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Home > Research Department  > Health Concerns Articles > Skin Health
    Health Concerns Articles  
SKIN HEALTH
Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.) Last Updated:

TAKING CARE OF YOUR SKIN FROM INSIDE AND OUT

It's important to take care of your skin.  What you can do with the right foods and supplements can make as much of a difference as what you do from the outside.
Your skin is constantly exposed to stress from the environment such as sunlight, pollution, wind, and toxins.  By taking the right supplements, you can improve the health of your skin and reduce premature aging...
The skin is the largest organ in the body.  It has several important functions.  It acts as a barrier to the external environment including harmful microbes, chemicals and radiation.  It allows the exchange of water and some nutrients.  It can eliminate toxins, minerals and other substances that have built up inside the body.

It modifies vitamins, like vitamin D, into more active forms.  It helps to regulate body temperature.  It is a monitor as to the health of our internal environment because the skin is one of the last organs to be nourished.  Signs of deficiency often show in the skin before other areas of the body have been affected. 

Healthy skin also impacts on our mental and emotional well-being because skin is one of the first things we notice when we see someone.  Skin can be used to judge a person’s age, social status and health.  Billions of dollars are spent each year in the cosmetics and personal hygiene industry.  A great majority of this is to make our skin look healthier and more youthful.  What can we do naturally to help our skin so that it will be healthy and maintain its youthful appearance?      

Skin is made up of several layers.  The epidermal outer layer contains keratinized skin cells.  It is the fibrous, protective shield for the body.  The epidermis is firmly attached to inner layers of irregular connective tissue, the dermis.  The dermis contains collagen, the structural support, and elastin, the stretchy support.  Only the dermis has blood supply, nutrients reach the outer skin layers only by diffusion.  

Degeneration of the skin occurs for several reasons:

            · Free radical damage

· Lack of moisture (water) and oil

· Lack of nutrients and protein

Free radicals are unstable molecules that in their bid to become more stable must bump into healthy cells and cause damage.  This can cause cell death, alterations in genetic material and autoimmune reactions to damaged cells.  Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the major contributor of free radicals that build up in the skin.

Skin oil is produced in the sebaceous glands.  Its job is to coat the skin and prevent too much water from evaporating off the skin’s surface.  Water keeps the skin hydrated. The connective tissue in the dermis is composed of elastin and collagen.  These substances need a supply of protein and nutrients to repair damage and form new tissue when needed.

What you can do FOR HEALTHY SKIN:

- EAT LOTS OF VEGETABLES
- TAKE PROPER PRECAUTION WHEN OUT IN THE SUN
- TAKE PLENTY OF ANTIOXIDANTS
- DON'T EAT FRIED FOODS
- TAKE ESSENTIAL FATS - THEY HELP TO MOISTURIZE THE SKIN FROM THE INSIDE
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
- DON'T SMOKE OR DRINK COFFEE;  CAUSE THE SKIN TO AGE PREMATURELY

DID YOU KNOW?
(SKIN HEALTH FACTS)

- A MAJOR CAUSE OF PREMATURE AGING OF THE SKIN IS EXPOSURE TO SUNLIGHT.
- NATURAL COSMETICS ARE PREFERABLE BECAUSE THEY HAVE FEWER CHEMICALS IN THEM.

Sunlight, poor diet, dehydration, environmental factors, chemicals, medications, hygiene routines, stress and disease elsewhere in the body all decrease the body’s ability to maintain healthy skin.  This can result in poor skin quality, occurring in the following conditions:

Acne is a common skin complaint is characterized by pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.  It affects most of our society at some point in their life. 

Nutritional deficiencies, exposure to environmental toxins, stress, genetics, hormonal imbalances and some pharmaceutical drugs can cause acne.  It is rarely caused by uncleanliness. 

Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin.  It is a general term that describes skin that scales, flakes, thickens, and weeps, crusts and itches.  The skin may also change colourEczema is a term used interchangeably with dermatitis.   Atopic dermatitis is caused by allergies, temperature change, stress and infection.  Contact dermatitis or allergic dermatitis is caused by skin contact with an irritating substance.  Seborrheic dermatitis is dermatitis affecting the scalp or face.

Dry skin can be simple or complex.  Simple dry skin occurs when the skin is deficient in natural oils and fails to hold water in skin cells.  Oil normally lubricates the skin and acts as a barrier to avoid excessive evaporation of water from the upper layers of the dermis.  Simple dry skin usually occurs in women under the age of 35.  Complex dry skin lacks both oil and moisture. The protein components of the skin may be damaged from prolonged UV exposure.  Complex dry skin tends to develop brown spots, fine lines and enlarged pores.  Complex dry skin usually affects older adults and is associated with aging.

Psoriasis is a common skin condition in which there is an increase in the production of skin layers.  Thick, silvery scales surrounded by a red border characterize psoriasis patches.  Triggers for psoriasis include hormonal changes, emotional stress, recurrent skin irritations, surgery, cuts, medications, poor diet, and poor digestive function and alcohol consumption. 

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition in which acne-like pustules form in people over the age of 30.  It is caused by an increase in sebum production.  The first stage involves a reddening of the skin on the cheeks and nose, and later, the forehead and chin.  Acne forms and pustules are visible.  Tiny blood vessels can be seen below the skin’s surface.  Underlying causes can be toxin accumulation, improper nutrition, insufficient stomach acid, food sensitivities, liver or gallbladder dysfunction or hypertension.  Rosacea outbreaks are worsened by stress, worry, sunlight, heat and the consumption of coffee and alcohol.  

