Achieving clear skin often involves looking beyond the surface and exploring on a deeper level at the internal workings of areas such as hormones and gut health to get to the root cause of the problem. We often think that once our teen years are over we will no longer have issues with our skin, yet the reality is that many Women still experience skin problems well into their adult years due to various reasons. In order for our skin to be healthy there are some key functions that need to be working well including:
- Detoxification – Exposure to toxins occurs not only through our food, water and air but also from chemicals in products that we use. Our body’s pathways of elimination include the bowels, kidneys and skin which is why these pathways need to be functioning efficiently. If your body is overloaded with toxins then it will often show in your skin. Signs of poor elimination include constipation, absence of sweating, foggy mind, poor concentration, fatigue and headaches.
- Hormonal Balance – If you experience acne around the jaw line as well as before and during your period then you are most likely experiencing acne due to a hormonal imbalance. Excess Estrogen can often causes hormonal acne as well as excessive Androgens which causes the sebum in your skin to become thicker and block the pores, leading to inflamed skin. If you experience irregular cycles, painful periods and heavy bleeding then you most likely have a hormonal imbalance. Two major triggers of skin breakouts that are linked with hormonal imbalance are sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption as well as stress. These things all increase stress hormone production which interferes with the production and secretion of Estrogen and Progesterone.
- Gut Health – There are many aspects to gut health including digestive function, which requires adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down nutrients and absorb them. It also involves healthy gut flora, a balance between the good and bad bacteria as well as a healthy gut lining which is free from inflammation. Things like poor dietary choices, nutritional deficiencies and food allergies can contribute to poor gut health including inadequate stomach acid and/or digestive enzymes, chronic inflammation, leaky gut and bacterial overgrowth.
- Nutrition – Our skin requires certain nutrients to keep it healthy. The most important of these include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Zinc. If you are not getting adequate nutrition from your diet, or your requirements are higher due to things like physical training, illness, restricted diets or pregnancy, then it is important to supplement in order to prevent deficiency.
So how can you ensure that these functions are working well in order to achieve healthy skin? Below is a list of foods, herbs, supplements & practices that will get your skin from angry and irritated to clear and glowing.
Boost Your Digestion
- Bitters help to stimulate stomach acid, thereby increasing digestion and absorption of nutrients. They are also alkalising and promote detoxfication of the liver. Some greens to include are Spinach, Silverbeet, Kale, Salad Greens and Rocket.
- Fermented Foods such as Apple Cider Vinegar, Kombucha, Miso, Kimchi, Kefir and Saurkraut are forms of fermented foods which are wonderful for healing the gut and balancing the gut flora which is essential for digestion and therefore clear skin.
- Natural digestive enzymes include Bromelain from Pineapple and Papain from Papaya. You can also purchase digestive enzymes in supplement form which contain lipase for fats, amaylase for carbohydrates and protease for protein to help boost the production of digestive enzymes.
- Esnure your bowels are working well to eliminate toxins by boosting your water intake and fiber through eating wholegrains, beans/legumes, fruit and vegetables. You can also take slippery elm or psyllium husk if you need some extra support.
- Stress plays a major role in skin health due to the release of hormones such as Adrenaline and Cortisol which can have a negative impact on many different systems within the body but especially the reproductive system and the gut. Taking time out to rest, minimising your to do list, making time for friends, family and hobbies/interests is important. You can also try things like yoga and meditation as well as exercise which helps to eliminate stress hormones from the body.
- Licorice Root, Rhodiola and Withania are all great for supporting adrenal function and increasing resistance to stress. When combined with herbs such as Lemon Balm and Passionflower and the mineral Magnesium which all help to promote calmness and reduce stress and anxiety, these are great remedies for supporting the nervous system.
Increase Skin Loving Nutrients:
- Vitamin C Rich Foods such as Berries, Kiwi, Capsicum, Citrus and Broccoli are all rich in Vitamin C which is an important nutrient with anti inflammatory and anti oxidant benefits. It is also necessary for the production of collagen in the skin which naturally decreases with age, therefore ensuring you are eating Vitamin C rich food in your diet is important for healthy skin.
- Vitamin A rich foods are anti inflammatory and gut healing due to their ability to create healthy tissue.and heal wounds. Foods to include are Sweet Potato, Carrot, Pumpkin and Green Leafy Vegetables.
- Protein is essential for healthy skin as it forms the building blocks of creating new tissue and healing old or damaged. Protein foods to include are nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu/tempeh, greek yoghurt and eggs. Protein also helps to balance blood sugar and regulate sugar cravings.
Hormone Balancing Herbs
- Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Shatavari are all Estrogen Modulating herbs which means that they increase Estrogen if its low, and Reduce it if it’s too high, enabling the balancing and regulation of Estrogen. Vitex is another herb that has the ability to regulate hormones, but rather than acting on Estrogen, it specifically acts to boost Progesterone, which is dominant in the second phase of the menstrual cycle which can help to to regular the overall cycle and balance the ratio of Estrogen to Progesterone which is essential to healthy hormones and skin health.
Natural Skin Care Routine
- Developing a a natural skin care routine free from toxins and chemicals is very important for healthy skin. Many commerical skin care products contain nasty ingredients which have adverse affects and should be avoided. There are many natural alternatives out there for cleansers, moisturisers, exfoliating scrubs and cosmetics so there really is no need to be using harsh and toxic products.
Reduce & Balance Blood Sugar
- Excessive sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption causes an imbalance in blood sugar which therefore can create an imbalance in the production of the stress and sex hormones. This is why regulating blood sugar is important for clear skin as it is often a major trigger. Cinnamon is a great food for regulating sugar as well as nutrients such as B3, Magnesium, Chromium and Zinc.
- It is important to eat wholegrains over refined carbohydrates in order to stablise blood sugar levels and ensure optimum nutrition. Wholegrains include Oats, Brown Rice, Rye, Spelt, Quinoa, Millet, Wholewheat, Barley and any other grain that has not had the outer shell removed.
- Lymphatic Herbs such as Calendula and Echinacea help to stimulate the lymphatic system which is responsible for eliminating toxins and wastes via the skin. Lymphatic congestion can cause skin problems due to the build up of toxic waste in the body. You can take these herbs in the form of tea or tincture daily for best results.
- Nettle, Burdock, Red Clover, Spirulina and Chlorella are all considered blood cleansing herbs and help to remove toxins from the body. They can be taken daily in the form of herbal tea or tincture for best results.
- St Marys Thistle is a great herb for detoxification of the liver. When our body is over burdened by toxins it affects all systems including the gut, nervous system and reproductive system which in turn affects skin health. For healthy skin you need your liver to be functioning and removing toxins, wastes and excess hormones.
- Exercise is super important for removing toxins via the lymphatics, any exercise that makes you sweat including, cycling, high intensity yoga, weights, up hill walking and running are all great.
- Skin irritation is often characterised by inflammation and therefore including remedies such as Aloe Vera, Turmeric, Glutamine, Vitamin C and Zinc can help to combat inflammation from the inside out and encourage healing.
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