Gut Health and Sleep for Babies with Eczema
During my in-home sleep training consultations, I have seen an increasing amount of babies and toddlers with eczema.
The more extreme cases have the potential to cause discomfort during sleep, especially if the child’s sleep cycles are already of poor quality. And, although my 4 pillars of sleep hygiene protocol improves the health and quality of the sleep cycles, reducing the likelihood of feeling hunger or pain during sleep, I encourage a whole-child approach, which may involve other modalities and medical disciplines, some outside of my scope of practice.
I partner with, and refer to a variety of the nation’s top physicians and health specialists. One of which is licensed, clinical nutritionist, Jennifer Brand. I have witnessed the results of her non-pharmaceutical, gut health approach to healing skin conditions -especially eczema! And, the results are nothing short of amazing. Read what she has to say below.
~Jenni June, Certified Child and Adult Sleep Consultant, Los Angeles.
Jennifer Brand’s “Gut Problems, The Root Cause of Eczema” Blog
As a clinical nutritionist, I see a lot of children with eczema. It’s a surprise to so many parents when I explain skin rashes are an ‘inside job’, and aren’t caused by food. Food might be a trigger, but it isn’t the root cause of the problem.
Our bodies run on nutrients from foods we eat. We need nutrients in order to build and repair healthy skin, as well as to grow, develop, repair, function, and thrive. When nutrients are missing the body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to do everything it’s supposed to do, including building and repairing healthy skin. It’s counterintuitive to what we’re led to believe. We are led to believe that if we take more and more foods out of our diet, we will resolve symptoms and health problems. If you have removed food after food from the diet and it hasn’t solved the problem, it’s time to dig deeper to find root causes and stop blaming food.
I’ve found in clinical practice gut problems and hidden gut infections are involved. C. diff, H. pylori, parasites, yeast and bacterial overgrowths and imbalances, and problems with digestion and absorption are examples of gut problems I commonly see driving skin rashes.
These issues are missed, which is why so many people end up struggling long term, why they get stuck removing more and more foods from their diets, and using steroid creams and other immunosuppressive drugs to manage symptoms. These strategies do not solve the problem, and in fact can make it worse, especially in children.
What we need to do is explore what’s happening in the gut. Health begins in the gut! This is important to understand for a number of reasons including:
- If we have gut problems we can’t digest and absorb nutrients from the foods we do eat. This means we could be eating everything we are supposed to for building and repairing healthy skin but it’s not going to matter much because the body won’t be able to use those nutrients.
- Eighty percent of the immune system is located in the gut. This is a lot of the immune system, and means if there are gut problems it can cause broad reaching immune system dysfunction, and significantly impact how the body reacts to potentially triggering substances, whether that’s food or environmental, or other potential triggers. This is important to understand with eczema because it is often classified as an allergic condition, and it often comes along with allergies and asthma, known as the atopic triad. Allergic conditions point to immune system dysfunction, and that dysfunction begins in the gut.
- If there are gut problems there will be detoxification problems. In order for detoxification to function appropriately, we need good gut health. There is epidemiological evidence showing a clear association between gut problems and skin conditions (the gut-skin axis). This can happen via increased gut permeability, also known as leaky gut. When there are problems in the gut, such as impaired digestion and absorption, abnormal gut flora, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic overgrowths, and hidden infections for example, inflammation can develop in there leading to hyperpermeability of the gut lining. This allows toxins to escape from the gastrointestinal tract and enter the bloodstream, leading to an environment of systemic inflammation, which means inflammation throughout the body. Once these toxins are in the bloodstream they can trigger the immune system, and all sorts of health problems including skin rashes. In fact, higher levels of certain gut bugs lead to the continued production of endotoxins, called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which trigger those inflammatory responses and alter gut permeability, a phenomenon seen in people with eczema. Gut hyperpermeability also allows food particles to escape into the bloodstream, triggering the immune system and food allergy and food sensitivity. This is why food is not the root cause, rather gut problems are!
If your child is struggling with eczema and you’ve tried everything but haven’t yet checked out what’s happening inside, it’s time to do so because that is where the key to resolving the problem lies!
Jennifer Brand is an integrative and clinical nutritionist with a Master’s degree in public health, a Master’s degree in nutrition, and she’s a Certified Nutrition Specialist. She specializes in childhood skin rashes (eczema, psoriasis, hives, acne, and others), food allergies and sensitivities, and gut problems.
Jennifer’s own struggle with gut problems and disordered eating, and a family history of autoimmune conditions including her father’s battle with psoriasis turned psoriatic arthritis, her brother’s diagnosis of psoriasis, and her mother’s of vitiligo, left her frustrated with conventional medicine. She knows first hand that a different approach is needed.
Her work has been featured in peer-reviewed scientific journals, Voyagela, as well as on podcasts, online summits, and in-person presentations at venues such as Casa Colina Hospital in California.
Jennifer works virtually, is based in Los Angeles, and has helped countless children as well as adults beat skin rashes, food allergies and sensitivities, and gut problems.
- Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3–6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x
- Reddel, S., Del Chierico, F., Quagliariello, A. et al. Gut microbiota profile in children affected by atopic dermatitis and evaluation of intestinal persistence of a probiotic mixture. Sci Rep 9, 4996 (2019). doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41149-6
- Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459. Published 2018 Jul 10. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459