Guess what people, your skin is your largest organ. We tend to forget that fact just like we forget or disconnect from many things regarding our body and what is going on. There are many things we can do that impact the vitality of our skin from both the inside out and the outside in.
So here’s the deal. Detoxification and absorption of nutrients or toxins also applies to your skin! What we put ON our skin can either help or harm our health (and of course the same is true for what we eat or supplement with). I learned that it takes 23 seconds for our skin to literally absorb what you put on it and then it goes into your tissues and bloodstream. The digestion workshops I teach include skin health because our skin connects with everything else in our bodies. As we know, the cosmetic industry is a biggie—people spend endless amounts of money on “smooth, ageless skin”. Yes, the skincare aisles are filled with products claiming to smooth wrinkles, reduce fine lines and create a glow—some of these DO work, but at what cost? Some of the best skin boosters are things you may not even have considered! Here are just a few quick skin-care faves sans the surgery or harsh chemicals.
1. MEGA HYDRATION: Without enough H2Ohhhhhhh, your skin can become dry, flaky and even prone to breakouts and wrinkles. Quality water, without chlorine, which kills good gut bacteria on contact, is one key! The probiotic strains of bacteria in your gut are crucial to functions such as extracting nutrients from your food that make their way to your skin. (Something I am always learning more about!). Drinking lots of natural spring water or glass bottled water is one of the best ways to keep your skin hydrated! Hydration is crucial for maintaining skin's moisture and flushing out toxins.
2. SLEEP and CORTISOL: Did you know that falling asleep while watching TV prevents your body from releasing sufficient melatonin and getting the deep restorative rest it needs to repair and recover properly? During our sleep is when our bodies do ALL the detox and repair work, which in turn affects the regenerative effect of skin health. When people overwork themselves at the expense of quality sleep, their cortisol (stress hormones) elevates and strains their adrenals—all of which causes damaging effects on our skin health and the delicate balance of our body. Very little is more damaging to your skin's health than long term heightened levels of cortisol, your fight or flight hormone, pumping through your body. It’s essential to get this flowing at a normal rate. Even more important than the number of hours you sleep is the quality of the sleep you do get. Focus on a dark, quiet and cool room without technology around you.
3. STRESS: We ALL encounter different degrees and types of “stress”. It’s part of being a human in the world. Sometimes stress is helpful like during physical exertion or exercise, but prolonged, ongoing stress can be really damaging even to our appearance. Stress can cause immune compromise which results in acne or rashes in some people. It can be helpful to incorporate stress adapting foods and supplementation which helps counteract the effect of this kind of stress. Adaptogens, which I have previously written about, along with stress reducing breathing exercises, short meditations and spending time in nature, thankfully, all have stress reducing effects. So does laughter!!
4. HERBS and ESSENTIAL OILS: So much to say about this one. They nourish you at a deeper level than regular fruits and vegetables can and in different ways. David Wolfe writes a lot about super herbs like reishi, chaga and schizandra, but I’m talking about simpler things you can consume often like cilantro, parsley and bergamot oil (three of my faves!). These directly influence the appearance of your skin from the inside out, and you can consume daily without your body developing resistance.
5. FOODS: Add in the right fats! Quality fats are key components for glowing and healthy skin. Bad oils like canola, which are oxidized and damaged will not boost that glow. Good fats like coconut oil, avocado, grass fed butter, cacao, sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil are loaded with vitamins and minerals that make it shiny, moist and rich. And I mean both topically and internally. Also, working to cut sugar cravings tremendously helps your skin, and overall health, thrive.
Your skin is easily influenced by what you take in. Skin goes through many cycles of renewal and repair. Optimal nutrition gives your skin the materials it needs to thrive and that means eating a variety of whole foods which include a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins and omega 3 fatty acids, along with proper supplementation, which we also need.
Make nutritional skincare a priority and ensure these are included!!
6.VITAMIN C and BEYOND: Healthy skin needs a good supply of the protein called collagen, which you may have heard of. This is the most abundant protein in your body and it’s found in the connective tissue and skin. It gives skin durability, structure, elasticity and bounce. We need Vitamin C to manage the collagen. The antioxidant Vitamin C is also a free radical scavenger and can aid in repairing the oxidative damage done to your skin cells to keep it looking healthy. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, spinach, broccoli and more. Additionally, supplementing with high quality Vitamin C will boost the nutrient value of these foods. There are several other vitamins and minerals that boost skin health for a host of reasons. The key is getting only high quality supplementation. Glucosamine, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha-Lipoic Acid (also great at fighting free radicals and giving you that “glow” because it regulates nitric oxide levels and ALA also regulates Glutathione) and Cucumin (derived from tumeric, reduces puffiness and inflammation).
Your skin is only as healthy as the cells that make it! Beware—I can get a little nerdy sometimes with all of this. Science fascinates me, bridges being built fascinates me, what humans are capable of fascinates me, and I see the human body as a micro version of the macro world we live in. Cells work together by communicating through electrical and chemical impulses. SOME of these impulses even occur through our stress responses and the messages we send them but that’s another conversation. Cellular communication is the foundation for skin health, and the vitality of all your overall health. What we consume and what we put on our skin ensures your skin cells are a well-oiled machine and fit for duty. Promoting your cells’ natural ability to communicate helps your body and skin look good and feel great. We have choices in this matter! When selecting nutritional supplements and shopping for food, look for items that provide a wide range of vitamins (especially C and E), minerals, omega-3s and healthy proteins. Think about what you can do to support healthy cellular communication. That includes consuming foods and supplements that have plenty of antioxidant activity, are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals and contain plenty of phytonutrients. What you choose not to eat is also important. Limiting sugar and refined carbs can be helpful for your skin. So next time you reach for a snack, think about how it might feed into the beauty of your skin.