5 Tips To Get Healthy Skin From The Inside Out
We all want that clear, dewy complexion that some seem to be bestowed with; the glow that seems to radiant from within. Luckily, beautiful skin is obtainable for us all, here are 5 tips to get great skin from the inside out…
The top layer of your skin is about 80% water and if you’re not drinking enough fluids, this can be quickly reflected in the health of your skin. Sweating is one of our bodies natural detoxification systems, and we need to be properly hydrated for this to work properly. Find water a tad boring? Try freezing some berries, herbs or lemon wedges in ice cube trays and adding to your water for a bit of pizzazz. Alternatively, make your own flavoured water by steeping some fruit slices and herbs in water overnight.
Try these delicious naturally flavoured water combos:
- Mint, cucumber and lime
- Raspberry and mint
- Lemon and blueberries
- Blackberry and sage
Ever notice that the a bad day (or week) is followed by a flare up of your eczema or psoriasis, or an outbreak of pimples? If you have, you’re not imagining things because stress can have a huge impact on your skin health. It can affect the state of your gut, which is critical for good skin and it can make your hormones go out of balance.
Stress affects everyone differently and what can be stressful for some people may not be as big a deal for someone else. So don’t think just because you’ve got less disasters in your life than your friend or neighbour you aren’t affected by stress. What makes the difference is how we deal with it, and that can be determined by your health to begin with as well as your coping strategies and support systems.
While it’s not achievable for everyone to take away the sources of stress, it is achievable to put strategies in place that reduce the burden stress plays on your body.
Ways to reduce stress include:
- Practice mindfulness and meditation – You don’t have to sit cross legged on your office desk and chant ‘Om’ to do this, and I won’t hear you say that you don’t have time to meditate either. Mindfulness and meditation practice only needs a minute and you can practice it anywhere, often without anyone knowing you’re doing it. There are some great resources online that show you how to meditate. One of my favourites is the smart phone app ‘Headspace’.
- Look after your health – Stress can come in all forms and the body has a hard time distinguishing from the different types. If you’re stressing your body out by eating a junk food diet while meanwhile all hell is breaking loose in your personal life, the effect of stress is going to be even worse. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to taking better care of your health, it may be worthwhile seeing a Naturopath or other health care practitioner who will be able to hold your hand and guide you in this process.
- Exercise - A bit of regular exercise works wonders in negating the effects of stress, by burning off our major stress hormone cortisol. Do what feels good – if you’re completely wasted after 30 minutes of stopping exercise you may have pushed yourself too far and that can be a form of stress on its own. Exercise will also help skin health by promoting circulation. I usually recommend a combination of weight training, yoga and a bit of individualised cardio, but the best sort of exercise to do is what makes you feel good and what you enjoy doing.
- Get some green time - Getting outside in nature can be very therapeutic, and can help to reduce stress hormones. The practice of earthing, which is connecting to the earth by walking/standing on the grass bare-foot (or even hugging a tree) is thought to help reduce cortisol and balance hormones.
- See a practitioner – Still stressed up to your eyeballs after employing those strategies? You may need some extra help. This could come in the form of counselling, or perhaps some herbal medicine that targets stress and balances the nervous system, or perhaps it’s a massage or acupuncture session.
3. Cut out the trigger foods
Your digestion has a huge impact on the skin. Acne that is concentrated on the cheeks, chest or back can be a tell-tale sign that your gut is unhappy about something, possibly a bacterial imbalance, or possibly something that you’re eating that is irritating your gut. For a lot of my patients, avoiding common intolerances such as wheat, dairy and eggs (you need to trial an elimination for at least a month) can clear up acne and reduce other conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Processed sugar and foods that contain hidden sugars (like some packet sauces, yoghurts, cereals, drinks and snack foods) are also important to reduce, or even better remove from your diet. Sugar in small amounts here and there is fine, but if you’re getting a lot of it (which can happen when it sneaks into your diet in so-called ‘health’ foods, aka the hidden sugars) it can throw your hormone balance out, upset your gut and your immune system, which can worsen most skin conditions.
4. Chew the fat
Oh my… the ‘F’ word! Unfortunately there is a negative association with the word ‘fat’, and a lot of people steer clear of foods which contain fat with the fear that it will make them fat, clog their arteries, send them to an early grave, etc. I’m here to tell you that fat from food, in it’s un-altered and naturally occurring state, isn’t something to be afraid of – it’s actually important for your health! The right forms of fat can help to deliver vitamins that are important for our skin, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D. A good balance of omega fatty acids which helps our skin to be smooth and soft, and by avoiding the processed fats we can avoid the accelerate ageing that those fats promote.
So what are good and bad fats?
In a nutshell (pun intended ;P ), fats found as they occur in nature are more stable as they have their own protective coating – i.e., the fish oil is protected by being in the fish, the oils from the nuts are protected by being in the nuts. Animal fats contain fat-soluble vitamins and are more stable than vegetable fats so less prone to oxidation. Fats from animals fed on corn or grains tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids than those that are pasture raised (fed on grass or allowed to eat their traditional diets), and too much omega-6 can be inflammatory.
Include these fats in your diet: Avocado, fresh nuts and seeds, grass-fed (preferably organic) meats and animal fats, fish and shellfish, organic eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and butter.
Don’t include these fats in your diet: Hydrogenated, processed or trans fats/oils, non-cold pressed vegetable or seed oils, vegetable or seed oils that have been heated, deep-fried foods cooked in vegetable oil, margarine, bakery goods cooked in vegetable oils.
5. Look after your bugs
As you’ve just learnt, gut health is very important for healthy glowing skin. If the bacteria balance in your gut is out of whack, this is going to make you more prone to developing skin conditions.
Poor diet, stress and use of certain medications including antibiotics and contraceptives are some of the most common reasons why people experience issues with their gut flora.
Dysbiosis, the state of having an altered gut flora (also known as our microbiome) can make your immune system more reactive to allergens, which can worsen eczema. It can also disrupt the immune system, worsening psoriasis. Our reproductive and stress hormones can also be affected by dysbiosis, which can worsen acne, along with most other skin conditions.
Certain probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or LGG® are helpful in the management of eczema and dermatitis, and when taken by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can also help to reduce the incidence of eczema in the baby.
Supporting your gut flora in general by eating prebiotic foods, fermented foods, avoiding irritating foods and if needed, taking probiotics, can be a good way to look after your skin. You can read more about the importance of gut health and a healthy microbiome here.
Do you have any additional tips that you use to get beautiful skin from the inside out? Share them via the comment section below.
P.S If any of your friends have been complaining about ‘Winter skin’, make sure you share this article with them so they can get clear skin in no time!
This article is part of the 2015 ‘Spring Into Wellbeing’ Hub: Check it out for expert health and wellbeing tips, guides and advice from Australia’s leading wellbeing experts – inspiring and empowering you to unlock the path to true wellness this Spring.