A lot of people struggle with skin conditions and/or just simply want to improve the health of their skin. Who doesn’t want their skin to glow? The skin is the largest organ of the body and vital to detoxification and acts like a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system. What many people don’t realize is that skin vitality, glow and general health starts from the inside and has much to do with what we put in our mouths. For starters drinking plenty of clean water is very important. Many skin products are full of chemicals and other toxins that do little for our skin yet are absorbed into the bloodstream and eventually dealt with by the liver and other detoxifying processes of the body. This unnecessarily taxes our bodies with substances it does not recognize and is yet another thing that is being linked to many health conditions. I see it as one of many ways we are slowly poisoning ourselves.
Many conventional medical professionals discount the connection between skin health and nutrition just like they discount the connection between what we eat having more than little effect on preventing and/or curing modern disease. Because of this many people are taking charge of their own health. Thankfully some doctors are however starting to see the power of food in treating disease as well as maintaining healthy, vibrant skin. One of the most effective ways to treat skin conditions and improve the look and feel of ones skin is through eating certain vitamins, minerals and other compounds found in food. The list includes:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin K2
- Probiotics and Gut Health
Vitamin A: The most vitamin A-rich foods are liver and cod liver oil. Other sources are kidney, cream and butter from pastured cows and egg yolks from pastured chickens. Too much Vitamin A can be detrimental so choosing a fermented cold liver oil is an excellent choice if you plan on supplementing as it provides a balance of Vitamin A and D which work together very efficiently. Can be very effective helping with acne issues.
Zinc: Zinc is involved in so many critical body processes it isn’t even funny. Zinc is best absorbed from animal sources where it is not bound to phytates as in plant sources. Again organ meats like kidney and liver are excellent sources but also red meat such as beef and lamb, and seafood including oysters, scallops and other shellfish. Some plant sources are pumpkin seeds and other nuts but again are bound to phytates which makes them less bio-available. These should be properly soaked to help with this issue. People with serious acne typically have lower levels of zinc then the healthy control group in studies.
Vitamin C: No brainer here and not just for skin health. Eat bell peppers, guava, dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, citrus fruits and strawberries. Red bell peppers and kiwi have more Vitamin C then an orange believe it or not. There are even herbs that contain high levels such as cilantro, chives, thyme, basil and parsley. Try to get as many colors as you can which goes for any vitamin source. Each color of food has different phytonutrients and compounds that benefit the body uniquely.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: One of the best things about consuming Omega-3’s is that this type of fat is being shown to be anti-inflammatory. Everyday science is linking inflammation to literally all modern diseases which is fascinating. It’s crucial to eat a anti-inflammatory diet for optimal health (a blog post for another day) and getting your omega-3’s is a big part of that equation. Cold water fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and black cod are great sources (wild caught only, the nutrient profile of farm raised fish is very different). Fermented cod-liver oil is another excellent source as discussed above. Omega 3’s are great for skin and a whole lot more.
Biotin: Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that helps regulate fatty acid metabolism. This is vital as proper fat production is essential for the skin to thrive. Getting enough biotin helps with dry skin and dermatitis issues as well as other more stubborn conditions. Eat egg yolks and liver as well as swiss chard, romaine lettuce, almonds and walnuts.
Sulfur: If you want to have less wrinkles you need to optimize your collagen synthesis. Collagen plays a big role in keeping skin firm and younger looking (not to mention our joints and hair) and sulfur is necessary for this process. You also need sulfur to produce enough glutathione which is one of the most important antioxidants. Again eat egg yolks, meat, poultry and fish. Another excellent option is bone broth due to its high collagen content and mix of vital minerals. Some good plant options are garlic, onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, broccoli and anything from the cruciferous family of vegetables. Lastly fermented foods can be fantastic sources of sulfur.
