Your skin is a reflection of your inner health. It also can boost or lower your self-confidence. One of the nice side effects to starting a Health Programs at the Lucy Rose Clinic is that your skin will start to glow with health as your nutrient levels increase and your diet is cleaned up. But if you want to target healthy looking skin a little more intensely, I am going to share what you need to know and do right now! It is easy and simplistic to say that eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water will give you great skin. That may be the case when we were teenagers!
Unfortunately, there can be much more to it than that. Especially by the time we reach 40 years plus and our collagen production halts to a standstill. This is impacted greatly by genetics, epigenetics, and the toxin load within the body – after all, it has had 4 decades worth of accumulation or more! The below is about internal health, but you can read about topical skin applications here.
I can’t stress enough the importance of the liver here. If you go to a spa or dermatologist, they won’t even mention liver health. However, an overburdened liver can be the driver behind many types of skin pathology and hormonal pigmentation. It can be a sign that the body is trying to eliminate, but needs help. When this process is suppressed with the use of certain medications such as cortisone creams, it can actually drive the imbalance deeper into the body and it will manifest either elsewhere, or more aggressively at a later time.
Other factors which may cause skin rashes and inflammation are hidden food intolerances, particularly gluten intolerance. Gluten can worsen or trigger autoimmune diseases which can then attack your skin. Do you suffer from eczema or know a child who does?
And of course, heavy metals are extremely disruptive in our bodies, and cause nutrient ‘blockades’. So even if you do eat a healthy diet, you may not be getting those good nutrients past the heavy metals and into the cells.
What are the most important nutrients for glowing skin? Here’s a list, and I’ll go into more details later.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3s
- Vitamin A
- And of course – water intake and plenty of sleep tie it all together!
Why are antioxidant so important?
We hear about them all the time, so it’s easy to become dismissive of the importance of them.
The answer lies in the word. Anti – meaning opposite or against. Oxidant – referring to something that causes oxidative stress in the body.
Oxidative stress is a natural phenomenon that is kept in check by various enzyme systems in the body. However, there can be many reasons why the balance gets upset. Prooxidants come in many shapes and forms. Some occur within us as a product of metabolism and response to stress. Other sources come from our environment and from our diet. The main thing to highlight in this article is that we want to increase anti-oxidants to help balance this out.
Because our skin reflects our internal health – particularly our antioxidant status. This is quite clear when you look at someone who smokes and drinks heavily compared to someone who doesn’t of the same age.
- Vitamins that are good for our complexion are antioxidants.
Vitamin C is probably the poster child here! Everyone knows about Vitamin C and how good it is for our body! But did you know that Vitamin C also increases natural progesterone levels? It is also needed by the body to make collagen – the substance which keeps our skin supple and firm, as well as our joints and connective tissue healthy.
Vitamin E is another fantastic antioxidant which when paired with vitamin C, creates a powerful duo. Vitamin C actually revives used vitamin E in the cells to allow it to go to work again. They also help reduce inflammation, heal wounds, and repair the skin.
Wow, is there nothing this mineral can’t do?! We all know that selenium is vital to allow our thyroid hormones to convert from inactive T4 to the active T3.
But did you know that it is also a powerful antioxidant?
Selenium neutralises free radicals and other skin-damaging compounds before they can lead to wrinkles. It’s similar to vitamin E and actually works with the vitamin to safeguard cell membranes, the protective coating around cells. This makes selenium a key player to slow down the signs of aging. In fact, research has shown that it protects against UV-induced cell damage, skin inflammation and pigmentation.
You can even use it topically to calm red and sensitive skin. Find a natural mineral water that has selenium in and use it as a mist or toner.
This essential mineral is low in most of the population, and it has so many functions in our body. Zinc is needed in every cell through our digestive tract to keep it healthy, again it is needed for thyroid hormone conversion. We need it to make serotonin and GABA, the neurotransmitters to keep our moods right. It is vital for stomach acid production which aids our digestion and prevents SIBO and other gut disturbances. The list is long!
Plus we need it for beautiful skin! It reduces the formation of damaging free radicals and protects your skin’s support structure when the skin is exposed to UV light, pollution and other stressors.
It also combats acne – so if you or family have pus forming pimples, up the zinc!
It’s the perfect sunscreen. Topical zinc oxide totally blocks UV rays from penetrating your skin, with no nasty chemicals in it like most commercial sunscreens. My personal favourite product is Nappy Change Cream by WELEDA.
