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A Nutritional Therapist's Guide to Skin Health


How you look can affect how you feel so taking care of your skin is an important part of your overall well being, both physically and mentally. Skin is incredible! Not only does it keep everything in, but also it protects you from infection, radiation and dehydration. ‘Skin’ refers not only to the visible outer skin, but also the much larger inner skin that covers the lungs and digestive tract.


Your skin is in a state of constant regeneration and will completely replace itself about every 20 days. The health of your skin and its ability to rejuvenate is hugely affected by your diet, as well as factors in the environment, including the cosmetics you use.

Skin is the largest organ in the body...

It weighs about 5 kg and has a surface area roughly the size of a double bed. Your skin withstands a lot of damage from day-to-day life, with factors such as physical injury, infection, sunlight environmental pollution, airborne germs and smoking all having a negative impact.

The skin also gives important clues as to what is happening inside; a rash can be a sign of an allergic reaction happening within the body, while yellowing of the skin can indicate an issue with the liver. Factors such as age, genes, circulation, digestive health, toxins, immunity, psychology and diet can all affect skin condition.


So, in many ways, what you eat today you wear tomorrow...

Your skin is a remarkable barometer of your body’s health, so keeping your body's internal systems healthy is key to avoiding or treating skin issues. Remember, all the organs are connected and the skin is just another organ. Nutrition is involved in each stage of skin development... Vitamin C plays a vital role in the production of collagen. The flexibility of collagen and elastin fibres declines over time owing to damage caused by free radicals. This damage can be reduced by antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, selenium and many others.


Vitamin A, as well as being an antioxidant, controls the amount of keratin in your skin. A deficiency of vitamin A can therefore cause dry and rough skin.


Zinc is essential for production of new skin cells. Zinc deficiency can lead to stretch marks and poor healing and can also lead to skin complaints such as acne and eczema.


A well-balanced diet consisting of fresh, preferably organic, foods is crucial for the health of your entire body, including your skin.

THE GOOD GUYS!

There are several actions you can take right now to start giving your skin the care it needs. While some skin products are beneficial, they will be ineffective if you don't look after the rest of your body and give it the nutrients it needs.

Diet

A well-balanced diet consisting of fresh, preferably organic, foods is crucial for the health of your entire body, including your skin. Good nutrition will slow the skin's aging process, helping you to look younger for longer. Antioxidant-rich foods are an essential part of arresting the aging process and are obtained by eating a variety of coloured fruits and vegetables, seeds and oils. Aim to increase your intake of the following foods to help your skin stay healthy:

  • Red, orange and yellow vegetables and fruits such as sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, apricots and watermelon;

  • Purple foods such as berries;

  • Green foods such as watercress, kale and broccoli;

  • Seeds such as peas and whole grains, fresh nuts and oils.

  • Bulbs such onions and garlic.

  • Omega 3 and 6 are important elements of skin care, forming part of each individual cell, keeping them soft. These essential fats include fish, nuts, seeds and oils.


Water

Water plays a vital role in keeping the skin firm and taught. When we become dehydrated, the skin begins to shrivel and wrinkle, so it is important to drink around 2 litres of water a day, or more if you are sweating a lot. Dehydrated skin is not only more prone to wrinkles, but waste and toxins that build up in the skin cells cannot be cleared.

Skin Supplements

A good multivitamin may contain extra antioxidants and some essential fatty acids. In addition to this, individual conditions will require specific supplementation. Another nutrient that is important for skin health is sulphur. This ‘essential’ mineral is a constituent of keratin and collagen which help to maintin healthy skin, hair and nails. Rather than taking collagen supplements, or creams, it is preferable to supply your body with the raw materials it needs to manufacture collagen, such as MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) along with vitamin C.

MSM has been shown not only to keep skin, hair and nails looking beautiful, but also to assist in healing wounds, acne allergies and even arthritis.

As a final note, if you are suffering from long-term skin issues, it is worth considering that leaky gut may be the underlying cause. Please read my series of articles on gut health to learn more about how to counter this debilitating condition.






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