Our skin is affected by what we eat, or don’t eat, what we put on it, and by our environment. Consuming trans and saturated fats can clog pores and promote bacteria production and acne. Also, high refined carbohydrate consumption can increase testosterone conversion to DHT, which enlarges the pores and increases sebum (oil) production and acne. (pg 249, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine). Sugar is also a culprit as it is turned into saturated fatty acids by our body and forms a greasy film on our skin.
A lack of nutrients can also cause skin conditions. A deficiency in zinc, antioxidants, fiber, water and EFA’s can cause acne, premature aging, dehydration and sun damage as your skin is less protected from free radicals.
Some foods work well topically to improve suppleness, shine, and clean pores, but some foods contain nutrients which are more effective when eaten. Of course, a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of water will keep our entire body systems working optimally, but these particular nutrients will help your skin looking its best.
- Liquid EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids): Oils containing EFA’s work better internally rather than topically as they can become rancid if left on the skin and exposed to air. Internally, EFA’s, such as walnut, sesame, and flax oil, help improve the skin’s suppleness and makes it less prone to infection.
- Zinc: Zinc is a micronutrient that works particularly well on acne conditions. A deficiency in this mineral can increase the conversion of testosterone to DHT, increase pore size and sebum production. Zinc plays an important role in healing and tissue building. Foods rich in zinc are spinach, oysters, lamb and pumpkin seeds.
- Selenium: A trace mineral that helps to protect against free radicals that can cause premature aging, dryness, tissue damage and even skin cancer. Cold water fish and brazil nuts are excellent sources of Selenium.
- Fiber: The roughage of plant material that binds to cholesterol and other toxins in the body and flushes it out. Daily fiber intake is important for our entire body to keep it clean. The skin is our body’s largest organ, so if the body is not clean, the evidence shows on the outside, usually in the form of skin rashes and acne. An excellent form of fiber is ground flax, an ancient seed that is the richest source of alpha-linolenic acid, plus protein, vitamins and minerals. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and has cancer fighting properties. (pg 430, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill)
- Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E help protect our body from free radical damage that can cause premature aging, tissue damage, disease and the deterioration of fatty acids. Foods high in vitamins A, C and E are berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, wheat germ, carrots, avocado, sunflower seeds, eggs, dairy and spinach.
And, to open up the detox pathways to allow those toxins to escape, always include exercise in your daily routine. It aids in detoxification of toxins through the skin. Sweating is good! And, don’t forget about water. You can liven it up with lemons and berries for flavour and it adds that extra boost of antioxidants.
Jen Casey, CNP