Balancing Internal Health to Attain External Beauty
2nd in a series: Growing Great Skin From the Inside Out
Last month, in the first article of the series, we discussed the 5 main causes of skin imperfections. For the second article in the series, we want to discuss 7 steps for addressing those 5 main causes and growing great, healthy skin. These 7 steps are:
Watch Your EnvironmentEnhance Your DigestionEnsure Outstanding DetoxificationModulate Your Immune ResponseBalance Your Blood SugarKeep Your Hormones in CheckBoost Your Nutrient Intake
Let’s review these steps in greater detail for healthy living!
Watch Your Environment
Exposure to chemical toxins in our air, water, food, and personal products can cause oxidative damage. In addition, chemical toxins make our skin highly susceptible to inflammation, irritation, and hydration, effects that can impact our appearance. One of the biggest problems are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs can be found in our environment, food, water, and personal care products; examples of EDCS are pesticides, industrial chemicals, plastics, fungicides, some heave metals, and certain medications. These chemicals disrupt the hormonal system and homeostasis of the body by interfering with the production, transport, breakdown, binding, and elimination of hormones. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the labels of your food and skincare products to minimize exposure to toxins. Here are some helpful tips to avoid EDCs and other toxins that affect internal/external health:
Protect your skin’s elastin and collagen from the sun’s harmful UV rays by wearing sunblock, a hat, and sunglasses.Studies show that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, olive oil, vitamins E &C, and carotenoids can combat oxidative damage.Please stop smoking. Smoking damages the skin’s elasticity causing premature aging.Don’t use chemical pesticides when doing yard work. Opt for natural alternatives!Don’t use hazardous cleaning products. Give baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar a try.Consider a water filtration or purification system for your home to remove toxins in drinking water.Consider a shower or bath filter to remove chlorine from water.Reduce consumption of foods in plastic. Don’t store food in plastic.Eat organic foods as much as possible.Buy safe personal care products. Avoid parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone, and triclosan. Go to ewg.org for safety ratings of personal products.
Enhance Your Digestion
Skin and digestive problems go hand in hand. Digestion problems may occur due to periods of high stress, a history of or current gastrointestinal (GI) infection, poor dietary choices, or the use of certain medications (e.g. antibiotics and steroids). Signs of digestive track issues include, but are not limited to, diarrhea, constipation, the presence of undigested food particles in the stool, small or inadequate stools, heartburn, abdominal pain, gas, or bloating. If you are eating fiber-rich, nourishing foods, managing stress, and staying away form unnecessary mediation, your digestion may be doing well. However, if you are having skin and digestive issues, you may want to switch up your diet. Try the following:
Eat fiber and nutrient-rich foods.Try your best to manage stress.Stay away from unnecessary medications.Add probiotics and/or fermented foods to your diet if you are experiencing bloating, gas, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation.Consider nutritional supplements like L-Glutamine to help repair digestive track.Eat eight or more servings of vegetables daily.Use good fats like coconut oil or olive oil for cooking.Eat fruit.Eat healthy protein sources like wild Alaskan salmon, grass-feed beef, and free-range chicken.
Ensure Outstanding Detoxification
It is important to get rid of the toxins in your body! Our liver and kidney’s are the body’s amazing tools for removing toxins. However, overexposure to toxins and underlying genetic factors may impair our body’s ability to detox. Some sings that our body may not be detoxing properly are: fatigue or tiredness, bad breath, headaches and migranes, PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, hormone imbalance, irritability, difficulty focusing, inability to lose weight, skin rashes and itching, and chronic muscle or joint pain. Support your body’s detoxification pathways by consuming nourishing foods, drinking filtered water and herbal teas, and exercising. Eat fruits, vegetables, and legumes that are rich in antioxidants. Onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts also help your body’s detoxification system. More helpful tips for detoxing the body are:
Avoid the toxins we mentioned earlier.
Avoid processed foods.
Limit intake of alcohol and caffeine.
Drink filtered water.
Drink herbal teas that support liver and kidney function (e.g. dandelion and mil thistle).
Eat an anti-oxidant rich diet (e.g. green leafy veggies, black beans, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
Eat healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
Relax stress toxins with breathing work, yoga, mediation, and restful sleep.
