We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat” but have you heard that “beautiful skin requires commitment?” Both these quotes ring true. Good health and well-being is more than how we exercise and what we eat. The skin is the largest organ we have, and it reflects our internal health including our emotions and stress levels. It often takes an external problem, one that is visible to others, for us to reflect on what is going on inside us.
Busy lifestyles make it all too easy to fill ourselves with stimulants like caffeine and alcohol as well as processed food. This makes it difficult for our bodies to function optimally and it may show on your skin. If we truly want to love our skin, the challenge needs to be addressed from the inside out. Although our health is more than just based on diet, the nutrients we consume give us energy that supports us through each day, nourishing our bodies. Our skin glows if our bodies are healthy. Food is often linked to emotion. Many people turn to unhealthy foods for comfort during periods of distress or eat takeaways because it is easier after a stressful, busy day. But this isn’t doing our skin any favours.
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways that you can look after your skin. Water is hydrating, and it flushes out toxins and transports nutrients throughout the body, helping with detoxification and the reduction of fatigue. Our body is made up of up to 60% water, so it is essential to drink enough each day. To find the right amount of water for you, the formula is: 0.033 litres per kg of your body weight, e.g., if you weigh 60kg you should be drinking 2 litres per day.
But water intake can be heavily dependent on what you’re eating, what your mineral intake is, and what else you’re drinking. Caffeine can be dehydrating, so consider reducing your caffeine consumption. If the thought of giving up your coffee is too terrible to consider, perhaps start supplementing each cup of coffee with 2 glasses of water or herbal tea.
Reduce your stress – breathe
We all have stressors in our lives. Long term stress can enhance the ageing process and take away the glow from our skin. Whatever your stress is, take at least 5 minutes each day to relax and reflect on how you are feeling. When we are stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths which further contributes to our feelings of stress. Take a deep breath from the diaphragm, focus on each breath and give yourself time to regenerate.
Eat real food
If you are already consuming a whole food diet, you may be giving your skin many of the crucial nutrients it needs for good health without even realising it! Carrots are packed with beta carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A; however, the conversion to useable vitamin A is not always reliable so getting preformed vitamin A from animal fats is a good option. Vitamin A is essential for skin health, helping to prevent the overproduction of cells, reducing symptoms of dry, flaky skin, and clogged pores. Capsicum, kiwifruit, and citrus fruit is packed with Vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for collagen and elastin production crucial for young looking skin.
Vitamin E can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and has antioxidant capabilities, which may reduce damage caused by sun exposure. Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E but so do animal fats, in a more bioavailable package. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds contain zinc, a nutrient that is essential for enzymatic function in the body. Zinc deficiency may cause acne and slow metabolic turnover of skin cells, among other issues. But be sure to activate nuts and seeds before consuming, to reduce antinutrients and increase bioavailability of minerals. Animal meats are still your best bet for bioavailability! Liver is the richest source of vitamin B complex, especially biotin and folate, both essential for skin renewal and tissue integrity. Leafy greens are also high in folate, and bananas, brown rice and eggs contain high amounts of biotin.
Reduce redness and dry skin
If your skin is dry, prone to dryness or redness, or frequently filled with blackheads or white heads, you may be deficient in essential fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil can help to reduce redness, irritation and erase fine lines. Omega 3s are also present in other animal fats. The omega 6 fatty acids found in animal fats are also essential for a healthy immune system and brain function. Animal fats do contain linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid, which we’re told we can only get from plant oils! These polyunsaturated oils can help keep cells supple and retain water. Too much linoleic acid, which is very prevalent in our modern diets, is associated with markers of ill health. But a small amount of cold-pressed oil like evening primrose, if a diet is wholefood only, can help with cellular suppleness. We have not forgotten to mention refined sugar! The sweet white stuff not only robs the body of nutrients but is pro-inflammatory and can disrupt the hormonal balance, aggravating breakouts and causing premature ageing.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
The lymphatic system relies on the movement of your body to keep it flowing. When the lymphatic system is congested, waste can build up in the tissue of our body and cause rashes, blemishes, and irritations. Keep your lymphatic system moving with movement such as walking, swimming, running, yoga or Pilates.
Balance your acids and bases
Our blood is naturally a balance of base (alkaline) and acid. The body tightly regulates the correct balance for the various tissues. For example, the stomach should be highly acidic and the small intestine, more alkaline as you get further away from the stomach, culminating in a mildly acidic colon. Your body needs to work very hard to keep it at the right level. What you eat and how you live determine pH balance in the body.
Optimal breathing helps regulate body pH, so plenty of mindful and deep breaths every day will help. What you consume each day also has a significant effect. Bioavailable protein and minerals from a nutrient-dense, animal-based diet will support optimal blood pH and reduce the load on your body, so that it can focus on supporting you in other ways.
Support your gut
Unless your body is absorbing the nutrients it needs, your skin won’t glow the way that it should. For optimal nutrient absorption your digestive system must have enough hydrochloric acid to break down food. Consuming apple cider vinegar in a salad dressing or adding a dash of lemon in warm water before meals will help give your gut the support it needs. If digestive symptoms are severe, a hydrochloric acid supplement may be required.
The largest organ in the body, our skin looks after us in more ways than what we may realise. It cools us when we are too hot, heals wounds and protects us from harsh chemicals and drying winds. Our skin absorbs sunlight which benefits our immune system, liver function and feelings of wellbeing. The skin does all of this, yet one of the most common complaints we hear, is about our skin. Our skin needs our support so that it not only survives but that it thrives, making us look and feel our best. Next time you notice that your skin is looking dry, you find a blemish or a wrinkle, ask yourself what your skin may be asking from you. Love the skin you’re in, by showing love for yourself from the inside out.