Holistic skin health
Skin, it comes in various textures, shades, types and ages, but no matter how it differs from person to person its function and role is the same. The largest organ in the body, skin itself makes up around 15 percent of our total body weight. This amazing multilayered organ preforms multiple functions, many of which we probably never give a second thought to during our busy daily lives. We usually only pay attention to our skin when it is fulfilling its role as the body’s warning system. That is, when we see the skin become inflamed, sensitive or breaking out in acne. This is usually a sign that we need to adjust our diet, give our liver some love, balance out our hormones or perhaps that something we are coming into contact with is causing allergies.
In order for our skin to look, feel and function at its best, it like all other organs in our body, needs optimal nutrition.
If your skin is red and inflamed, incorporating foods that are highly anti inflammatory is a good idea, as a bonus these foods help to boost the immune system too. Foods and spices such as, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, coriander, rosemary and cinnamon all help to reduce inflammatory markers within the body and have anti oxidant properties.
For good skin health, Zinc is needed for protein, cell repair, DNA synthesis and immunity. You can get zinc from eating the following foods: broccoli, carrots, yoghurt, chicken and eggs.
Probiotic foods are also important to incorporate into the diet, to insure beneficial gut flora, as this gut flora helps improve digestion, immune function and the health of our skin. If you have been on long term antibiotics in the past, it is important to rebuild and recolonise the guts good flora. Foods such as Sauerkraut, kimchi, yoghurts, kefir (milk or water) are great.
Choose to eat a variety of whole foods, fruits and vegetables that are available each season. Variety is important in order to get the optimum amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants and vitamins, as this will help your skin health. If the produce is grown locally this is best, or try growing your favourite vegetables and herbs at home, kids particularly love to be involved in gardening.
Keeping skin hydrated is also hugely important as it helps combat dryness and flush toxins from the body. Eight glasses of purified water per day is best to help your body keep hydrated (during these hot summer months you may find you need more). Starting the day with a glass of warm water is also a great idea for skin health as it wakes up the digestive system and supports the liver and by adding the juice of half a lemon you are also helping to alkalise the body.
Teas for skin support;
Herbal infusions and decoctions, more commonly known under the umbrella term of herbal tea, can be a wonderful way to support your skin. There are many herbs that along with tasting unique and delicious, impart their own energy and therapeutic properties that help renew skin cells, encourage healing and support the liver to detoxify. You can buy ready made liver support teas at most health stores or buy loose single herbs. Please do not use herbs that you may be allergic to and check for any contraindications, particularly if you are pregnant or on medication. Good skin healing herbs are; Dandelion Root tea, Nettle tea, Calendula flowers, Gotu kola, Red clover flower.
Mind- Body connection:
It is worthwhile considering the mind body component of any health concern, including skin ailments. You probably know from experience when the mind is stressed or depressed, the body is often susceptible to illness. For example, you're stressed to the eyeballs, running yourself ragged and you find yourself picking up one cold virus after another. Often when we are stressed or out of balance, we experience skin flare ups of eczema or acne. It is thought that persistent itchy skin could be a sign that you are allowing someone or some experience to get under your skin. Eczema is thought to be a sign of stress, psoriasis could be a sign of hardening your external defences against the world, whilst acne could be a sign of not accepting your self. The work of Louise Hay ( https://www.louisehay.com), explores the mind body connection in more detail. However a good way to figure out how your mind and emotions maybe influencing your skin health, is to start is by writing 2-3 pages in a journal everyday. Let this be your safe space to really be honest about all your stresses and worries. You may soon see a common theme in your life that correlates with your skin flare ups.
If you would like help to support your skin, consider having a naturopathic consult. Herbal tinctures, teas and skin care can also be made for your unique needs.