We’re going to get back to basics in this post and cover 5 key reasons why being vegan is a fundamental requirement for the health of your skin, and can ultimately help your condition of eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. I have often found myself deep in discussion with someone about which specific foods affect our health, but then realise they have not yet removed animal products from their diet. This is a fundamental step we need to take at the start of our healing journey.
1. Food Digests Faster
It is commonly stated by medical professionals, that disease begins in the colon. Think of the colon as the garbage collection area of your body – you want it to be a fast-moving area, where things do not sit around for a long time. If things do get stagnant in this area, it can attract unwanted smells and bacteria, and become an ideal habitat for disease.
Here is a chart showing various foods types, along with their typical duration for digestion to be completed:
These durations just refer to the time taken for food to pass from our stomachs into our bloodstream / cells. The full transit times for food in the body are much longer. It’s pretty disgusting to realise that a meaty meal can be present in our system for 2 or 3 days. We eliminate meat residue from our digestive system by effectively rotting it in our colon until it is easy enough to pass out.
Consuming animal products therefore vastly increases our chances of high overall toxicity; a key contributor to eczema and other skin conditions. Given that eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis can come about when our lymphatic system, liver and kidneys are over-taxed with digestive by-products, reducing this toxic load can make for dramatic improvements to our skin.
2. More Energy
The human body is a machine – it is designed to move regularly. We cannot be at our healthiest unless we are living an active lifestyle. This is all the more so for those of us susceptible to eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. When we sweat, the body can release toxins and excess salts naturally, and it can encourage internal hydration to the extremities of our bodies. Getting the body moving vigorously also pumps the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the body’s sewer system – it transfers waste products to the exits of the body. The more effectively the lymph works, the more toxicity it will remove from the body.
As we switch to a vegan diet, we will naturally be including more fruits, vegetables and foods that are high in carbohydrates. Eating a diet rich in both simple and complex carbohydrates means that our glycogen stores will be well stocked up, we will have ready access to both sustained and explosive energy levels. This will give us the desire to be up and about, pumping our lymphatic systems. Exercise will feel less of a chore, and more of an enjoyable part of our day.
3. Acid/Alkaline Balance
You may remember the acid-alkaline balance from high school. The pH scale runs from 1, the most acidic, to 14, the most alkaline. The examples used in the diagram here give you an idea of the difference between extremely acid and alkaline substances.
So what on earth has this got to do with eczema? Well the acid/alkaline balance is a crucial measurement to life, to survival, and to health overall. Depending on our diet and lifestyle, our bodies will either be in a slightly acidic state, or a slightly alkaline state. Of course, we’re not talking battery acid or bleach here, but our bodies will fall just slightly into the acidic or alkaline categories. This state is largely decided by the foods we consume.
When thinking acidic foods, you might think, ‘ah, lemons!’ But that is not how it works. The crucial part in the metabolic process is what is left behind once the food has been processed by our bodies. So whilst lemons may taste acidic, they are actually alkaline-forming for our bodies, and therefore a good thing to eat. An acid/alkaline-forming food chart can be found here, demonstrating how animal products are the worst offenders for acidification of the body.
Tests have been done in a laboratory whereby cancer cells were placed in a slightly acidic environment vs. a slightly alkaline environment, and it has been shown that cancer cannot survive in an alkaline pH. We therefore want to create this alkaline state in our bodies that will be hostile to disease. Sure, you may not have cancer, but just look on cancer as the benchmark of all disease – the ultimate condition of dis-ease. All other body ailments require an acidic environment to thrive, just like cancer, so it is crucial to live an alkaline lifestyle if eczema is to be permanently reversed.
4. Better Ingredients make Better Skin Cells
We are what we eat. This, for good reason, is the oldest cliché in the history of naturopathic medicine. The foods we consume literally become the cells that our bodies are constructed from. This is truer for some food types than others, due to the way our bodies process the substances. Animal fat remains largely unchanged in the body. In fact, there was an instance where body fat was extracted from a regular bacon-eater, and it had largely retained the original state in which it was taken from the pig. This fat sits around in the body, serving no real purpose, and causes no end of problems to the human body.
Vegan diets are naturally low in saturated fat. The work of Dr. Neal Barnard has shown in detail the link between intracellular fat and insulin sensitivity. Excess sugar consumption is commonly thought to be the cause of type 2 diabetes, but in fact, the inability to metabolise sugar comes from fat between the cells, preventing insulin from doing its job. Candida overgrowth, a trigger for eczema flare-ups, is thought to come about in the same way. Sugar is not properly assimilated in the body, due to excess fat, which results in candida mushrooming out of control as it consumes the sugar that has not been absorbed.
Dairy is the biggest no-no when it comes to our skin. One of the biggest associations with dairy, is its tendency to form mucus in the body (more toxic load for our lymph and elimination organs to deal with). It must be avoided as much as possible in our quest for clear skin and alkalisation of the body. Most commercially viable meat and dairy companies nowadays have had to resort to using lots of antibiotics in their animals to keep up with demand. These chemical products are passed on to the food products and are even more acidifying to the body than the animal products themselves.
5. Better Hydration
Plant-based foods have a higher water content than animal based foods; aside from their superiority in micro/macro content, bio-availability, fibre and environmental sustainability. Consistent hydration is key to successfully healing from eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis. This is significantly aided by eating high water content foods, and avoiding animal products which tend to dehydrate us. Every cell in our body requires water to operate properly, and eating foods low in water make the job of staying hydrated unnecessarily arduous.
A pre-hydrated body accepts and digests food more effectively. Think of dry, parched ground, and how resistant it is to absorption, compared with well-watered ground. Water helps to flush our body through, making waste elimination easier and more efficient. It also dilutes and helps drain our lymphatic system, which is essential for ridding our bodies of eczema-forming toxins.
As eczema sufferers, we intimately know that feeling of stiff, dry skin which looks and feels like it desperately needs moisturising. Rather than giving in to the temptation of slathering it with chemical-laden moisturiser, it is possible to ‘internally moisturise’ by hydrating well with good food and water choices, and spending time in a humid environment. Optimal hydration allows us to sweat more too, a pathway through which we can release toxins which could otherwise cause havoc to our skin.
The process of cooking or processing our food removes this water, so it’s important to include a large amount of raw food in our diets. In fact, I highly recommend using a juice extractor every day during the healing phase of your journey, to maximize the detoxification happening in your body, and to offer your cells the most nutrient-rich, bio-available materials to build new, healthy skin cells. More here on why juicing is crucial for healing eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
If you have found this article useful, please visit EczemaHealing.org, where you can download a free 10-page document on everything you need to do to get started on your healing journey. EczemaHealing.org has 100+ free-to-watch videos on YouTube with detailed information about the healing process.
One-to-one skin health coaching is also available at EczemaHealing.org/coaching. Please join the Eczema Healing Community on Facebook to compare stories with others on their journey of healing eczema naturally. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any other questions.