The skin is the largest organ in the body. It physically protects your bones, muscles and internal organs, protects your body from outside diseases, and allows you to feel and react to heat and cold to regulate your body heat.
So it’s pretty special and needs special care to maintain it!
Everyone’s skin is different and the concerns that people have about it differ too. In this part 1 – we look at nutrition tips and advice to help with dry, spotty and slow to heal skin:
Most common causes of dry skin come from within. Dehydration and a lack of essential omega 3 fats are by far the most common reasons for the dryness. The skin cells have a special membrane surrounding them which is made from fats. When we are deficient that membrane is compromised and water can escape leaving the skin cells dehydrated. No amount of slapping on moisturising cream is going to address the root cause – it’s merely relieving irritation in the short term and improving the appearance cosmetically.
The best way to improve dry skin is to increase the amount of water you drink to 6-8 glasses per day. You will also need to increase the levels of omega 3 “good fats” in your diet. For very dry skin omega 3 supplementation may be needed and you should consult a qualified therapist to help you chose a suitable product and quantity. Adding essential fats via your diet can help and this includes adding 2 to 3 servings of oily fish into your weekly diet, and having foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds and seed oils daily.
There is no harm in protecting, moisturising and smoothing the skin once you are taking care of the internal needs. Cosmetic moisturisers can contain lots of “nasties” that can aggravate skin so try to pick natural products such as coconut oil or aloe gel.
A very common skin concern – we’ve all had them at one time or another and they can be a teenager’s worse nightmare! But some of us adults suffer too..
The most common cause of spots are related to hormone balance but diet, toxins in the gut and liver function can also influence acne.
Within the skin are sebaceous glands whose role is to produce sebum which travels down pores and lubricates the skins surface with oils and wax to help prevent water loss. Male hormones such as testosterone increase the size and activity of these glands with the female hormones decrease their size and activity. Testosterone can also encourage the growth of a protein called keratin and this can bind with sebum and block pores. These blocked pores can become swollen, infected and inflamed and this is essentially what acne is.
It’s not just males that have testosterone – females have and need it too. Testosterone is what gives us all drive, ambition and our motivation. The problem comes when the levels increase dramatically and this can occur under prolonged stress and the excessive consumption of caffeine, sugars, alcohol and saturated fats. Lastly, little or no exercise can increase testosterone levels.
The key to controlling hormone related spots is to reduce testosterone levels and this can be done by:
- Increasing regular aerobic exercise
- Reducing caffeine consumption to 1 to 2 cups per day
- Limit alcohol to a glass or 2 a week
- De stress – make positive steps to reducing your stresses
- Reduce your intake of sugary and fatty foods
The liver’s job, amongst other things, is to rid the body safely of toxins. Toxins come in all shapes and sizes from the obvious fumes and smog to the not so obvious sugar and natural body toxins. The liver works best when we sleep and can manage a finite load each day. Problems occur when the liver is overloaded (too much alcohol, sugar, fumes etc) or cannot do its job properly (not enough sleep, not enough nutrients to support the process etc) and so the skin helps by pushing toxins out through the skin. These can clog pores or cause irritation on the skin which can show as spots.
The good news is that diet and lifestyle changes can really help to improve this type of acne:
- Drink plenty – aim for 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day
- Cut back on processed and sugary foods
- Get at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day – more if you can to provide the nutrients the liver needs to support the detoxing process!
- Switch to organic where possible – less pesticides / less chemicals
- Get enough sleep – aim for 8 hours daily in a dark, quiet and warm room
- Reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine consumed each week
- Reduce usage of chemical cleaners and harsh body care products
The Digestive System:
Let’s talk poo! Regular bowel movements keep the toxins in the digestive system at a low level. If you have a prolonged period between toilet trips the waste sits in the intestines and stagnates. Bacteria can grow on the food waste and release toxins which are then reabsorbed into the body and have to go to the liver to be safely detoxified. This can overload the liver and again the skin needs to be called upon to help eliminate the toxins.
Ideally, people should open their bowels 1-2 times daily. Anything less than this and it is likely that your bowels are toxic. There are many reasons why some suffer constipation and you should always consult your GP if you have any concerns or notice a change in bowel habits.
Diet and lifestyle changes that can help with daily bowel movements include:
- Drink plenty – aim for 6-8 glasses of filtered water each day
- Eat 6-8 portions of different fruits and vegetables each day for fibre
- Don’t eat on the run – take time to sit and enjoy your food
- Increase other forms of soluble fibre such as oats, lentils and beans
- Avoid foods such as red meat, eggs and bananas which are known to be constipating
- Exercise – in can help with stimulating the bowel
Slow to Heal Skin
When we cut ourselves or have damaged skin the body needs to rebuild and repair the skin cells using collagen and proteins. In order for the body to repair in the fastest and most efficient way we need protein, zinc, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Protein – helps provide the body with the building materials to repair. Ensure that you have protein with every meal and snack. Good sources include lean meats, eggs, fish, pulses and beans
Zinc – collagen production is dependent on the presence of zinc so it is a vital component in the process. Foods high in zinc are red meats, whole grains, beans and pulses
Iron – delivers oxygen to the wound site. Infections in wounds are thought to be related to a lack of oxygen. Foods rich in iron include meats, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits and fortified foods. (To help with the absorption of iron you should have plenty of vitamin C and avoid tea which can inhibit the absorption)
Vitamin C – works with zinc to help the production of collagen. Include foods such as citrus fruits, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, peppers and tomatoes
Vitamin A – This boosts the inflammation process at the start of the wound healing and is thought to help prevent infections. Foods rich in vitamin A include orange and yellow vegetables, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables
Part 2, coming next week, will look at greasy skin, cellulite and aging skin……..
At Apples to Zinc we offer one to one consultations to help you get your health back on track with food. If you are interested in booking a consultation to discuss your skin health or any other health concerns , or simply want to find out more information on how nutritional therapy can help you please contact us on 07554 626765 or firstname.lastname@example.org