Skin Conditions | December 1, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Our skin is an external barrier protecting us from the effects of potentially damaging physical conditions, bacteria, and chemicals. It is also the largest organ of detoxification, releasing and excreting waste products and toxins from within our body.
Thus, when you look in the mirror, it is not surprising that your skin can reveal a lot about your eating habits and overall health. Is it dry, flaky and wrinkly? Is it inflamed and itchy? Or is it smooth, soft and supple?
Exposure to sun radiation, air pollution and tobacco smoke damage the skin and lead to aged skin appearance. On the other hand, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, limited alcohol intake, and enough sleep, will result in youthful appearing skin.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, stated, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Ninety nine percent of human bacteria reside in our gut.
Bacteria break down our food, toxins and drugs, manufacture vitamins and hormones, prevent colonisation by harmful microbes, and play an important role in our immune system.
An imbalanced state of bacteria in the gut, termed dysbiosis, may result in inflammatory responses in the body.
Gut bacteria also maintain the integrity of the intestinal barrier. This barrier is a chemical and physical protective component of the gut, safeguarding the intestines against invasion of harmful bacteria and toxins. Impaired intestinal barrier can result in intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut, a condition that allows leakage of toxic substances into the bloodstream.
Both dysbiosis and leaky gut are associated with a growing number of different inflammation-related disorders, including inflammatory skin conditions
What we eat can influence both the composition and diversity of intestinal bacteria. The Western diet, which is high in animal protein, sugar and fat, and low in fibre, is associated with reduced bacterial diversity, which in turn is linked to obesity and inflammatory diseases.
Naturally fermented foods and beverages are rich in probiotic bacteria that enhance the diversity and composition of our gut bacteria. They are often more easily digestible than unfermented foods, contain higher nutrition value, assist in weight management, and reduce the risk of inflammatory chronic diseases (such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease). They are also very healthy for our skin.
One study found that drinking a formula of fermented barley and soybean for eight weeks significantly increased skin hydration. The same effect was noted in healthy adult women who drank probiotic and prebiotic fermented milk daily for four weeks.
Another study demonstrated that a daily intake of fermented citrus juice alleviated symptoms of atopic dermatitis (eczema). And lastly, when a group of healthy non-smoker males and females aged 40–65 years received an oral supplement of fermented papaya formula for 90 days, their skin showed significant improvements in the markers of skin ageing, such as skin evenness, level of moisture and elasticity.
Foods to include: yoghurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha.
Vitamin A is involved in cell turnover in the skin and required for proper immune function. Vitamin A deficiency is associated with hyperkeratosis, a skin condition characterised by skin thickening, calluses and corns on hands and feet.
Foods to include: liver, eggs, cod liver oil, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, spinach, and kale.
Vitamin C plays an essential role in the production of collagen, the protein that gives our skin strength and elasticity.
Higher vitamin C intake is associated with a lower likelihood of wrinkled skin appearance and may also protect the skin against UV radiation. Vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy, and is manifested in the skin as lesions, rough skin, and poor wound healing.
Foods to include: capsicum, guava, dark leafy greens, broccoli, citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc.), and strawberries.
Zinc has been used for a long time for healing of ulcers and wounds due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and its ability to enhance tissue regeneration. People with acne have been found to be deficient in zinc.
Foods to include: Oysters and other types of seafood (such as crab), beef, pork, turkey, beans, nuts and seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. There is some evidence that they may improve inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Foods to include: Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, mackerel, and herring, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds.
Biotin is a type of B-vitamin that is required for required for metabolism of fatty acids and is often added to skin and hair products. Biotin deficiency can occur in individuals after prolonged consumption of raw egg white, and includes hair loss, dermatitis, and skin rash.
Foods to include: Egg yolk, liver, and yeast
Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells against the damage done by free radicals - molecules produced by our body when breaking down food or from external sources such as to tobacco smoke, air pollutants, industrial chemicals, and exposure to X-rays.
When our antioxidant defence system cannot protect us from free radical generation, it can suffer a condition known as oxidative stress, which among other things is associated with ageing. Antioxidants have been shown to protect our skin from sunlight-induced damage and may increase skin elasticity and hydration. Therefore a diet rich in anti-oxidants may delay the effects of ageing.
Foods to include: Berries, pomegranate, apples, pineapple, oranges, kiwifruit, artichokes, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and kale), red cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, nuts (walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds), and turmeric.
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