Gut Flora and Eczema

I met a friend yesterday whose grandson has severe eczema and I was telling her about some of the possible causes. A while ago I watched a very good Horizon programme on eczema where one of the conclusions they came to was that children with eczema lacked some of the important gut flora that most healthy people have. Gut flora can be affected positively and negatively by our diet with foods such as sugar and junk food feeding bad intestinal flora and foods such as vegetables, yogurt and fermented foods adding to and encouraging good intestinal flora.

Although the gut flora can be affected by diet they can also be influenced by other circumstances. For instance children born by Caesarean section do not pick up flora present in their mother’s birth canal. Being too clean is also thought to produce problems. Bacteria are all around us, some are good and some are bad and we all should have a mixture of these, both on us and in our digestive tract which if you think about it is like a hole going through the middle of us. The good however should always outweigh the bad.

Being too concerned about cleanliness and using sprays and cleaning products that kill all known germs means that the good as well as the bad bacteria are killed. We are not meant to live in a sterile environment.

This was further supported by looking at the ratio of bacteria in children who played out compared with those who didn’t. Those children playing outdoors and getting dirty in a natural environment had a better ratio of good to bad bacteria. That old saying ‘You need to eat a speck of dirt before you die’ is probably not only true but sensible.