Modulate Your Immune Response
We all need a balanced immune system to protect ourselves from infection and illness. One of the biggest things you can do to help modulate your immune function is to find and eliminate any foods your body may be allergic to or not be able to tolerate. Allergies involve an immunoglobin IgE responding to the substance and creating a cascade of internal responses that can sometimes lead to a life-threatening reaction. A food sensitivity can create a much broader range of symptoms and can be immediate but usually creates chronic, long term symptoms. Signs of an intolerance or allergy are: itching, burning, pain, lymph gland swelling, hives, flushing, red spots, acne, rosacea, exacerbation of skin conditions (e.g. eczema or psoriasis), and/or recurring infections. The most common food sensitivities and allergies are dairy, gluten, eggs, corn, and soy. Review these details to support your immune system:
Avoid foods that increase inflammation (e.g. sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and hydrogenated oils).Try an elimination diet. Start by eliminating the most common foods linked to allergies.Eat anti-oxidant rich foods and anti-inflammatory Omega 3s.Take a high quality multi-vitamin, mineral supplement, and/or essential micronutrients for immune support.Consider taking an anti-inflammatory supplement.If you have an autoimmune disease or chronic recurring infections talk with a healthcare provider about modulating your immune system.
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar is not just an issue for diabetes patients. Blood sugar levels impact everybody and imbalances can lead to skin damage. Research shows that some herbs and spices (e.g. oregano, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and garlic) and components of certain fruits and vegetables can help balance blood sugar levels. However, foods with a high glycemic index (e.g. sugar, refined grains, white potato, etc.) that are rapidly absorbed by the body can lead to higher glucose levels and elevated levels of insulin. Eating an excess of high-glycemic index foods over time can lead to glycation problems, diabetes, weight gain, and skin problems. Ask a doctor to check your fasting blood sugar levels so you can assess and address hyperglycemia and insulin resistance early on. To balance your blood sugar consider the following:
Avoid sugar! Stevia, a natural plant-based option, is the best alternative to sugar because it does not alter glucose levels.Eat well-balanced snack and meals: fruit, grains, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.Eat fruits and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants.Avoid corn, potatoes, and ripe bananas.Add spices and herb to your cuisine like oregano, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and garlic.Consider a supplement for healthy sugar balance, like nutrients with chromium.
Keep Your Hormones in Check
Hormonal balance is crucial for healthy skin! When levels are off, blemishes, aging, rosacea, and other problems can occur. As we age, the hormones that help keep our skin firm and vibrant start to decline. Stress, poor sleep, as well as dietary and exercise habits disturb the balance of hormones. Some of best ways to maintain balance is to manage stress, eat a balanced and nutrient-rich diet, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep. Symptoms of hormone imbalances include, but are not limited to, fatigue, dry skin and hair, weight gain, low sex drive, PMS, or irregular cycles. A healthcare provider can identify hormone imbalances with blood, saliva, and urine tests. Keep your hormones balanced by:
Eat a balanced and nutrient-rich diet.
Ask a healthcare provider to test your hormone levels.Eat foods that support liver and kidney function.
Avoid harmful skincare ingredients.
Boost Your Nutrient Intake
Nutritional deficiencies can lead to a number of diseases. These deficiencies often are the result of poor dietary habits, absorption issues, or a lack of nutrients in our food supply. When it comes to skin, in addition to water and protein consumption, specific nutrients can enhance skin quality when they’re added to our diet as well as our skincare regime. Numerous studies have observed that dietary supplements of vitamins E and C, carotenoids (beta-carotene and lycopene), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can strengthen the skin and help prevent sun damage. Nine amino acids are important for collagen production, and they should be consumed through diet. Grass-fed beef, organic/free-range poultry, wild fish, and nuts are great sources of amino acids. Antioxidants are also an important dietary source. They help combat UVB-associated skin damage, help with DNA replication and repair, and benefit overall healthy (e.g. hearth health and GI health). Nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, dark chocolate, berries, stone fruits, tropical fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, and green tea are excellent sources of antioxidants. Remember to boost your nutrients consider the following:
Address digestive issues to ensure optimal breakdown and absorption of the nutrients in the food you eat.
Choose whole, unprocessed, organic foods.
Consider taking a high-quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement and/or additional nutritional supplements.
Information from Glowing Skin, From Within by Dr. Trevor Cates, ND