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Eczema Podcast: Louise Sagbilge Talks Diet

I chat with my ex-partner and good friend Louise Sagbilge. Louise has a real passion for food and nutrition, and we discuss the health benefits of eating clean and maintaining a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. Louise also offers great ideas about which foods to avoid if you have atopic dermatitis and the foods you may want to introduce into your diet so that you can manage your skin effectively in a controlled but non-restrictive way.

Meet Louise

Pete: Hi there. My name's Pete, I am an advocate for AtopicDermatitis.net and today I'm going to be talking to my friend Louise Saglilge. She works in the IT industry but her main passion is nutrition and food, and we're going to be talking about food and health in general. So, hello Louise.

Louise: Hi Pete, thanks for asking me on.

Pete: Yeah, the delectable Louise Sagbilge. So just tell us about what you're about.

Louise: Yeah, so, thanks for the introduction. So I work in the I.T industry, have done for almost eight years, but, you know, it pays the bills, but as you mentioned my main passion in life is mainly food, but, as you know, we discuss nutrition and skin quite a lot.

Nutrition is a hobby

Pete: Yeah. Okay, so just for our listeners, right. What are your qualifications around nutrition?

Louise: So I have got a diploma in health and wellbeing, a qualified nutritional consultant, which makes me laugh because it makes me sound more important than I am. I don't practice in it, it was more yeah, it was more of a hobby.

Pete: It's just more of a hobby.

Louise: And get to know the ins and outs of what you suffer with as well.

Pete: Yeah. Yeah.

Louise: It really helped with that.

Living a healthy balanced lifestyle

Pete: Okay. So straight off the bat then, if we think about diet and health what is it just for general health? We'll come to eczema and skin in a minute, but just for general health what would you say are the foods to have to lead a balanced lifestyle, healthy balanced lifestyle.

Louise: Yeah, so I'll talk about that but the first that, obviously, any nutritional consultant or anybody interested in nutritional would tell you is to stay away from any sort of fad diet, anything you see, even if they claim they can help with your eczema if they're talking about following a strict diet I would stay away from it immediately.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: It's a red flag for me.

Pete: Why is that? Is that because everyone's different, or --

Louise: Yeah. Everyone's different and I think it's a mindset as well. The minute you get into talking about being on a diet, instead of following a certain lifestyle, I think people want to rebel against that.

Pete: Yeah, it's too strict.

Louise: Yeah, it's too strict.

Pete: You're just setting yourself up to fail.

What are the typical foods to eat?

Louise: Definitely, yeah. But then when you talk about a healthy lifestyle, I always think about my family in Turkey and I think about their Mediterranean diet, but it is about lifestyle as well, because it's to do with stress and their way of life is a lot --

Pete: So what are the typical foods that they would eat?

Louise: So, the typical foods. It's mainly high in veg, fruit, nuts, beans, grains, fish, but, more importantly, it's unsalted fats. So it's things like olive oil, which you probably know yourself is beneficial for your skin because it's full of Omega threes, and it's a low intake of meat and dairy, more importantly. Also, you probably noticed just from that list of food, it's a lack of unprocessed, sorry, lack of processed foods.

Pete: Is a good thing.

Louise: Is a good thing, yeah. Not ordering takeaways midweek but it's not something that they're consciously having to do. It's a lifestyle that they've grown up with and when you adapt your way of living around your food, you've got to do it slowly, you've got to introduce certain foods slowly and cut back if you're struggling with that. But I'd say those foods are good and, obviously, the less processed sugars that you take in are good and a diet that's not too high in salt, but hydration is important as well.

Pete: Yeah, okay.

Louise: You know, eight glasses of water a day. I've got a big bottle of water and that's equivalent of four glasses and all I know every day is I have to drink two of those a day and I stick to that.

What foods should people with eczema eat?

Pete: Yeah, that's good. So in terms of eczema now. You know me very well.

Louise: Yeah.

Pete: What would you say are the foods that -- I mean, we're all different and it will vary for some people, but is there a rough guideline for people with skin conditions?

Louise: Yeah, and I'm basing this mainly on what I've seen in you as well, to be honest, and you know, yourself, that there's no simple answer to this which is the main frustration for people, isn't it?

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: When it comes to eczema. But most of the time when you've got eczema, it normally does combine with something like an auto-immune problem and things like the nightshade family are never good for that.

Pete: And just explain what the nightshade family is.

Louise: Yeah, sure. So, the nightshade family includes; tomatoes, peppers, chili, aubergines, and it is connected, there's studies that connect --

Pete: You see I, sorry to talk across you.

Louise: No, it's fine.

Pete: I tried to cut out most of the nightshade family but I can't -- I just love tomatoes.

Louise: You love tomatoes.

Pete: I love tomatoes.

Louise: The thing is you base your lot of your diet around Italian food, so you struggle with that, don't you? But, if you're looking for alternatives, I know you're not a big fan of them, but sweet potatoes, carrot, mushrooms, courgettes, you could bulk out your pasta with that rather than having tomatoes.

What food is good for the skin?

Pete: And why would you say those particular foods are particularly good for the skin as well?

Louise: It's the minerals that are contained in most vegetables that are going to benefit your skin and if are trying to eat a clean diet, which is really important when you suffer badly with eczema, then bulking your food out with these vegetables is the best way forward to have a clean diet and to cut down on, even meats, processed meats.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: Sugars.

Pete: What about things like wholemeal carbohydrates versus normal white carbohydrate foods.

Louise: I know a lot of people try and avoid carbohydrates but it's the most important part of your diet. You should be basing your diet around carbohydrates but, yeah, around unprocessed carbs and whole grain wherever possible, because there's less sugar in them.

Pete: Right.

