A smooth, clear complexion and healthy looking skin are the result of putting wholesome foods into your body as well as putting pure and wholesome products onto the outside- your skin. Using completely natural skin products are a must for the long term health of your skin and body. TrulyO2 is my favorite and trusted pure and natural line of skin care. You can read more about it at TrulyO2.com. Now let’s look at something equally important: healthy lifestyle habits and eating the right diet for optimal skin health.
For starters, let’s extoll the virtues of this complex and beautiful body covering. Did you know that skin is commonly considered the largest organ of your body? Like our internal organs, such as the heart, brain and liver, skin plays an integrated role in the overall functioning of the body. It protects our bodies from harmful bacteria, chemicals, and temperatures. It stores water, fat and is involved in Vitamin D production critical for bone health and immunity. Skin is tough but porous allowing sweat and waste products to leave the body for the purpose of detoxifying and temperature regulation. Each square inch of skin is jam packed with blood vessels, glands and sensory receptors allowing us to feel, regulate, and heal. Let’s finish our ode to skin by pointing out that it is waterproof, stretchable and capable of repairing itself! Clearly your skin deserves a lot of respect!
All body functions affect each other. Each cell, tissue, and organ in your body contributes and effects the whole. Likewise, exercise, diet, emotions, stressors and sleep habits all contribute to how you feel and function, and consequently the appearance and health of your skin.
Through exercise you invigorate blood circulation which delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin promoting collagen production, new skin cells, and detoxification. Regular sweating through vigorous exercise flushes out toxins from the skin and gives it elasticity and a healthy glow.
Our emotions, especially stress and anxiety, have powerful effects on the appearance of skin. Under stress we produce more skin sebum, an oily discharge, that can cause acne as well as inflammation, flushing, eczema, cold sores, darkened spots, and psoriasis. Negative emotional states will likely disrupt hormonal balance which can weaken the protective capabilities of the skin and make us more susceptible to infections, chronic skin conditions and premature aging.
Sleep is an under-rated cornerstone to good health as well as healthy skin. Remember the expression “beauty sleep”? A lot of important recovery happens all by itself while we are comfortably dreaming. This is most evident when we do not manage to get a good night of sleep and wake to visibly pale, puffy, wrinkly, droopy face skin. But with a full night of restful sleep the skin’s blood flow increases, collagen is produced, and repairs of UV exposure, age spots and wrinkles are hard at work.
What we eat is the most complicated of these lifestyle habits for promoting overall health and healthy skin. With the constantly changing, and often contradictory, theories of what constitutes a healthy diet it is hard to know what to believe especially since we have access to such a huge array of food options and choices. But there are time-honored and clear choices we can make that will either enhance or detract from the health and beauty of our skin. Let’s explore them!
Beneficial dietary choices for beautiful and healthy skin.
High Water Content Foods.
We are aware of the importance of hydration for skin and overall health. Consuming adequate water, especially in hot, dry climates, is important. But plain water is not as absorbable as when water is combined with some sort of nutrients. By choosing foods with a high water content we are able to nourish and hydrate the cells of our bodies more fully and efficiently, hydrating our biological processes as well as our skin. High water content foods are basically all natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, fishes, meats, legumes and root vegetables that are as fresh as possible. We want to shop the perimeter of the super market where the fresh stuff is found and avoid the dried, canned, processed, boxed and bagged “food products” generally found in the center aisles.
Healthy Gut Flora.
Eating a large and colorful variety of fresh foods stimulates the formation of strong and diverse digestive enzymes and intestinal flora. Each food item requires it’s own specific type of microbe to break it down in digestion. The greater the variety of fresh foods in our diets the better and more resilient our digestive flora will be. When the digestive system is robust a person’s energy will be good and skin will be smooth and problem free.
There are a few foods that are specifically known to beautify the skin by vigorously creating good intestinal flora. These foods are cabbage, seaweeds, beans, avocados and oats. A commonality that they share is an especially high fiber content. A high fiber diet literally feeds and creates a strong diversity of gut microbes which facilitate healthy digestion and does wonders for our skin.
Foods high in vitamin A from plant sourced Beta Carotenes.
Foods high in beta carotenes are particularly beneficial to your skin. They soften skin and strengthen cell walls and tissues creating protection from penetrating bacteria and viruses, neutralizing the harmful effects of air pollution, and aiding in skin repair. To protect your skin from damage and harm (yes, this includes skin cancers) be sure to eat a diet high in leafy greens and orange colored foods such as: carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, parsley, spinach, leafy greens, winter squash, cabbages, apricots, cantaloupe, peaches, and micro algae such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae.
Harmful dietary choices for health and skin.
What do we need to avoid to maintain our beautiful and healthy glow? The following foods and ingredients are damaging to healthy cell replication, cause inflammation and damage our digestive flora.
Foods containing refined sugars are the worst! They are everywhere, used as rewards and treats, eaten at celebrations, but wreak havoc on every organ in the body. They are inflammatory, damage the flora in the digestive tract, and will damage and blemish your skin. Do yourself a favor – save the sweets for the occasional celebration. Your sugar cravings will go away after a few days of disciplined avoidance.
Alcohol and Coffee.
Drinking large amounts of either alcohol or coffee creates a visibly bad effect on your skin. Both, in large quantities, act as toxins taking a toll on your liver, dehydrating your skin, causing inflammation, redness and large pores. A long-time habit of excessive alcohol consumption will create permanent damage, wrinkling and aging to your skin.
Unhealthy oils and fats that are refined, often rancid, and reheated are toxic and harmful, and will show their damaging effects on your skin over time, not to mention your heart and digestive tract.
Other types of foods to avoid are processed foods which generally have a long list of additives and preservatives. Keep it simple and eat fresh.
Lastly, avoid over eating! The general rule is to push away your plate when you are 3/4 satisfied. With these basic, uncomplicated guidelines you will live longer, stronger, happier and more beautiful!
Livia Hall is an acupuncturist and Oriental Medical Doctor in Boulder County.
Her knowledge of both western and Chinese dietary principles plays a big role
in helping her patients get well and stay well!