||Clever marketing strategies often mislead people into thinking that they could "cheat" on their less then optimal diet by taking a superfood supplement. This is because superfoods are widely recognized as natural foods that are sparse in calories yet highly nutritious with some additional health benefits.
And because they are in their natural state, those nutrients are much more bio-available, which means that the body can absorb them with ease. This is definitely preferable to cheap, synthetic supplements that often pass through the system without being utilized properly.
Superfoods are usually associated with ancient and exotic fruits, seeds or algea such as acai berries, pomegranate juice, goji berries, noni fruit, alkalizing concentrated green powders, blue mangosteen, medicinal mushrooms, raw cacao, chia seeds, maca, etc.
However, the truth is that no amount of superfoods or supplements (even the high quality kind) has enough "super powers" to compensate for poor quality food choices. The issue often arises when people place too much emphasis on the alleged valuable properties of superfoods which distracts them from the benefits of wholesome, balanced diet. It also often provides them with a false sense of security believing that their nutritional needs are taken care of, whilst they carry on with a diet of processed, junk food. Evidently such approach is missing the bigger picture of what common sense nutrition is all about.
Personally, I consider eating ample amounts of locally sourced, natural foods a much smarter investment then exotic, often highly priced superfoods that had to travel half a globe just to get to me. After that I strategize when it comes to supplementation. For instance, in the summer months when fresh, natural food is abundant, I cannot see much point in supplementing my diet with any extra nutrients. In the winter, on the other hand, when fresh food is not so freely available or it's mostly imported (hence not as nutritious), a little helping hand in the form of concentrated nutrition is welcome.
Another therapeutic use of supplementation that comes to my mind is during detoxification. Green superfoods such as chlorella, spirulina or barley grass can be very helpful when it comes to cleansing and alkalizing the body and so in this case I consider supplementing beneficial.
So my parting point to you is that supplementation with superfoods has got its place and it can make a profound difference if used wisely as part of a balanced diet. If however one uses it as a replacement for a healthy diet, it simply won't work.
How about your experience with superfoods? Do you have any favourites that have made the biggest difference in your health and well-being? Go ahead and share your tips in the comments below.
It is important to realize that if your baby suffers from eczema, then their immune system is not functioning as it should. Their immune system often overreacts to otherwise harmless substances which may give rise to allergies. Coupled with genetic predisposition, this may manifest as eczema, asthma or hay fever depending on the most vulnerable organ in the body. This vulnerability is often inherited or could be a result of exposure to toxins, poor diet or perhaps physical injury.
Eczema is an immune system disorder so our focus will be on optimizing and strengthening your baby's immune function as well as identifying and eliminating the major triggers that set your baby's eczema off.
The root cause of infant eczema can primarily be traced to:
• Food allergies / sensitivities
• Irritants / allergens in the environment
Because everyone's genetic make-up is unique, the underlying factors that trigger eczema will also differ.
As babies grow older, food allergies become less of an issue. This is mainly because their digestive and immune system grow more mature. Having said that, any ongoing allergy that goes untreated or that gets suppressed by steroid creams or anti-histamine medication may contribute to a compromised and hypersensitive immune system later on in life. The same food allergies may also develop into other allergies or manifest as asthma or hayfever (medical practitioners often maintain that most babies grow out of eczema however those individuals quite often develop asthma or other allergic conditions a few years down the line. Sadly, nobody seems to make the connection).
It is a fact that breastfeeding offers the best protection when it comes to preventing allergies however young babies often become sensitized to proteins (allergens) their digestive system cannot cope with. Because everything the mum consumes becomes a part of her breastmilk, taking out the suspected allergen(s) from the breastfeeding mother's diet often resolves the allergic response thus eliminating eczema.
If breastfeeding is not an option, choosing suitable formula becomes one of the most important decisions when it comes to preventing and treating eczema (especially when allergies run in the family). Proper digestion and utilization of cow's milk protein seems to present difficulties for many susceptible infants. Those babies often develop an allergy to dairy which precedes the development of eczema. It is important to talk to your baby's doctor and ask for a hypoallergenic formula (also called elemental or hydrolyzed formula since the proteins have been broken down thus posing smaller risk of developing an allergy). Sometimes, the most sensitive babies will react even to the hypoallergenic formula. In that case soy formula may be the option (even though some babies react to soy as well). It is a matter of trying what suits your baby. If, however, formula has been found to be the issue you will see a marked improvement in the way your baby feels (less itchy, more content) within a few days of introducing a new formula. It may take another few days to see the inflammation (redness) subsiding. Because it takes about 28 days for new cells to work their way up to the outer layer of the epidermis, you will notice new healthy skin forming within about a month.
Sometimes when babies seem to be reacting to just about everything, detergents could be the culprit. Detergent related allergies appear to be on the rise since detergents are lurking everywhere from skin care and household products to washing powders and washing-up liquids. Later on you will learn how to find out if detergents act as triggers for your baby's eczema.
