Love the Skin You're In
It’s been said that by a certain age we get the face we deserve. The ravages of bad habits and bad moods, too little sleep, and poor nutrition add up to sags, wrinkles, and age spots we can no longer ignore. And even more unfortunately, the mythical fountain of youth has yet to be discovered; shortcuts like plastic surgery and chemical injections can have numerous problematic outcomes in terms of health and side effects.
However, Jack Grogan, certified nutritionist and chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition in Blissfield, Michigan, explains a way to support optimal skin health. “The good news is that premature aging of the skin is not inevitable. A combination of nutritional ingredients can support and restore the structure and function of the skin from the inside out,” says Grogan.
Grogan explains that excessive sun, stress, overconsumption of alcohol, cigarette smoke, high-sugar diets, poor nutrition, sleep-deprivation, and environmental pollutants can contribute significantly to the rate that skin cells age. “Nutrient combinations act to support healthy skin function by supporting detoxification systems, strengthening skin proteins and connective tissue. They also improve hydration abilities.”
He recommends a well-balanced, potent formulation of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal extracts, and sodium hyaluronate to support healthy skin-cell, protein, and connective tissue function. Grogan outlines how nutrition operates in the body:
Reduce age-inducing oxidative stress in the skin cells and tissues with antioxidants. Powerful plant antioxidants include green tea, tumeric, and grape seed extract, as well as resveratrol and quercitin.
The mineral antioxidants zinc and copper support the biosynthesis of the antioxidant enzyme super oxide dismutase and selenium to support the biosynthesis of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase.
Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble vitamin antioxidant and vitamin E is the primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Nutrients that support healthy sugar metabolism can reduce the rate of skin aging.
The B vitamin, biotin, plays an essential role in balanced carbohydrate and sugar metabolism. Better yet, the fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, benfotiamine reduces the rate of glycation and the skin stress associated with it.
Healthy management of stress hormones is essential for optimal skin health since excessive stress hormones can significantly increase the rate of aging. The B complex vitamins—vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin B5 (or pantothenic acid)—play pivotal roles in allowing the metabolism to more effectively manage the effects of internal or external stresses by improving stress-hormone levels.
Though it is essential for good health, sunlight can also rapidly speed skin aging.
Vitamin D3, the sunshine vitamin, can reduce oxidative skin stress from sunlight exposure. Fern leaf extract can support the health of skin cells and tissues by preventing sunburn and the skin trauma associated with it.
Support of collagen-skin proteins can aid in maintaining a youthful vibrancy and elasticity to the skin structures. The amino acids prolean and lysine and the mineral silica improve and support collagen protein synthesis and aid in maintaining healthy collagen integrity.
The herbal extracts from gotu kola and hawthorne berry also support healthy collagen formation.
The mineral silica increases the rate of collagen-protein production and supports skin-antioxidant protection. It also supports the integrity of collagen proteins.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplies vital sulfur compounds that contribute to healthy collagen protein stability, supports healthy skin detoxification, and protects the skin from the negative effects of excessive oxidative free-radical stress.
The many muscles that make up the face and neck have a large role in maintaining a youthful tone and appearance. DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) is a direct precursor to acetylcholine, which gives strength, tone, and resilience to the muscles.
Proper hydration of the skin tissues contributes to optimal health and function of skin cells’ ability to maintain youthful metabolism, elasticity, tone, and detoxification. Sodium hyaluronate is a mucopolysaccharide that supports cellular hydration, especially in the skin and connective cells. This can directly support healthy skin tone, elasticity, and a healthy fullness to skin tissue.
Of course, diet also plays a key role in the appearance of your skin. As the body’s largest organ for eliminating toxins, the skin reflects the wellbeing of your body. You can trace the real story of your skin’s health in part to what you eat. For that reason, holistic skincare specialists typically treat both the internal imbalances at the root of skin issues—from dryness to inflammation—as well as the external symptoms. They prescribe foods to eat along with foods or food-based products to use on the skin.
“We believe that beauty is enhanced from within and without,” says Philip Cohen MD, ND, and holistic dermatologist for Ecco Bella. “When foods are ingested, the nutrients influence the functioning of organs such as the central nervous system and the liver, which ultimately is reflected in the skin.”
For some people, skin reflects internal issues best treated by a healthcare professional. “Many chronic skin conditions actually stem from the digestive system,” Keegan Sheridan, ND, says. “Inflamed tissue, imbalanced gut flora, and hyper-reactive immune cells in the digestive tract can create or exacerbate skin conditions. So a doctor may decide to treat the digestive tract in this case with oral products versus using a topical treatment on the skin itself.”
Some conditions respond particularly well to both internal and external approaches. When aloe barbadensis, commonly known as aloe vera, is rubbed on topically, it has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties that make it useful for minor inflammations such as sunburn. But aloe also packs a punch when consumed orally. The bitter yellow latex just beneath the outer skin on this plant has gentle laxative effects and can be useful for constipation. The inner pulp of the plant also soothes inflammation in the digestive tract and helps treat gastric ulcers.
Although no one ingredient can give you a glowing complexion, keep the bigger picture in mind. Any food that brings radiance to the skin also enhances the health of the body, and you can’t have one without the other. Remember what your grandma said about eating fresh fruits and vegetables? That common sense applies to beauty too, so eat your avocadoes—and then rub them on your face, as well. Your skin will thank you.