Looking after your skin means looking after your whole body. If you are suffering from a skin complaint, it could be a sign that something else needs supporting. For example, spots around the chin area usually indicate a hormonal imbalance and eczema is an indication that the body may be lacking in essential fats. The skin relies on nutrients, like every other organ in the body. What you eat today, you will wear tomorrow!
How to get healthy, glowing skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It keeps our insides in and protects us from various outside factors that can damage or affect us, such as infection and pollution. Being the largest organ it works alongside other organ systems of the body such as the liver and digestive tract, aiding in toxin excretion. Therefore ensuring your liver and digestion are in good working order will also improve your skin.
The skin consists of two layers, the dermis – the inner layer, containing blood vessels, sweat glands, nerve tissue and collagen, needed for skin elasticity and strength, and the epidermis – the outer layer. The dermis supplies the epidermis with all of its nutrients and oxygen, as this outside layer has no blood vessels of its own. The surface of the skin you can see is made up of dead epidermal cells that flake off and are constantly being replaced. These cells have moved up through the skin layers losing moisture as they go, becoming harder, flatter and more concentrated with a protein called keratin.
As your skin relies on nutrients carried to it via the blood vessels, it is true – what you eat today, you will wear tomorrow!
Skin nourishing nutrients
- Vitamin A. Controls keratin levels preventing dry, rough skin. Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mangoes and all yellow vegetables.
- Vitamin C. Needed for collagen production. Found in most fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries, peppers, kiwis and citrus fruits.
- Zinc. Needed for new skin cell production. Raw nuts and seeds are rich in zinc, along with seafood and fish.
- Vitamins A, C, E, selenium and other antioxidants. Protect the cells from damage. A colourful diet will provide a good variety of antioxidants. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium and avocados are rich in vitamin E.
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs). Keep the cell membranes functioning and prevent the skin from drying out. Oily fish, nuts and seeds and cold-pressed seed oils are great sources.
- MSM. (methyl-sulfonyl-methane) Provides sulphur, the main compound needed for all of the body’s connective tissue (skin, hair and nails). Garlic, onions, eggs, cabbage and leeks are rich in sulphur.
- Protein. Provides the building blocks for tissue regeneration, growth and repair. Focus on lean, healthy protein from vegetable sources, such as beans, lentils, sprouts and chickpeas.
Your skin’s top 10 enemies
1. Alcohol. Dehydrates the body and depletes nutrients.
2. Smoking. Dehydrates the skin, depletes nutrients, stresses the liver, causes free radical damage and upsets circulation affecting delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin.
3. Sugar and refined foods. Cause inflammation and nutrient depletion.
4. Caffeine. Dehydrates and robs the body of nutrients.
5. Bad fats, such as fried foods, trans and saturated fats. These block the good fats (EFAs), cause inflammation and block the pores.
6. Red meat. Causes inflammation.
7. Constipation, poor digestion and poor liver function contribute to the build up of toxins, leading to the skin needing to step-in for an alternative toxin escape route.
8. Dehydration. Without adequate water intake, all cells shrivel and shrink, leading to poor assimilation of nutrients into the cell and toxicity, due to wastes not being able to leave through their usual channels. Water is crucial for keeping the bowels regular and the kidneys functioning well, without this the skin steps in again to help out with toxin excretion. In addition, lack of water causes wrinkles and dry skin.
9. Hormone imbalances. These impact on liver health and affect the skin.
10. Stress. Negatively affects all aspects of your health. A stressed body is an aging one!
Eat yourself beautiful with the perfect skin diet
- Eat organic produce as much as you can
- Eat unrefined, whole foods
- Eat lots of colourful fruits & vegetables – eat red, orange, yellow & green fruits & vegetables as well as purple foods such as berries. Eat onions and garlic regularly
- Drink at least 8 glasses of pure water per day
- Eat fibre-rich foods such as beans, lentils, whole grains, root vegetables
- Use cold-pressed seed oils – 1 tablespoon per day. Drizzle over salads or vegetables
- Fresh raw seeds – 1 tablespoon per day. Eat pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, ground linseed (flax) and hemp. Try grinding a selection of seeds to sprinkle into smoothies and onto salads or soups. Keep seeds in the fridge to keep their beneficial oils fresh
- Eat oily fish like wild salmon, mackerel and sardines
- Eat good sources of vegetable protein like beans, lentils, sprouted seeds and soya
- Eat live, organic yogurt
- See a nutritionist will help you pin point if any underlying health issues need to be addressed
What you put on your plate is more important than what you put on your skin
For fabulous, glowing, soft and vibrant skin, ensure you look after your whole body, providing it with all the nutrients it needs to be function at its best. Watching what you put on your skin is important too. If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin! Most cosmetics and skin preparations are full of synthetic chemicals, perfumes and mineral oil which are not friendly to the skin. The big companies that produce them have simply brain-washed you into believing they are going to make you more beautiful! Beauty comes from within. No product is going to nourish your skin from the inside, but ensuring you use only natural, healthy products on the outside of your skin will allow it to function correctly and won’t increase your body’s toxic burden. Remember, your skin absorbs whatever you put on it. It will ingest those chemicals as if you had eaten them!
Regularly treat your skin to natural treatments like aloe vera facials, virgin coconut oil massage or herbal steam baths and go without your make-up when you can to really let your skin breathe. A diet abundant in fresh, natural foods will nourish your skin from the inside. Just like the eyes are the windows of the Soul, your skin really is a reflection of your inner health and vitality. Focus on your health and your skin will follow.
Article by Jo Rowkins dipNT MBANT, nutritionist and founder of awakening health.
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