If however your baby suffers from severe eczema that does not respond to any treatment, then over colonization of staphylococcus areus might be the main cause since these hardy bacteria prevent eczema from healing and further contribute to infection. It is crucial to treat the infection first before pursuing other treatment options.
As you can see, eczema does not have a single cause. Rather it is caused by a complex interplay of several factors acting as triggers that eventually undermine the baby's immune system.
Even though there is no simple answer when it comes to treating eczema, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to accurately pinpoint the main triggers. Providing your little one suffers from eczema then following the key principles in the Heal Your Baby's Eczema E-book
could make the utmost difference when it comes to reversing your baby's eczema for good.
Cradle cap is an inflammatory skin condition that most commonly affects babies less then three months old. It is characterised by yellow, greasy and crusty patches that occur predominantly on the scalp but may sometimes spread to other areas including the eyelids, behind the ears, neck, nappy area or skin folds.
There are many theories behind the development of cradle cap, although it is most commonly associated with excessive oil production (due to high levels of maternal hormones present in the baby's system) and fungal infection. The residual maternal hormones left in the baby's body after birth can cause an imbalance in the sebaceous (oil) glands causing them to produce excess sebum (oil like substance), which makes old skin cells attach to the scalp instead of falling off as they dry.
Interestingly, studies have found a strong link between cradle cap and a fungus called Malassezia, which normally populates the skin without causing any harm. This opportunistic fungus can however proliferate if the conditions are favorable for its growth (such as increased oil production on the skin). Since Malassezia feeds on fats, it tends to show up in oily places such as oily scalp or skin folds. As the number of these yeast organisms on the skin increases, a skin infection results.
The good news is that as the time goes by the levels of maternal hormones naturally decrease and so cradle cap clears up on its own (this is because the skin oil production normalizes which then results in a balanced skin microflora).
Although cradle cup is unsightly, it is not sore or itchy and it should not cause any discomfort. Antifungal medication (e.g. specialized shampoos, creams) often alleviate cradle cap, however they can be quite harsh. The good news is that there are more gentle anti-fungal alternatives such as coconut oil, tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, etc., which are added to many natural skin care products.
If the cause of cradle cap is purely hormonal, the most popular method of oiling the scalp before washing it with a shampoo and then gently combing the flakes out with a soft brush, works quite well for a lot of babies. The best oil to use is e.g. borage oil, coconut oil, castor oil, almond oil or olive oil.
It also helps to use a mild baby shampoo that contains pure, natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals (such as detergent surfactants, perfumes, etc.) as these can dry out and irritate the baby's delicate skin. On the other hand, Green People/ Weleda/ Burt's Bees or MooGoo are all great examples of companies with gentle, natural skincare products.
As every baby is unique, I have found that "oiling the scalp" method either does not work or may actually worsen cradle cap in some cases and so alternative methods need to be considered. A great effective alternative is the use of natural scalp cream as it returns moisture to the scalp. Personally, I have had a great experience with the MooGoo Scalp Cream as it is super moisturising, yet non greasy and as a bonus it contains anti-fungal ingredients.
Providing dry flaky patches start spreading to other areas of the body, cradle cap may be the first visible sign that your baby is sensitive / allergic to something in their diet. In breastfed babies, allergens pass through their mother's milk, however this situation can be easily remedied once the mother has identified and eliminated the suspected allergen from her diet. The biggest offenders are usually dairy (milk, cheese, cream, etc.), eggs (mainly the egg white), nuts and gluten (mainly wheat). However everybody is unique and so any food can be considered a potential allergen (there is a whole chapter in the Heal Your Baby's Eczema eBook devoted to food allergies and how to go about treating them). If the baby is formula fed and is found to be dairy sensitive, it may be worth investigating if hypoallergenic formula would be more suitable.
It is crucial to understand that food allergies create inflammation in the body since inflammation is the body's defence mechanism against foreign invaders (in this case food allergens). If allergies are not addressed properly or get suppressed by anti-inflammatory medication, inflammation moves deeper often manifesting as eczema or other allergy related conditions.
Research has found that babies who get cradle cap often have a history of atopy / allergic predisposition in the family, therefore food allergies is a big thing to watch out for. Because allergies / food sensitivities can present in different forms such as digestive troubles (e.g. colic, feeling bloated) or various skin conditions, they can go undetected for many months or years after which time they become harder to recognize and get rid of.
From the above description, it is apparent that cradle cap is a very common skin condition which often resolves itself without the need for any further interaction. However, cases that are not responding to the standard treatment or where dry, flaky skin begins to spread may be a result of more then one factor at play. From my experience, cradle cap could be a precursor to eczema in babies with atopic predisposition. It could be a clue pointing to underlying allergies / sensitivities that are worth investigating. It is useful to remember that healthy skin is a reflection of a healthy gut, which brings us, as parents, closer to resolving any of our baby's skin issues.