Caring For Your Skin: An Inside Job

“Truly healthy skin is not something we can find in a bottle or a jar. It’s an inside job. It begins with health…It’s time to put down the concealer and pick up the fork.”

(Nadia Neumann)

When I turned 13, my mother, who has always been fanatical about caring for her skin, decided that it was time to teach me to care for my complexion. She took me to A&S department store (I’m dating myself, as A&S hasn’t been around for quite some time!) and had me consult with a skincare professional at the Clinique counter. I learned that I had combination skin and was taught which products to use and how to use them. Although I no longer use the Clinique products, I don’t think that there’s been a day since then that I haven’t adhered to my skincare regimen. I have a morning skincare routine and an evening routine that I follow, religiously. I’m often complimented on my skin and I’m extremely grateful to my mother for impressing upon me, from such a young age, the importance of caring for it. But, I now realize that there’s much more to great skincare than what we knew back then…

While I firmly believe that understanding our unique skincare needs and using products that are well-suited to our needs is imperative to keep our skin clear, healthy and beautiful, I now know that products are only one part of the picture. Just as important as what we put on our skin – and some would argue that it’s MORE important – is what we put into our bodies, as there is an intimate connection between our overall health and our complexion.

My understanding of this fact deepened as I read Nadia Neuman’s book Glow: The Nutritional Approach to Naturally Gorgeous Skin. Neuman’s book is based on scientific evidence supporting the idea that the state of our skin reflects our internal environment: hormonal imbalances, inflammation, impaired gut health, blood sugar dysregulation, and lack of adequate nutrients/nutrition.

Neuman’s goes on to identify a number of dietary principles to assist us in nourishing our skin from the inside out. While I was already aware of much of this science from my training as a Health Coach, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the many recipes that Neuman’s included, as a way to incorporate what she refers to as the “glow-getting superfoods” into our diet. I highly recommend her book!

Below are the principles she outlined in the book. You’ve likely heard most of these tips before, as they are tenets of good health, but it serves as a good reminder that our skin will most definitely benefit from this, as well.

  1. Eat real foods (mostly plants and lots of leafy greens, in particular).
  2. Eat a variety of real foods in a variety of colors to insure that you’re getting a wide range of micronutrients.
  3. Make sure you’re getting enough high quality macronutrients:
  • Proteins are required to build and repair skin cells
  • Carbohydrates provide cells with energy
  • Fats are a necessary component of cell membranes. Healthy cell membranes create healthy cells and healthy cells create healthy skin. Note: an adequate ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are important; Most of us have plenty of Omega 6 and not nearly enough Omega 3, so an Omega 3 supplement is recommended for many people.**
  1. Limit refined sugars and avoid artificial sweeteners, soda/soft drinks, alcohol, fried foods (these are definitely glow-killers!).
  2. Eliminate (or at least, limit) gluten.
  3. Increase consumption of probiotic rich foods and/or add a probiotic supplement to your diet.**The integrity of the gut lining greatly impacts the skin, as it’s directly related to the amount of inflammation in the body and the skin.
  4. Support the liver for proper detoxification by increasing your intake of fiber and incorporating liver supporting herbs, teas and foods (like grapefruit and beets) into your diet.
  5. Make sure you’re drinking enough water (everyone should be drinking ½ his/her body weight in ounces) and diuretic beverages, including green tea.
  6. As much as possible, remove physical and emotional stressors to regulate cortisol levels. Hormone regulation is directly related to the health of the skin.
  7. Get enough sleep. Here’s a link to a recent post on this topic.

Note: Be sure to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

I dog-eared several of Neuman’s recipes and intend to try them soon. I’ll be sure to report back to you and, perhaps, post some of my favorites for you to try!

In the meantime, glow-on, girlfriends!

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