The importance of internal health for skin: Part 2

woman smiling at camera

We know that the skin is impacted by a range of different factors beyond our control, such as genetics, aging and hormones, which is why ensuring we do everything in our power to maintain good internal health is vital. After all, products only go skin-deep.

How to keep your skin healthy

A selection of rainbow-coloured fruit and veg
Patrick Feller/Flickr

A good diet

We’ve spoken about this before, but what you eat is as important as the skincare products you apply. This is because gut health and digestion are vital for controlling and preventing inflammatory substances from entering the body, as well as flushing out harmful toxins. Foods that should comprise your diet include:

  • Mangoes, thanks to their anti-oxidant-based compounds which help protect parts of the skin, such as collagen.
  • Tomatoes, as they boast skin-cancer prevention benefits. One study of mice found that daily consumption of this versatile fruit decreased the development of skin cancer tumours by 50% after UV light exposure, while another human-based study proved that incorporating tomato paste in your meals may help protect against sunburn. These are just two examples, but you should aim to include as many colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible to improve skin health.
  • Kale, as it’s one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against light-induced damage, especially from UV rays.
  • Olive oil, which has been commonly associated with lowering elements of facial aging such as wrinkles and dark spots.
  • Soy, which is believed to reduce crow’s feet.
  • Protein, in general, as this is turned into amino acids – the body’s building blocks. This helps you shed old skin and promotes the formation of new collagen.
  • Chocolate – hooray! Yup, the cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate are believed to improve both the structure and function of skin, such as enhancing a smooth texture, increasing hydration and helping to defend against UV rays. An important note: While tempting, do NOT solely rely on eating chocolate to protect you from the sun! SPF-based skincare products are a must, and you can read more about the importance of this here and here.
  • Green tea, which contains rejuvenating skin cells. It has shown promising results as a potential treatment for certain excess-skin conditions, such as psoriasis and dandruff, thanks to its ability to slow down the production of cells.
  • Omega-3, which – among other things – is found in oily fish, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, may also prevent dryness and flaking of the skin. Vital for the building of cell walls, lowering inflammation and blocking a skin cancer-related chemical, the body can’t make it alone so it’s imperative to include in your diet. Healthy fats, in general, help prevent your skin from becoming dry and wrinkled and are also responsible for its glow.
  • Vitamins. A, C, E – yup, as it’s lettering suggests, vitamins are pretty ace for the skin, too. Vitamin A interrupts the process that breaks down collagen, as well as helping protect against sunburn, while Vitamins C and E work together to strengthen cell walls, protecting you from free radicals and lowering the chance of skin cancer.
  • Minerals, such as Zinc and Selenium, also plays its part, helping to stabilise cell walls and protect from sun damage.
  • Water. A lot of it.

Other studies have also suggested that reducing calorie intake in general by as much as 35% may slow down the cellular aging process, too. It is also advisable to limit the intake of sugar, dairy and highly processed foods. This is because excess sugar can dry out the skin, bind to and damage collagen and cause over inflammation – all carrying negative effects.

Read more about nutrients for skin here

Sensible lifestyle

No, we’re not saying you should never have fun, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Alcohol. Reducing your intake in general is always going to be advisable for overall health – you knew that already. But research has specifically shown that it could lower the risk of skin cancer. It is also important for liver function, which is responsible for breaking down and flushing out toxins.
  • Smoking. Again, we don’t need to point out the dangers of smoking. For skin in particular, however, due to the narrowing of blood vessels and subsequently reduced blood flow, nutrients and oxygen that comes with the unhealthy habit, you’re looking at diminished elasticity– made all the worse by the repetitive movement of pursing the lips while smoking which can create permanent wrinkles. Tobacco also damages collagen and elastin – a big no-no.
  • Sleep. The phrase ‘beauty sleep’ doesn’t come from nowhere. Yup, ensuring you get between seven and nine hours a night will have an overall positive effect on skin function. This is because the body kicks into repair and regenerate mode during deep sleep, doing wonders for that all-important collagen boost. Some specific benefits you’ll notice include a banishing of dark circles around your eyes, enhanced tone and reduced aging.
  • Exercise. Also has a positive effect.

