Skin Deep - Beauty from Within
It is said that beauty is only skin deep, and I totally agree. It is our thoughts, actions and emotions that describe who we really are, and these are also the qualities by which we should be judged. Not our appearances!
That is not to say that beauty and physical appearance aren’t important though. What your skin's texture, tone and overall complexion do is tell others a lot about your general state of health! Like it or not, your skin tells all of your secrets: what you eat, how you sleep, if you’re under stress… Following are some of the key impacts on your skin’s health and appearance, as well as some tips for improving it!
The number one thing you can do to improve overall skin health is watch what you eat! Whether you suffer from acne, eczema, premature aging or a general dull complexion, your food choices can have an enormous impact! A few general tips:
Processed and fried foods, saturated and hydrogenated fats
Excess sugar and salt
Refined carbohydrates, white flour and commercial baked goods
Increase your intake of:
Fresh vegetables and fruit
Leafy greens (like spinach, parsley and kale)
Healthy fats (avocados, deep sea fish, nuts and seeds)
Whole grains (for example quinoa, amaranth and whole oats)
Supplementation: In some cases, proper supplementation can help to correct deficiencies of certain vitamins, minerals or essential fatty acids that are essential for proper health. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor for specific recommendations that would work best for you!
Drinking plenty of pure filtered water and avoiding drinks that dehydrate you (like caffeine, soda and sugary drinks) is extremely important for skin health. Clear fluids bathe the cells of your skin and body, and keeping them hydrated helps keep skin looking young and healthy and also improves texture and suppleness.
The body reacting to the foods or components of the foods that you’re eating causes some common skin conditions, for example certain forms of eczema and psoriasis. It is becoming very common for many people to be sensitive to or unable to tolerate certain foods, which if consumed, trigger the body to release chemicals to fight against those food particles. This can in turn cause inflammation and pain, itching and scaling, redness and pigmentation changes
If you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions, determining what your particular food sensitivities are can help treat and prevent future outbreaks! Such testing is usually available through your Naturopathic Physician.
A poorly functioning digestive system can be responsible for many common skin conditions, a two common examples being acne and rosacea. Your liver has many key functions that can affect skin health, including protein and carbohydrate metabolism, excess hormone and toxin breakdown, etc. Your intestines are responsible for absorbing nutrients from foods and helping eliminate toxins from the body. If you suffer from acne or rosacea, or from digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea (to name just a few), these are signs that your digestive health is not optimal.
Digestion can be compromised by multitude of factors from lack of digestive enzymes to an imbalance of flora (probiotics) to insufficient fiber intake. Working on healing the digestive system can help not only those irritating or painful abdominal concerns, but also your skin's texture and appearance!
Stress and Lack of Sleep
Ever wonder how everyone knows that you’re stressed no matter what you do to try to hide it? Well regardless of how happy, energetic or relaxed you act, when you don’t sleep enough or you’re constantly rushing, worried or frazzled, the signs are literally “all over your face”.
Dark Circles under the eyes – Poor sleep and stress impact circulation allowing dark “bags” appear where the skin in thinnest – right under your eyes!
Dullness – Chronic stress causes your bodies resources to be depleted, leaving less oxygen, nutrients and energy for skin cells. Healthy cells turn over every 30 days or so, but a stressed body falls behind in cell rejuvenation. When new cells aren’t being adequately formed, old cells end up staying at the surface rather than sloughing as usual, making skin look dull and lusterless.
Cold Sores - Chronic stress impacts immune health, and when that happens, outbreaks not only occur more frequently, they can also take longer to heal.
Worsening rashes, eczema and acne – For a few reasons: one being that the immune system is taxed and less well able to handle insults, but also because the barrier that usually protects your body from bacteria and pathogens is impaired. This allows more toxins to enter, worsening your skins health.
Exercise has so many benefits for your entire body, it only makes sense that it would impact your skin too!
Adequate exercise improves circulation, bringing more blood flow to the skin and therefore improving skin oxygenation, nutrition and turnover.
Sweating helps remove toxins from the body (so make sure you hydrate while you exercise, then rinse the sweat away after!)
Exercise has been proven to improve ones response to stress, as well as improving quality of sleep (thus reducing the impact of chronic stress on the body!).
Exercise just makes you feel good in your body – and that shows in your skin, expression and vitality!
As often as possible, get outside to exercise. The fresh air will improve your complexion and glow!
Exposure: sun and pollution
While getting outside as frequently as possible is extremely important, just as important is protecting your delicate skin from the elements.
Harmful UV rays can cause premature aging, sunspots and in some cases, can lead to melanoma (skin cancer), which besides causing disfigurement can be deadly. Wearing a hat and long-sleeved shirt, and using non-toxic sunscreens (even when it’s overcast) can help protect you.
Sadly, for many people being outside means being in constant contact with smog, pollution and other chemicals. These substances cause direct damage to the cells, rob our skin of nutrients and moisture, and can thus cause premature aging and inflammation (which can worsen chronic skin conditions like eczema).
Try to avoid traffic congestion, smoke/smog and pollution when getting outside. Find parks, trails and clean areas to run, walk the dog and spend outdoor time in.
Don’t smoke or hang around when/where people do! Smoking ages skin dramatically, causing and deepening wrinkles (especially around the mouth!), reducing skin hydration, oxygenation and nutrition, causing yellowing and dullness, the list of negative impacts goes on & on…
Avoiding the knife - Try Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture instead!
Surgery, implants, face lifts, ‘Botox’ injections, lasers and chemical peels… the list of surgical interventions to improve appearance and make you look younger is long. Unfortunately, each has it's share of negative aspects, ranging from side effects of anesthetics, to extreme pain, to high prices. Some involve the use of toxins or potentially toxic chemicals, which may be harmful for health, not all of these methods are successful for many people, and some have to be repeated frequently, meaning you go through the suffering again and again.
As an alternative, consider Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.
Based upon Chinese Medical Acupuncture, a therapy that dates back thousands of years, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is a non-surgical treatment for the skin that involves insertion of extremely fine needles into specific points in the skin. The insertions are very shallow and are besides some minor pricking, are mostly painless. Acupuncture is a very relaxing, stress reducing treatment!
This therapy helps to increase local Qi and blood circulation to the face and neck and stimulate collagen production. Together, these work to gently and naturally:
Fill in lines and wrinkles, and “crows feet”
Tighten pores and loose, sagging skin
Improve skin’s tone, texture and elasticity
Reduce the appearance of broken capillaries
Restore your healthy, glowing complexion.
A course of treatment usually involves 1-2 sessions per week over a 6-8 week time period. Maintenance may be recommended, perhaps every few months, depending on your individual needs.
Dr Holewa is certified in this therapy, and do schedule a chat if you're interested in trying Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture or are curious whether it would a be suitable option for you!
Your skin is the only one you have! Keeping it healthy will help you maintain your youthful, glowing complexion for years to come!
Dr Katarine Holewa, ND