What is your skin trying to tell you?

Author: Alyce Cimino  

With all things health – you are what you eat. Food can either support your health or hinder it and our skin is no exception here. Our skin LOVES nutrient dense wholefoods. It loves foods rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, good fats and foods that boost fibre and support the removal of toxins.

Our skin is the biggest organ in (and on) our body. Our skin is made of many layers but it is categorised into three layers; Epidermis, Dermis and Hypodermis. 

Our skin has several amazing roles… helping to keep our organs and tissues in place, helping us to move, run and play, helping to cool the body while also helping to keep us warm, helping to protect us from harmful external organisms and physical trauma. It even helps with the synthesis of vitamin D! With all these jobs, our skin is very busy, this is why it may need a helping hand every now and then!

Our skin is a reflection of what’s going on on the inside of our body. So what’s your body trying to tell you? Let’s find out!

Dryness

Dry skin is one of the most common issues that affects our skin – it is also one of the most over looked. Dryness directly affects the Epidermis skin layer (the outermost layer), symptoms can be visually dry, itchy and flaky skin, poor lustre and dull complexion.

One of the main causes of dryness is dehydration. Heaters and air conditioners, caffeine and alcohol, exercise and everyday life, can all influence our skins hydration which is why it’s important to enjoy fresh filtered water daily. On average we should consume around 1 – 2.5L of water a day (depending on your age, gender, activity level and weather).

Another contributor to dryness is the reduced intake of dietary fats. Our skin needs good fats to support the health and the vitality of the skin. Food sources such as avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil and small oily fish can all help to support dietary fat intake.

If you are experiencing dry skin, it might be time to assess your beauty, skin care and bathing products and investigate if they may be the cause. Some chemicals can have a drying effect on the skin, so it may be nice to use an organic oil or cream based product instead.

Dry skin can also be alerting us to that the fact that our thyroid gland might not be functioning as well as it could. One of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid is dry skin. So if you are suffering from dry skin, see your doctor and ask for a thyroid function test.

Wrinkles

Wrinkles are a natural part of aging. They tell the stories of our past experiences, the laughter and the joy we have experienced over the years. Physiologically they can be a sign that the body’s repair mechanism is a little bit slow. Commonly wrinkles may also be a sign of dehydration. When our skin is hydrated and plump, it can reduce the fine lines of wrinkles – who knew that drinking water can be one of the most beneficial anti-aging secrets!

Wrinkles can also be a sign of nutrient deficiency, this is a perfect reason to be enjoying your 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit daily. Our skin loves Vitamin C, as vitamin C is essential for collagen production, when we have adequate collagen we experience less wrinkles and our skin has a gorgeous glow and lustre.

Pimples

It is very rare to find someone who has never experienced a pimple. Pimples can tell us a lot about the body and about our overall health. They are often a sign that somewhere, our body isn’t as happy as it could be.

There are many factors behind the cause of pimples, which is why this one can take a little bit of investigation. Typically some of the main causes of pimples are; general skin hygiene, hormonal imbalance, toxin and waste removal, general liver function, gut/digestive health, food intolerances, high intake of processed and inflammatory foods as well as nutritional deficiencies such as Zinc, Iron and Omega 3.

Interestingly, even the location of the pimples can be a key factor when investigating the cause of pimples, showing us which body system may need a little extra love and attention.

A wholefood nutrient dense diet can be one of the biggest benefits when it comes to overcoming pimples. Adequate fibre is key as it can support waste and toxin removal, while bitter foods such as rocket and dandelion root tea can help increase digestive acids and provide further support in the removal of toxins. For further pimple treatment and support see a naturopath in a clinic.

Eczema

Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition which typically presents as dry, red and itchy rash and can affect men, women and children alike. Typically it presents in the creases of the body (eg elbows and back of the knees) however, this is not always the case. While it can be very uncomfortable it is not contagious. There are a few known causes of eczema; including external irritant such as cleaning chemicals or weather, food allergies; commonly dairy and wheat, stress levels and digestive health.

If you are experiencing eczema, it can be a little bit of detective work to find the cause. It may be as simple as your body doesn’t like the washing up or laundry liquid you are using or perhaps it’s as a result of your body telling you it doesn’t love dairy, or perhaps there is too much inflammation in the body. But with the help of your health care practitioner, you should be able to identify the underlying cause and be given the appropriate treatment.

Over the years we have learnt a lot about the digestive system, good bacteria and the role of probiotics in relieving the symptoms of eczema [1] with some studies finding that promoting good bacteria in the digestive system can reduce the symptoms associated with eczema.

If you have severe eczema, you need to be under the care of a medical doctor.

Skin tags

Skin tags are a common skin concern amongst the elderly, though can also effect younger people. Research has suggested that skin tags may be the body’s way of identifying an issue with carbohydrate and glucose metabolism [2].

Skin tags typically present around the neck and shoulders and while they do not pose a health risk, they can be a sign that our body needs a little bit of digestive support or that we may need to make changes to our diet to support our long term health. It is also recommended that individuals do not remove the tags and to consult their health care practitioner if they are concerned.

Key nutrients for gorgeously glowing skin:

Water: hydration is essential - Aim for 1.5 – 2L of fresh filtered water a day to hydrate the skin and flush toxins out of the body.

Fresh produce: Our fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains have a MASSIVE level of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. When we enjoy a diet rich in variety and produce all our body systems benefit. Remember 2 pieces of fresh seasonal fruit and 5 serves of fresh seasonal vegetables daily.

Good fats: both food sources such as avocado and supplementation such as flaxseed oil and fish oil have a positive affinity with happy glowing skin. They work by helping to reduce the inflammation in the body while giving our skin some love.

Zinc: One of the key nutrients for skin health, cellular repair and overall immune response. Food sources include nuts and seeds and oysters. 

Silica: Another skin loving nutrient, working in a similar way as Zinc to support cellular structure and repair.

Probiotics: Love your guts, good health starts in our digestive system. Supporting digestive health and rebalancing our microbiome can be done with the supplementation of probiotics or from our food using fermented foods such as kim chi, sauerkraut and kombucha.

Vitamin C: Essential for healthy glowing skin and the production of collagen. Vitamin C also has a role in general immunity.

Collagen: If you are needing that extra boost you can supplement with collagen directly. Marine Collagen is rather popular at the moment, working to support the structure of skin health.

Exercise: While technically not a nutrient, exercise is absolutely a key factor to happy and glowing skin. When we exercise we sweat, this sweat naturally removes toxins from the service and allows our skin to breath. 

Sleep: when we are tired our skin can suffer. It is important to get a good amount of quality sleep as well as supporting stress levels.

Reference list:

[1] E.Isolauri et al., 2000 Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema, Clinical and Experimental Allergy, Vol 20, Issue 1 p.p 1605-1610

[2] Rasi A et al., 2007, Skin Tag as a cutaneous marker for impaired carbohydrate metabolism: a case control study, International Journal of Dermatology, Vol 46, Issue 11, p.p 1155-1159

 

Written by Alyce Cimino

Alyce Cimino (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified Naturopath with a passion for nutrition, food as medicine and helping others achieve their health goals towards a happy and healthy lifestyle. Alyce believes health begins with delicious whole foods and in her spare time you can find her in the kitchen creating something deliciously healthy or at the beach enjoying the sunshine and ocean.

Alyce has a love for herbal teas, but all teas are better with a little raw cheesecake on the side.


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