Many people take beautifully clear and healthy skin for granted. However, acne, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are all troublesome skin conditions that cause discomfort and distress in a large number of children and adults across the globe.
Maintaining healthy skin is rarely achieved by topical lotions and potions alone. Believe it or not the types of food and drink that make up your typical diet have a significant impact on the condition of your skin. To overcome these types of skin conditions the healing process needs to be much more than your average ‘cleanse-tone-moisturize’ routine. Making changes to your diet is often the only way to see long-term positive results.
One particular skin condition, acne, is often associated with an imbalance of sex hormones. A high level of the male hormone testosterone stimulates an excessive production of sebum from skin pores. This results in skin pores becoming clogged up and infected, giving the characteristic sore and swollen, red spots. Although frequent cleansing with an astringent cleanser is essential to prevent pores becoming infected, diet is also important for acne. Higher testosterone levels is not just something that affects men, it can become elevated in women due to high stress (work, emotional or chemical) and excessive caffeine intake. For both men and women a deficiency of the minerals zinc and magnesium can also lead to hormone imbalances. Cutting out caffeine and increasing foods rich in zinc and magnesium such as pumpkin seeds, fish and green leafy vegetables can help to address acne from the inside out.
Saturated Fat and Inflamed Skin
Many skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis are characterized by high levels of inflammation in the body. A food factor involved in this is too much saturated fat in the diet –this includes foods such as red meat, cheese, ice cream, fried foods, crisps and convenience foods. The reason why is that saturated fats convert into hormone-like substances that are responsible for triggering inflammation. So if you reduce the level of saturated fat in your diet you can start to reduce the intensity of skin inflammation.
Good Oils for Good Skin
Nutrients that are important for skin renewal, and can help prevent scarring, include vitamin E and the essential fatty acids, Omega 3, 6 and 9. These essential fatty acids or ‘good fats’ are found in nuts, seeds, oily fish (herrings, mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines) and Evening Primrose Oil. They have been shown in numerous clinical studies to be of great benefit for conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis. Just like saturated fats, the fatty acids present in essential fats are converted into hormone like substances, but unlike saturated fats those generated from essential fats are beneficial. So, foods rich in essential fats aid skin health by switching off skin inflammation and accelerating skin healing.
The Gut Connection
The health of your stomach and intestines is also reflected in your skin. This is certainly true for a skin condition called Acne Roseacea, a red butterfly shaped facial skin rash. Stomach and intestine toxicity created by ongoing constipation can often lie at the root of this skin condition. Your skin can act as an excretory organ when your bowels are bunged up. During times of ongoing constipation, toxins that would normally be excreted via your bowels enter into general circulation. These toxins are eventually passed to your skin where they are literally ‘sweated out’ through skin pores. This route of excretion leads to the skin irritation, reddening and spots seen in most types of acne.
To ensure proper bowel function make sure that you are regular. Eat plenty of soluble fiber including oats, oat bran, apples, pears and vegetables. A great way to top up on bowel health is to supplement with a good quality Probiotic. These beneficial gut bacteria have been shown in clinical studies to aid skin health and integrity by correcting bowel toxicity.
Food Doctor Tips for Healthy Skin
- Drink plenty of water to aid skin hydration
- Limit caffeine to 1 cup of tea or coffee a day
- Increase carrots, apricots, orange & yellow peppers & squashes, rich in beta-carotene
- Use good quality skin care products with only natural ingredients & organic essential oils
- Always wear a good high SPF sunscreen when sunbathing to prevent UV damage