Louise: There's more fiber so it's going to keep you fuller for longer and you know that's --

Pete: So, it's less -- So, really, if you're an eczema sufferer you want to be avoiding, as much as you can, the nightshade family. Things like peppers, and tomatoes, and chili, aubergines.

Louise: Chili, yep, aubergine.

Pete: And eating good fiber, lots of food with lots of fiber. That's the wholemeal grain; so brown pasta, for example, instead of white pasta. Brown rice instead of --

Louise: And don't get me wrong, though, I don't think there's any link between there being a problem with, particularly, eczema sufferers, where if you're eating white carbs versus whole grain that they're going to cause you more issues. I think as long as you live an active lifestyle, as well, I think that's where it's more important. If you're living an active lifestyle you can afford to have white carbohydrates. Again that are unprocessed, though, white rice, white pasta, white bread. But if you're looking to not only help your skin but also live a healthier lifestyle, then yeah, whole grain is the way forward.

What foods should be avoided?

Pete: Brilliant. So going back to the foods that us eczema sufferers should avoid having.

Louise: Yeah. I do hate the term, a clean diet, 'cause it's used all the time now.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: It's a bit overused, but that would mean you're almost looking at a vegan diet, in many ways, or vegetarian, because you're looking at lowering your dairy intake.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: And then eggs, also. There's recent studies, I don't think they're very developed at the minute, but eggs have been related, as well, to being a trigger for eczema.

Pete: Right, yeah. I've cut eggs out recently.

Louise: Because we had that discussion. Yeah. Yeah. We've had that discussion recently. Have you noticed a difference?

Pete: Not yet, to be honest, not yet, but I --

Louise: You weren't eating a lot of eggs though?

Pete: No

Louise: No, not like me. I could have one or two a day and you're having what? A couple a week?

Pete: A week.

Louise: Yeah, so it might not make a big impact, but also, the obvious one is alcohol.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: I know that's probably quite annoying for some people to hear, but cutting down on alcohol is going to have its -- It's highly acidic.

Pete: It's the sugar and the yeast and there's yeast in there which kind of --

Louise: Yeah, I mean it dehydrates all of us but it dehydrates your cells so badly to the point that it can cause an itch.

Pete: A flare.

Louise: Yeah, yeah. And you react badly to the yeast, don't you, yourself?

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: I think probably some of the worst times I've seen you is after you've had alcohol.

Pete: Yeah, yeah.

Louise: You can eat clean all day and you could have one beer and that'll be it.

Pete: Yeah, and it'll just ruin it.

Louise: And then anything just highly processed additives are so bad for your skin. Chemicals. There's chemicals in processed foods and that's not good for anyone, particularly somebody that has got a sensitive immune system.

Pete: Right.

Louise: So --

Pete: So avoid processed foods.

Louise: So no dairy, stay away from the nightshade family as much as possible. You know, just out of interest, you could try cutting down on eggs if you eat lot of eggs at the minute.

Pete: An I've got to say there's great substitutes for dairy, like oat milk, and almond milk, soya milk.

Louise: I have almond milk myself and I haven't got a dairy intolerance, I just know how bad dairy, in general, is for you. It's full of hormones from another animal that you really don't need.

Pete: No, I know it's --

Louise: Yeah, it's kind of gross when you think about it, and then, you know, keep as hydrated as possible, as much water as possible, eight glasses recommended a day and keeping your diet nice and clean, and full of natural --

Pete: Natural ingredients.

Louise: Yeah.

How does tea and coffee affect the body?

Pete: Yeah. Brilliant. The other thing I wanted to ask you about was tea and coffee. Is it true that, 'cause sometimes you read these things, you don't know what's fact, what's just advised, but is it true that drinking lots of tea and coffee can reduce the amount of vitamins and nutrients your body absorbs?

Louise: Yeah. There's lots of studies that have proved this, actually, which is much to my annoyance because I am probably addicted to caffeine. So whilst it can obviously boost your mind and physical performance, there are various studies that have proved that the diuretic effect that it has on your body, so, you know yourself, you drink lots of tea and coffee it makes you go to the toilet more, you urinate more.

Pete: Yeah.

Louise: So, you're effectively just diluting the amount of vitamins and minerals that your body's taking in. 'Cause it's a diuretic, it's different, so people say to me, oh, well, does that mean if I drink too much water, then I'm going to dilute the vitamins? But a diuretic effect is completely different.

Pete: Right, 'cause it's dehydration.

Louise: It's almost flushing out all the goodness that you've had. Water doesn't have that same effect. Don't let me get too scientific on that, 'cause I'll probably will get a bit tongue tied, but it's quite complex, though, because there are certain foods that can act as a blocker to the effect that caffeine can have on your body. So things that high in potassium, like avocado, or bananas, that actually can stop that, the effects that caffeine would have on your --

Pete: So you could drink, like, five cups of coffee as long as you have a banana?

Louise: Just have 12 avocados a day.

Pete: Yeah. 13 avocados.

Louise: I think, probably, if you really wanted to go down that route, yeah, you could look into the sort of foods that you would need to eat to stop that happening. But, general rule of thumb, I'd probably say one or two cups of tea or coffee a day is fine.

Pete: Is fine.

Louise: You're going to start noticing the effects if you're having five or six cups of coffee a day.

Pete: Okay.

Louise: Yeah.

Pete: Okay, that's been really, really helpful.

Louise: Oh, I'm glad to hear it.

Pete: I have to say.

Louise: Thanks for having me on.

Pete: Thank you. So, if people want to find out more about you, what you're talking about, where can they find you online?

Louise: Yeah, on Instagram @lousfood, you can find me on there and see my latest creations.

Pete: Brilliant. Brilliant.

Louise: Thank you.

Pete: And thanks for doing this, cheers.

Louise: Thanks very much, Pete.

Pete: Cheers.

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