Book Review: The Eczema Diet

Identifying what really is the culprit to anyone’s eczema is trial and error. Causes of eczema can range from genetics, environmental allergens, food allergens, stress, negative reactions to cosmetic ingredients and more or a combination of all the above. If you’ve tried the low nickel diet without positive results AND limited your physical contact with nickel, I’d suggest you read Karen Fischer’s book The Eczema Diet: Discover How to Stop and Prevent the Itch of Eczema Through Diet and Nutrition.
Author and nutritionist Karen Fischer created “the eczema diet” to address her own daughter’s severe eczema. Fischer writes how over time the eczema diet itself evolved using scientific evidence and client feedback. Though she doesn’t discuss systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS), she provides all kinds of useful information for treating eczema.
First Fischer discusses a high level overview of eczema and atopic dermatitis, including leaky skin and provides hope for healing eczema. Next she provides a great explanation on how the diet works like an elimination diet, removing certain foods and then slowly reintroducing them back into your diet.
She sets anyone interested in trying the diet up for success by including a section on planning and tips to starting the eczema diet. In the back of the book, Fischer provide several of her recipes with “eczema healthy” food ingredients that reduces the body’s reaction. Some of the foods she recommends eating to naturally treat your eczema are unfortunately higher in nickel, such as leafy greens, beans, whole grains and seeds. That’s why I suggest if the low nickel diet hasn’t worked you (after at least a month), perhaps trying another diet in consultation with your physician could alleviate your eczema. If you do react to nickel in foods like me, many of Fischer’s recipes are still useful or can be modified so they are lower in nickel.
In addition Fischer writes extensively about nutrition and other “anti-eczema” solutions. For instance, I didn’t know anything about histamines or histamine intolerance until her section about histamines and how “allergy sufferers have increased levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibody found in your blood and tissues that mediates allergy” (p. 34). Foods that can lower your bodies histamine levels Fischer writes include foods rich in vitamin C, B6 and quercetin. That’s one of the reasons why Fischer promotes those with eczema to eat papaya regularly, as it’s “a rich source of histamine-lowering vitamin C” (p. 159) and does so much more!
Fischer discusses liver detoxification and how “promoting proper liver detoxification can reverse or reduce multiple chemical sensitivities” (p. 49). Last year my annual blood tests showed I had elevated liver enzymes that mimicked nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. I wondered if eating the low-nickel diet of white grains and limited leafy greens could effect my blood test or if there was a legitimate issue with my liver. Concerned, I worked to reduce my stress load and detoxify my liver. Six months later my blood was re-tested and fortunately my liver enzymes were back in the normal range!
The book The Eczema Diet provides all kinds of practical health advice. If you’ve tried Fischer’s eczema diet or read the book and learned something insightful, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

8 comments
  1. Hello,
    I also suffer from atopic eczema and recently was diagnosed with nickel allergy via patch test. Prior to that I read Karen’s book and started myself on her diet and supplements regime and I saw some improvement in my skin. Today I stumbled upon your wonderful blog and am reading it the whole morning. I found a list of nickel foods and was disappointed to see so many foods there that Karen actually recommends in her book, for example:
    – buckwheat
    – oats
    – cabbage
    – linseeds and linseed oil
    – soy lecithin.
    I’ve stocked up on these foods and supplements and now I feel totally lost as to what to do with them…

    1. Hi Antonina,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. There are a lot of foods traditionally beneficial for eczema that are high in nickel, that aren’t great for those of us with systemic nickel allergies. Not all those with nickel allergies have systemic nickel allergies otherwise a nickel food allergy. If you try the low nickel diet, excluding those supplements, and see improvement in your skin your nickel allergy is probably systemic. Some can tolerate cabbage, whereas nuts, seeds and oils are higher in nickel. Using a food journal that corresponds with your symptoms can be very useful.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

      1. Hi Christy,
        Thanks for your answer. I guess I’ll just go along with food elimination diet / food diary strategy. Thanks again for all the precious information on your blog!

  2. I have the read Karen’s book and have learned a lot and improved my eczema situation a lot iwth her advice. However, I agree with the post above that I hadn’t realized the amount of Nickel in many of the foods recommended in the “eczema detox” diet. I am going to try to tweak my diet to reduce the quantity of Nickel I intake. Are there any tests that can be helpful to root cause this or is it best to just do some experiments with our diet?

  3. Is there a way to determine the type of nickel allergy we have? I was diagnosed with a “severe” nickel allergy later in life (34) using a patch test, but my doctor didn’t say anything to me about a “systemtic” allergy and she rolled her eyes when I asked about a low nickel diet.

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Thanks for your comment. My doctor technically diagnosed me with a severe nickel allergy at the age 24 using a skin patch test. He didn’t use the name “systemic nickel allergy,” however since I don’t wear jewelry or really react by contact, he suggested I try the low nickel diet, which is a treatment for systemic nickel allergy syndrome and within 4-6 weeks all of my eczema cleared and when I eat foods higher in nickel, I experience eczema again. It’s really a trial and error type of eczema, as most are.
      Warm regards,
      Christy

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