Silica: If you are lacking this important trace mineral you could experience reduced skin elasticity and your cuts, bumps and bruises may heal slower. Like sulfur, silica plays a role in collagen production. Look to eat leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus and rhubarb. You can also get silica through trace mineral supplement drops and even some bottle waters like the Fiji brand. The purer the source the more silica your drink may contain especially if in an area where volcanic rock is present.
Niacin: Also called B3. A deficiency is rare unless you have a disease that inhibits niacin absorption such as celiac, IBS or Crohn’s. Other inflammatory gut conditions may also contribute. Real food choices include meat, poultry, red fish like wild-caught salmon and seeds. Other foods that offer niacin are milk, green leafy veggies, coffee and tea.
Vitamin K2: One of my favorites that is rarely heard of in the main stream. K2 has been shown to help deposit calcium in appropriate locations like our bones and teeth and not where it doesn’t belong. Science is even linking K2 to help protect from heart disease, promote better brain function and since it directs calcium the way it does it is excellent for bone health. K2 helps prevent calcification of our skin which results in skin that can spring back…as it were… assisting to smooth out wrinkles and other lines. It is also a great source of healthy fat which is better fuel for our brains than glucose. Consume grass-fed butter, egg yolks (seeing a theme here? Eggs are the bomb!) liver and natto. Fermented food like sauerkraut and cheese as well. Commercial dairy products are not good sources of K2 because these animals are fed grains rather than grasses. It is the grass that is the magic here. If it isn’t grass-fed the benefits of eating it drop significantly not to mention all the other issues with conventional foods (gmo’s, steroids, grains, corn, etc., etc.) You are what you eat what it ate.
Probiotics: Most people by now know that probiotics are super healthy for the gut and help feed the good bacteria/flora we are supposed to have down there but studies are showing they can be very beneficial for our skin as well. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir are all great sources. I also like to drink kombucha. Supplementation is another route to getting your probiotics but real food will always be better just like with anything else. It always comes back to JERF, Just Eat Real Food when in doubt. You literally cannot go wrong doing that. If you do choose to supplement be careful if you have SIBO as some probiotic strains can exacerbate this condition.
Healthy, non-toxic, science based products/resources for healthy skin:
The first link is for a facial mask…best one on the market hands down. I have actually spoken with Andy over Facebook several times and am familiar with his story. He is a sunglasses model for Oakley and is one of the nicest, humblest guys you will ever meet. Not your typical model trust me and his customer service is top notch.
The link above takes you to a Bulletproof product, many of which I highly recommend. It’s a grass-fed collagen protein powder of the finest grade available and is fantastic for skin (remember the importance of collagen discussed earlier?) as well as our bones, joints and to reduce the effects of aging.
This last link (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) will send you to one of the most informative sites I have ever visited. The page you will see first allows you to search products you currently use to see if they are safe (most are not or at least not proven to be….your the guinea pig like with so many other things). Trust me however you will end up exploring the site in further detail as there is SO much great information if you care at all about your health.
In conclusion a nutrient-dense, real food way of eating is very important if you want firmer, healthier skin with less wrinkles not to mention avoiding actual skin conditions/diseases of all types. This kind of diet will of course benefit you in countless other ways but getting enough of the nutrients discussed above will guarantee you’re doing your part and your skin will love you for it! Be careful of what you put on your face/skin as much of it is being linked to things you probably wouldn’t believe. Remember everything you apply to your skin goes into your bloodstream. Let me say that again, everything you apply to your skin goes into your blood and circulates throughout your entire body until eventually your detoxification processes (hopefully) eliminate it. Many people have compromised detoxification systems which is even worse news when it comes to toxins from any source including lotions, shampoos, perfumes, lipsticks, etc. It’s not that hard you just have to be educated, careful and use some common sense. I think the next blog post I will focus on detoxification.
Please comment below with your thoughts, reactions, feelings, questions, constructive criticism or anything else. I hope my readers enjoyed my first blog and please follow me if you like what you learned.
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