In the last decades, we have witnessed an explosion of the skin care and cosmetic industry. The deterioration of our environment and diet afflicts people of all ages, and the demand for skin solutions keeps increasing. But, as our vanity cabinets crumble under the weight of half-full moisturizers, anti-aging or acne-clearing products, we are forced to recognize that for the most part, using topical skin care is as effective as trying to revive a dry plant by spraying some water on its droopy leaves.
“You are what you eat.” We all know the saying. However, it is good to be reminded that since food is absorbed into our bloodstream and used for cell creation, what we eat is literally used as building blocks for our organs. Furthermore, our skin is the biggest organ we have... See where we’re going with this?
When it comes to skin health, the two most common complaints are acne and aging.
As the skin cells are partly responsible for eliminating toxins, when the liver and colon are inflamed and exhausted from detoxifying our systems, it is our skin’s mission to excrete all the nasty leftover stuff (understand pimples, blackheads, rashes, rosacea, etc.). It is thus easy to see how a cleaner, less inflamed system directly leads to a clearer skin.
Now, a word on aging skin; although we can’t help but getting older every day, the aging we are talking about here is not chronological. When free radicals cause the DNA inside a healthy cell to become fragmented or shortened, it is called cellular, or biological, aging. And this, my friend, is good news: it means our skin can look better than ever — no matter how old we are — with a holistic strategy that addresses inflammation and free-radicals.
The following Do’s and Don'ts constitute Wildcrafter’s nutritional approach to skin care. Those tips aim to soothe inflammation, boost the immune function and to support your skin’s natural anti-aging properties by neutralizing free radicals.
- Drink plenty of water. It’s hydrating and helps flushing out toxins more efficiently. If you want to neutralize the skin and enhance your glow, add some lemon and cucumber slices.
And when you get tired of water, switch to green tea: this high polyphenols beverage ranks high on skin-friendly list.
Load up on green juice. This is the one most important thing you can have to improve the quality and look of your skin. Think cucumbers, great for under-eye puffiness, and dark greens like kale and spinach, which contain powerful antioxidants. Throw in a lemon or lime for hydration and ginger as an anti-inflammatory.
Get enough zinc. By munching on whole grains, mushrooms, and nuts, you will build collagen, quicken your body’s ability to heal, and help prevent stretch marks, a dull complexion and zits.
Load up on anti-oxidant rich foods and let them fight the chemicals, pollution, sun, and stress induced free radicals that damage skin cells. Reach for berries, broccoli, kale, hazelnuts, citrus fruits, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, and say goodbye to crinkly and sallow skin. And if you had to pick just one, go tomatoes: besides being a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes are considered a high-carotenoid fruit. These nutrients help slow down cellular damage from free radicals.
Give yourself a break! Try to cleanse and rest your system a few times a year. 3-day raw-vegan or juice cleanses are good places to start. When cleansing, make sure you eat only organic, washed fruits and vegetables and drink lots of filtered water.
Ban packaged foods. All these things contain chemicals that increase the food’s shelf life, and your body cannot process these toxins. Instead, they are stored in your liver and released through your skin. No bueno.
Avoid sugar, as high glycemic foods ultimately lead to glycation. This is a metabolic process in which sugar molecules in the blood bond to proteins and DNA, which over time become chemically modified. Read: wrinkling skin. Additionally, sugar disrupts hormonal balance which can aggravate acne.
Eat Essential Fatty Acids: EFA’s are monounsaturated “healthy fats” that show off countless health benefits, one of those being that they help moisturize the skin from within, making it smoother and younger looking. The best vegan sources of EFA’s are avocados, flaxseed oil, olive oil and walnuts.
Same goes for artificial sweeteners, food additives, trans fats and simple carbohydrates: these are highly inflammatory to many people, and would best be avoided.
Cut down on Dairy and Gluten, especially if you struggle with acne. They are known to disrupt bowel function, which creates toxicity that eventually shows up on your skin.
And next time you look in the mirror, remember that caring for your skin means caring for yourself, from the inside out. See beyond the minor imperfections and smile at the glowing spirit that lies within. Honor yourself and the skin you were born in by adopting the best self-care you can. You deserve it.