by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
This article is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. It is meant for educational purposes only. Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health, and Nature’s Sunshine Products accept no responsibility for results you get, whether good or bad, from using this information. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.
The truth is, your skin can only be as healthy as your body, and thus your skin is a good reflection of your overall health. We’ve all seen people with sallow, saggy, or wrinkled skin, and we intuitively know that person is not in optimal health.
Your skin is the largest single organ of your entire body. It serves many functions, from holding you together, to protecting you from “mechanical impacts and pressure, variations in temperature, micro-organisms, radiation and chemicals”,1 to regulation of body temperature “via sweat and hair, and changes in peripheral circulation and fluid balance via sweat”,2 to sensing heat, cold, touch, and pain. It is also your largest organ of elimination.
What can you do specifically, with foods, to protect and support your skin?
Here is a short list of things we consume that harm our skin (I hesitate to call them foods).
Foods to avoid
Coffee is at the top of the list. Before you stop reading, consider the negative effects of tannins on cells, of the dehydrating properties of coffee,3 and the negative effects of caffeine on collagen production.4
Tied for first place is sugar. Sugar, combined with proteins, creates a harmful reaction called glycation. Glycation messes up how your body creates supple and strong collagen, among other things.5 Even fructose – aka fruit sugar – leads to glycation of proteins.6
Additionally, a high sugar diet leads to elevated insulin, which leads to elevated testosterone, which stimulates oil production in the skin and leads to pimples. Dairy (tied for first place as well) has been implicated in much the same way.7
Alcohol (golly, another one tied for first) leads to dehydration in general, and of the skin specifically. It also leads to puffiness and redness of the face. “As Dr Nick Lowe, a professor of dermatology based in London and Los Angeles, says: ‘Alcohol does several things to our bodies, none of them good.8
Foods to enjoy
Some of you might be asking “what can I eat?”
This list is longer and lot a more fun!
Dark chocolate. Yes, you read that right. A bit of organic dark chocolate can help to protect your skin from UV damage9 and reduce rough texture.10
Walnuts, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds (raw) are high in Omega-3 fats, which strengthen the skin and seal in its natural moisture.
Water is THE BEST fluid to drink to hydrate your skin. Nothing hydrates like water. The rule of thumb is to drink ½ oz of water for every pound of body weight, daily.
Antioxidants help to preserve collagen integrity. You’ll find these abundantly in fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate) and in fresh vegetables, too.
Vitamin A (and beta carotene) from orange-colored vegetables and leafy greens is a specific antioxidant that has an affinity for the skin. Vitamin A can help to reduce wrinkles, control acne, and get rid of rough pimply skin on the backs of your arms.
Vitamin C is yet another antioxidant. It’s quite fragile and oxidizes quickly. The fresher your fresh produce the more Vitamin C it will have. While some fruits and veggies are higher in Vitamin C than others, the real rule here is to eat a ‘rainbow’ of fresh produce every day.
Vitamin E has been used for skin health for decades. You’ll find it in nuts and seeds and avocado – all of which also contain various essential fatty acids, as mentioned above.
A wholesome, nutrient-dense diet provides the foundation for overall good health and the resulting beautiful skin.11
How you take care of your body will show up in the health of your skin!
Skipping meals allows the skin to dry out and cheats your entire body of necessary nutrients.
Shorting yourself on sleep may cost you not only skin beauty but skin health. Research has shown that lack of sleep, or poor sleep, can induce inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis12 and can make allergic and contact dermatitis worse.13
While we’re on the topic of sleep – change your pillowcase every three weeks and wash your pillow every 3 months (or more often). Think about how much ‘yuck’ ends up in your pillow as you sleep on it for six to eight hours every day. The accumulation of dust mites, body oils, and body excretions is not something you want to be rubbing your face in. This is especially important if you suffer with acne, eczema, or psoriasis anywhere on your head.14
Exercise regularly. I attended a webinar on the effects of exercise on aging with Peter McCall, MS Exercise, Mesa College. He reported studies proving that physical exercise, especially moderate weightlifting, enhances collagen production. Dr. Mercola echoes the idea.15
It is common knowledge that smoking, and even being exposed to secondhand smoke, damages collagen.
You have a lot of control over whether your skin looks 60 when you’re only 40, or if you get mistaken for your daughter’s sister. Remember, how you take care of your body will show up on your skin.
What does your skin say about your health?
If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.
General resource: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/skin/ss/slideshow-skin-foods
- Altemus M, Rao B, Dhabhar FS, Ding W, Granstein RD. Stress-induced changes in skin barrier function in healthy women. J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Aug;117(2):309-17.
- Grice KA. Transepidermal water loss in pathologic skin. In: Jarrett A (ed.). The Physiology and Pathophysiology of the Skin. London: Academic Press; 1980:2147-55.
Copyright © 2016 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).