More Than Skin Deep – 4 Whole-Body Supports for Healthy Skin

by Cassie Irwin, ND

Zoning in on the acne, wrinkles and dryness you see in the mirror pulls focus from the amazing functions of the body’s largest organ. We tend to forget that the skin serves important roles as a barrier to the external environment, a route for detoxification, and a factory for converting sunshine into vitamin D.

Supporting the skin’s physiological functions can help you feel healthier overall and happier when you look in the mirror.

By the end of this blog, you’ll know how your food choices, supplements, topical skincare and lifestyle practices can change the skin you’re in.

1. Nutrition for glowing skin

Normal skin contains high amounts of vitamin C. This vitamin acts as an antioxidant by protecting against the free radicals produced by UV radiation. Vitamin C is also important for stimulating the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein that helps maintain the skin’s supple texture and shape in our younger years. For food sources of vitamin C, enjoy plenty of leafy greens and fruits, and get your collagen intake from bone broth, fish and chicken.

The mineral zinc plays an important role in acne and scar healing, and can be found in pumpkin seeds, oysters and beef.

Essential fatty acids are helpful for minimizing the dryness and skin irritation common in dermatitis, and can be sourced in fish, walnuts, and seeds.

Those struggling with acne may consider minimizing their intake of refined carbohydrates like processed flour, milk and dairy protein supplements like whey, as well as trans fats. A whole foods diet rich in vegetables and fish is recommended 

2. Supplements for Healthy Looking Skin 

Since we haven’t yet discovered the elixir for immortal youth, we’ve got to do what we can to help the body age gracefully.

We know that collagen production slows as we age , and that air pollution also impairs the production of collagen. This results in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with time. To preserve the skin’s youthful suppleness and texture, you can consider supplementing with collagen powder.

Collagen supplementation has been shown to significantly increase skin hydration and improve signs of skin aging. Vitamin C plays an important role in the body’s own collagen production, and can also play a role as a skincare supplement.

The underlying cause of acne is notoriously difficult to identify in each person, but it’s important to address the functioning of the digestive system, liver and hormones. Depending on the underlying or contributing causes of your acne, you may benefit from taking a liver support supplement to assist in natural detoxification, a hormone balancing formula to address either estrogen dominance or androgen excess, and a probiotic to assist with gut health.

    3. Topical Skincare for naturally beautiful skin

    Choose natural, toxin-free products for everything that comes into contact with your skin; this includes laundry detergent, soap, perfume, shampoo, conditioner, make-up, lotions, moisturizer and serums.

    To help manage acne, consider using an antimicrobial cleanser or moisturizer to help shift the balance of microorganisms on the skin. You may also consider looking for face creams with probiotics added. Topical probiotic applications have been shown to decrease inflammatory mediators produced by acne-causing bacteria.

    To preserve youthful skin, use oils or serums rich in vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Consider incorporating a toxin-free sunscreen into your daily skincare routine to minimize UV irradiation that contributes to premature aging .

    For eczema, try to keep moisturized to preserve the skin’s barrier function and prevent secondary infections from scratching. Consider applying calendula cream and coconut oil, and taking an oat bath to soothe the skin.

    4. Lifestyle TIPS

    Make your reusable water bottle your friend! Hydration levels affect the visible suppleness and softness of the skin, and also the microscopic functioning of the skin as a working organ and barrier to the outside world.

    Regular cardiovascular exercise is helpful for pumping nutrient-rich blood to the skin, to help it renew and rebuild. Exercise also helps promote lymphatic drainage of toxins and waste products.

    Up the ante on blood and lymphatic circulation with Hot-Cold alternating showers. This hydrotherapy treatment is a traditional practice for overall wellbeing that also helps tonify the skin. Use a 3:1 time ratio, repeated twice (three minutes hot water, followed by one minute cold water. Repeat twice. Always end with cold.) The temperature contrast dilates and then contracts the vessels, thereby manipulating circulation. Love your lymphatics even more by adding dry skin brushing and rebounding to your routine.

    And my favourite recommendation of all is to incorporate a stress-relieving practice into your regular routine. Stress reduces the body’s ability to repair tissues (like the skin), and so it may be getting in the way of the skin you’re trying to build. Check out some face yoga exercises to help reduce muscular tension and emotional stress. While wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging, face yoga can help you transform your frown lines into laughter lines!

    Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND

    Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND

    Naturopathic Contributor, The Peanut Mill Natural Foods Market

    Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND helps high-performing women quell anxiety, exhaustion, and overwhelm so they can wield their superpowers while feeling calm, productive, and aligned. Dr. Cassie consults virtually and in her Niagara Falls practice. www.drcassieirwin.com; @drcassieirwin

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