Wrinkles form when the skin loses its elasticity and maintains a permanent crease.  It usually happens around the eyes, cheeks and lips because these areas repetitively form facial expressions like smiling or frowning.  The most important factor in the development of wrinkles is sun exposure.  Damage from UVA rays, which are present all year round, can attribute to up to 90 percent of skin aging.  Other factors that contribute to wrinkled skin are nutritional status, habitual facial expressions, stress, skin care, environmental pollutants, smoking and heredity

You can optimize your skin health and protect against skin degeneration in many ways, including:

            ·  Follow a healthy dietary plan

            ·  Drink lots of filtered water.

·  Reduce the accumulation of toxins and waste products with regular organ detoxification

·  Have a balanced lifestyle with time for exercise and relaxation

·  Minimize exposure to the sun and wear sunscreen year round.  Do not smoke.

·  Have a daily skin regimen that includes skin-nourishing hygiene products.

·  Use appropriate nutritional and herbal supplements

Dietary considerations can be made to optimize skin health and decrease free radical damage. Consuming antioxidants and including whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables into your diet will not only benefit your overall health but also the health of your skin. Fruit, especially mango and apricot, will provide water and alpha-hydroxy acids. Whole grains, sunflower seeds and raw nuts are high in zinc and sulphur rich foods like eggs, asparagus, onions and garlic help to build protein in the skin. Essential fatty acids that should be included for optimal skin health can be found in cold-pressed oils such as olive, sunflower, flax and safflower. Consuming too much of the following is detrimental to skin health: chocolate, soft drinks, sugar, fried and fast foods, cigarettes, alcohol and hydrogenated fats.

Drink lots of filtered water to hydrate the skin.  Depending on your body size 1.5 to 2L of water daily is usually sufficient.  Increase this amount if you exercise, are in a hot climate, drink alcohol or coffee or are taking medications that cause you to lose water.

Detoxification promotes skin health by reducing the build-up of toxins and waste products throughout the body.  To help detoxify the body avoid packaged or fast foods, coffee, black tea, chocolate, alcohol, white sugar, salt, condiments, tobacco, dairy products, fried food, preservatives or artificial sweeteners.  Consume 2L of filtered water daily, herbal teas and 100% pure fruit juices.  Eat fresh or steamed fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, soy products, nuts, seeds, cold pressed vegetable oils and spices.  Drink a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon each morning to regulate bowel and liver function.  Use supplementation to focus the detoxification on one or more organs.

Lifestyle factors, like emotional stress and inactivity, negatively affect skin health. Stress increases the production of free radicals.  When an individual is under stress their diet tends to suffer, which can also compromise skin health.  Inactivity decreases circulation to the whole body including the skin.

To prevent free radical damage to the skin avoid direct sunlight.  Use sunscreens with full UV protection of at least SPF 15.  Smoking generates large amounts of free radicals and contributes to skin wrinkling.

Avoid chlorinated tap water for bathing.  Use gloves while handling any substance that irritates the skin.  Avoid perfumes and
colourings in laundry and personal hygiene products.  Use glycerin and natural soaps to wash your body, face and hair.  Bath or steam the skin with herbs for healing and rejuvenation.  Invest in high quality natural cosmetics.  Dry skin brushing is a wonderful way to exfoliate the skin, increase circulation to the skin and invigorate the body.  Use a natural bristle brush.   

The following list of supplements can be used to manage skin health.  Adult doses are given.  (CLICK SUPPLEMENT NAME FOR PRODUCTS).

SUPPLEMENT DOSAGE THERAPEUTIC EFFECT
Silica 1000mg horsetail extract daily Needed for production of proteins to repair damaged skin
Essential fatty acids (flax and evening primrose)

Flax 2-4 tbsp daily

EPO 1000 to 3000 mg daily.

Active ingredients are linolenic and linoleic acid that are used for skin repair and proper fat metabolism.
Collagen or Hyaluronic acid As directed on label Provides proteins needed for effective repair of skin.
MSM 2000-6000mg daily A sulphur containing substance to help the production of elastin, collagen and keratin.  Has been shown to reduce skin wrinkling.
Betaine HCl As directed on label Low levels of hydrochloric acid are commonly found in dry skin sufferers.  Do not use if you have stomach ulcers.
Vitamin B complex 50-100mg 3 times daily The body’s natural chemical processes, including digestion, need B vitamins.  Biotin or B6 deficiency has been linked to dermatitis. Helps the body when under stress. 
Zinc 30-80mg daily, do not exceed 100mg daily Helps heal tissues and is involved in the oil production of the skin. Consider supplementation with copper for long-term use.
Vitamin A 50000 IU acutely, then 5000-25000 IU daily.  Helps heal the skin.  Do not use when pregnant.
Red clover, dandelion leaf and root, milk thistle, burdock root As directed on label One or more herbs can be used as a tea, tincture or raw herb.  They help to cleanse the liver, kidneys and blood.
Also beneficial for DRY SKIN: Multivitamins, digestive enzymes, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, chromium, garlic, chlorophyll, MSM, selenium, chamomile, gotu kola, goldenseal.
For informational purposes only.  Please consult your health care practitioner before taking natural health care products. Click here for full disclaimer.


All articles copyright National Nutrition 2001 - 2015.  For educational purposes only.  Please note that while National Nutrition supports your right to use natural health care products for any therapeutic purpose that you see fit, that the information on this website should not be considered as a claim or as a substitute for medical advice.

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