Do You Know Nutrition: Avoid certain foods to help itchy skin condition

Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.

By Phylis Canion

I have a skin disorder called aquagenic pruritus and was wondering if you have a diet that will help? I have tried many creams and lotions without success. I realize with time that it is not a problem with my skin, but that it is inside and could be associated with foods sensitivity. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Aquagenic pruritus is a condition that results in intense itching after skin comes into contact with water of any temperature. In severe cases, simply exposing skin to excessive levels of moisture, humidity or even sweat can trigger a very uncomfortable reaction.

Aquagenic pruritus is not to be confused with aquagenic urticaria where a person will develop blotches on their skin. With aquagenic pruritus, it is invisible to all except to the person who it has afflicted.

A common fact with most who suffer from aquagenic pruritus is that skin care lotions do not work as well as eliminating these foods from their diet: refined sugar, wheat, nuts, berries, milk, dairy products, fermented foods and caffeine.

I am a breast cancer survivor and avoid soy completely. I am a label reader and see soy lecithin listed as an ingredient on many products. Is soy lecithin the same as soy?

Lecithins are oily substances that occur naturally in soybean plants and egg yolks. As far back as the early 1900s, the unnamed "soy lecithin" was just a waste product produced during the degumming process of soybean oil. By 1908, soy bean companies were having trouble disposing of the large amounts of foul smelling, fermenting waste product, usually because it is extracted from soybeans chemically using hexane.

Soy plants in Germany decided to name this waste product "soy lecithin" and began looking for avenues to market it.

By 1939, scientists had discovered more than 1,000 different ways to use soy lecithin. The primary use of soy lecithin in our food supply is as an emulsifier, and is found in almost all processed foods.

Soy lecithin is composed primarily of phospholipids, whereas soy contains isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens.

The concerns of consuming soy products is the high levels of phytoestrogens they contain, because phytoestrogens can elevate your estrogen levels if eaten in high doses.

While soy lecithin and soy isoflavones are two different things, they are both obtained from the same plant. Even though the dose in each product may be low, eating so many products that contain soy lecithin may pose a problem.

Note: Next free nutrition class is Sept. 12 at Organic Emporium, 2918 N. Laurent St., Victoria. Call 361-576-2100 to reserve a seat.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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