Your skin is your largest organ and your body's interface with the world. Your skin is also a reflection of what is going on inside your body.
With the skin being an organ of elimination and also linked with your gut, immune and nervous systems, it is often the first organ to show signs of imbalance, inflammation and nutrient deficiency.
Factors which affect and influence your skin health are:
- Diet ( nutrition, hydration, pH- acidity/alkalinity)
- Digestive and bowel health
- Liver function
- Blood and lymph circulation
- UV radiation and free radicals
- Chemicals ( from cosmetics, cigarette smoke, medications, drugs)
Whenever you are experiencing a skin complaint such as redness, acne, eczema or dry skin, think internal as well as external.
What is your skin trying to tell you about what is going on inside your body?
Are you eating something that is causing inflammation?
Are you eating enough skin nourishing healthy fats?
Is your skin stressed because you are?
Skin reactions can be a result of something topical such as a cosmetic or make-up product.
Did you know that your body absorbs up to 60% of what you put onto your skin?
Scary stuff considering the number of chemicals many women are applying each day through skincare, body care and make-up!
What we put on our skin and bodies is just as important as what we put into them through our diets.
Many cosmetic companies use the words 'natural', 'organic', 'hypoallergenic' or 'dermatologist approved' in their product marketing.
Well-meaning consumers are buying these products thinking they are safer or healthier for us, yet they still contain nasty chemicals.
Chemicals that are nasty for us, our environment and ironically our skin!
Unfortunately synthetic chemicals and products are cheaper to manufacture and work with than natural ones in many cases.
Nourish your skin with a good diet
Good digestive function is essential for healthy skin. If you're not digesting properly, you are not absorbing the nutrients from your food.
Your skin needs healthy fats. Often dry skin, dermatitis or skin redness can be reduced by increasing your intake of essential fatty acids such as oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), flaxseed oil, freshly ground flax seeds, chia seeds, raw nuts/seeds, avocado, olive and coconut oil.
To absorb essential fatty acids effectively you also need good zinc levels (another important skin nutrient).
For those of us with a high need for essential fatty acids (EFAs) or with digestive issues, taking EFAs in a supplement form may be more effective initially.
If you are going to take a fish oil, I recommend that you get a practitioner-only product. They are usually better quality, more concentrated, better absorbed and have to comply with stricter regulations than many of those those sold in health food stores or pharmacy.
Identifying any food intolerance or sensitivities can be really helpful to reduce skin inflammation.
Being mindful of foods which do not agree with you is always important when considering any aspect of our health. Food intolerance and sensitivities can affect all bodily systems including the skin. In fact, for some people a skin reaction is their most pronounced symptom.
Common skin aggravating foods are wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, corn or eggs.
I'm not suggesting that it is necessary to eliminate all of these foods for skin health, rather to be mindful of how you feel after you eat them.
Avoiding processed foods, junk food and excessive sugar, caffeine and alcohol will also benefit your skin - and the rest of your body!
Support digestion and elimination
If your liver, bowels and kidneys are overloaded, your skin then has to take on some of the load in eliminating toxins and metabolic wastes.
Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet to provide fibre essential to bowel health.
Probiotics (good bacteria) ensure a healthy digestive environment. High quality probiotic supplement or probiotic foods are a great addition to your diet for both skin and digestive health.
Hydration is crucial
Plenty of purified water helps to hydrate your skin as well as helping your kidneys remove toxins and metabolic wastes. It also aides bowel regularity.
Herbal teas help hydrate the skin as well as gently supporting cleansing through the kidneys, liver and bowel.
Stinging nettle tea is one of my all-time favorites. It's rich in silica for hair/skin/nails health, is packed with nutrients, is alkalising and great for your kidneys.
The Blossom Infusions Cleanse tea blend is a great blend to support skin health whilst gently cleansing the body and it contains organic stinging nettle with other organic herbs for skin health.
Balance your Hormones
Hormones can often be behind skin flare-ups so whenever we are focusing on skin health, we also need to support hormone balance.
Where the break outs occur on the skin and when provide insight as to the hormonal influence.
It's really helpful to notice when your skin flares up during the month and also where eg. chin, neck, back, chest, forehead.
There are many great ways to balance hormones to reduce hormonal breakouts and skin flares.
It can take a little bit of time, but ultimately will be more effective than just treating topically or through the use of antibiotics or the pill. Medications can be effective in the short term but once you stop taking the symptoms often return.
Manage stress and fatigue
Stress is another big contributor to skin flares as well as lack of sleep or poor sleep quality.
Many women notice that their skin is one of the first places that they will see physical evidence of the stress in their lives, or of them burning the candle at both ends and not looking after themselves.
Holistic Skin Health
A holistic approach to skin care involves looking at all of these factors and then working to optimise not only your skin health but your overall health.