Keep on top of mental health

When we talk about internal health, it’s not just the physical side of things that can have an effect on your skin. Ever noticed, for example, a spot popping up on your face just before an important event? That’s because scientists have identified some links between stress and skin problems such as acne, dryness and rashes, posing that stress can increase the amount of sebum in the body (the oily substance that keeps skin moisturised but can also block pores). Excess adrenalin and cortisol – hormones associated with stress – can also encourage the breakdown of collagen over time, as well as depleting our levels of Vitamin C and weakening the gut, which can also lead to increased inflammation.

Feeling stressed? Book yourself in for a relaxing massage or facial here

 

Featured image: Manuel Alejandro Leon/Pixabay

The importance of internal health for skin: Part 1

close-up of woman touching her face with eyes closed

The eyes may be the window to the soul, but a lesser-known, yet equally important fact, is that the skin is a window to the body. Whether it’s the acne breakouts of the teenage years or the radiant glow of pregnancy, our skin tells a story. The key to good skin, therefore, is internal health.

In this two-parter, we will first look at the importance of internal health for skin – and the external signs that may indicate something serious is going on within the body – before moving on to all the ways you can keep your skin healthy from the inside out next week.

Importance of skin health

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is in assuming the skin solely plays an aesthetic role. In fact, it is the ultimate multitasker of the human body. Just a few of its jobs include:

  • Being the first line of defence, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, pollution and chemical substances, as well as acting as a shock absorber
  • Recognising pain sensations
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Protecting us against the sun
  • Maintaining the balance of fluid
  • Controlling moisture loss

Book a skin consultation with one of our qualified therapists here!

Skin conditions linked to health issues

It stands to reason, therefore, that certain skin conditions may well act as a red flag to something more serious going on:

Itchy skin

  • Liver disease. itchy skin could be an early symptom of liver disease, with one German study of almost 1,200 adults finding that an ongoing itch – as well as eczema – was strongly correlated to it. Hepatitis C – a virus that can infect and damage the liver – is just one example.
  • Allergies. From food to cats, all types of allergies can cause hives on the skin – even hours after initial contact.
  • Lymphoma. Itchy skin is often an early sign of this type of cancer and will usually be severe and constant. According to a survey of 100 patients, 88% reported ongoing itching which got worse as the cancer advanced.

the words dry written in cream on a hand

Image: ADragan/Shutterstock

Dry skin

  • Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland which doesn’t produce enough hormones – can be characterised by dry and dull skin, along with brittle hair and nails, fatigue, anxiety and extreme temperature intolerance. The chances of this are higher if you never experienced eczema as a child.

Read more about dry skin – and how to treat it – here

Acne

  • PCOS. If along with acne you experience excessive facial hair, weight changes, thinning hair and an irregular menstrual cycle, your body may be alerting you to the fact that you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The acne – in this case – would normally be found along the lower face and jawline.

a woman holding a magnifying glass up to her face revealing pigmentation

Image: lado/Shutterstock

Hyperpigmentation

  • Diabetes. Not only can patches of dark skin signal underlying diabetes, it may also cause a skin condition called plaques, which is characterised by thick, shiny areas caused by blood sugar-related changes in blood vessels. Elevated levels of blood sugar can also interfere with the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.
  • Hormonal diseases are sometimes signalled by a darkening of the skin, most visible in skin folds and joints.

Read more about hyperpigmentation – and how to treat it – here

Rash

A rash that does not respond to treatment and is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, joint pain and muscle aches, could be a sign of infection.

  • Shingles. A painful rash is often the first sign of shingles, which is a re-activation of the chickenpox virus you probably had as a child.
  • Diabetes. Yet another sign that you may have this blood sugar disease could be in a rash on the back of the neck or around the arms, slightly darker in colour than your normal skin tone.
  • Hepatitis C. Also characterised by a purple rash on the lower legs that doesn’t respond to medication.

At Lovoir, we’re always available to help you with skincare, but if you’re worried that something more serious might be going on always see your doctor first.

Next week: Tune in to the second part in which we outline all the ways you can improve skin health from the inside out.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Featured image: Diamantino Santos/Pixabay