Due to the fact that every cell in the body needs thyroid hormones, it sort of goes without saying that iodine is vital for healthy skin and slowing down visible ageing. Iodine, according to anti-wrinkles experts, is the mineral you need to tone up, firm up, prevent or reduce wrinkles and sagging skin. Iodine is also antibacterial, so will help clear up adult acne from the inside out.
Vitamin A – or retinol – can be used internally and externally for healthy skin.
Beta-carotene is the form of vitamin A that we get directly from the plant foods we eat. The active form of the vitamin is found in animal foods. In our bodies, beta-carotene is converted into the retinol form of vitamin A.
Vitamin A protects against UV damage and slows the signs of aging. It encourages healthy skin cell production and protects against infection. UC damage stops absorption of Vitamin D3.
Topically, it increases cell turnover, helping you shed pigmentation and rough skin cells. If using topical retinol, you must use sunscreen each day.
Omega-3s heal the skin from the inside out. Repairing damaged cell membranes helps to make the skin more resilient to internal and external threats. They also reduce inflammation, easing issues such as eczema and psoriasis. If you have dry skin, you will benefit greatly from increasing omega 3. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been demonstrated to inhibit inflammation in the skin caused by UV radiation, and may even reduce the risk of skin cancer. Dr David Brownstein has a whole book on this topic.
Omega-3 fats are rich in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and black cod, among many others. If you have reflux or indigestion you may not break these down correctly.
A deficiency of biotin causes hair loss and a characteristic scaly, erythematous (red and inflamed) dermatitis around the mouth and other areas of the face and scalp. In infants, biotin deficiency manifests as “cradle cap”, or scaly dermatitis of the scalp. Sources of biotin are egg yolks and liver, and other good sources include Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, almonds, and walnuts. Including these foods in your diet will prevent biotin deficiency and may help improve the production of fatty acids in the skin, returning moisture to dry skin. We commonly use compounded nutrition as it’s easier (and cheaper!) than purchasing multiple supplements, but you can purchase it at the local health food store if you are not currently seeing someone for personal health advice, and don’t mind taking multiple tablets, several times daily. Note: Mouth ulcers and related symptoms may be linked to many different B-vitamin deficiencies, it may be frustrating to take supplements and feeling “They don’t work” when really it was just the ‘wrong one’ for you as an individual.
How do I do all that????
It can be quite overwhelming when you look at the list! And while supplementing can be the factor to instigate a positive change in your skin, diet still plays the most important role. It’s is ESSENTIAL to include ‘Moderation’ and ‘Variation’ is your diet. Is your latest favourite super-food in every meal? You may be overeating it. Kimberly from our Adelaide clinic is obsessed with Nigella seeds at the moment, for example.
Following a Paleo style diet generally ensures that your nutrient needs are met, as long as you eat a large variety of foods in all the colours. I still recommend using a daily multi-vitamin to fill in any nutritional ‘gaps’. Don’t skimp on healthy fats, and ensure you have protein three times a day. Read here about making healthy bone broth.
You can boost your antioxidant levels by swapping a coffee for a fresh vegetable and fruit juice or smoothie. Hibiscus tea is high in vitamin C, and Hawthorne tea has many benefits too!
Cut out all refined sugar from the diet. Sugar drives acne, imbalances hormones, and makes the liver sluggish. Swap a sugar treat for a healthy fat – such as avocado, or home-made coconut oil chocolates.
And I’ll say it again (as I sip from my water bottle). You must drink filtered water. My formula for water intake is 33ml per kilo of your own body weight. (This is based on Dr Ream’s formula for perfect health). So if you weigh 69 kg, it’s 69 x 33 = 2,277mL daily, that’s between 2 and 2.5 Liters daily. Read about healthy water, and the Zazen filters we recommend.
I hope this article has helped you to understand the role of nutrition for beautiful skin. Of course, combining this with a daily skin care ritual with quality products, and plenty of beauty sleep will see you get the results that you want.
Researched and written by Tanya Kurzbock
Tanya is an avid animal lover and believes in the healing power of nature. She initially saw the healing power of natural medicine working with animals when pharmaceuticals could no longer help a very unwell dog. The transformation from sickness to health inspired her to understand the mechanisms behind the healing response.
She later undertook a four year Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy and sought mentors in the field with exceptional experience and knowledge.
Tanya has also faced cancer herself, and cared for a loved one with cancer. She understands the importance of collaborating with specialists and using the best health options at our disposal. She successfully has used conventional medicine in combination with natural medicine to return to health and is cancer free. She now uses natural medicine to treat any ongoing side effects from conventional intervention including, but limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, scenar therapy and homeopathy.
She believes in finding the root cause behind her patients presentation and empowers her patients to take ownership of their health and tune into their own body wisdom.
References and further reading: