These aren’t your typical “wash-your-face,” “drink-plenty-of-water,” and “stay-out-of-the-sun” recommendations. I know you already know about those simple things, so I’m going below the surface and getting a bit deeper here to touch on some things that will improve your skin on a deeper level (as well as your overall health).
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, or you are a patient of mine, you hear me say this all the time, “Eat real food.” Our body is fueled by the nutrients (vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates) we get from eating food and your skin is part of your body, right? It’s not nourished by something that started as food and then processed into something sold as a “food” on a shelf, but somehow this has become our modern-day norm. To extend the shelf life of foods, fruits, vegetables, animal-sourced proteins and healthy fats are processed into something that is then edible or “improved” for the consumer (eye roll). It’s what most Americans have come to know as *real* food and our bodies and skin are left starving. Sadly, this process strips the food of what is important: the nutrients, and we overeat them trying to fill a void created by the nutrient-deficient, fake foods. They even fortify these foods with synthetic nutrients. The funniest thing out there is “fortified“ bread and milk (I’m shaking my head). Question: Why do we need to fortify something that we are eating if it’s safe and healthy to eat? Answer: Because overprocessing ingredients depletes the original makeup of the food so they need to add nutrients…man-made nutrients (the plants must be giggling). Keep in mind, our body is not fueled by synthetic, man-made vitamins and minerals. Our bodies, skin included, are fueled by nutrients from real food. It’s that simple. We need fruits, vegetables, animal protein and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and healthy oils.
When I was a young girl, dinners became easier to make in the newfangled microwave or mixed with some noodles and spices that came from a box (don’t get me wrong, that “helper” tasted yummy!). Today, most Americans eat meals out of the microwave, restaurants, fast-food or from a box, and our bodies are screaming with symptoms…including our skin!
So, the number one lifestyle habit for healthy skin is to EAT REAL FOOD prepared by you.
Cut out the processed, fake food and watch your skin start to rapidly improve.
The previous paragraph is a great lead into my next passion…. sugar! I say it’s a passion because I simply love the stuff. I was, and in all honesty, still am addicted to sugar. I work daily on not jumping back on the sugar roller coaster. The highs and lows are brutal and it’s horrible for your skin. All forms of the stuff are detrimental to our skin. Candy, cookies, desserts, breads, chips, crackers, pizza…I have a love/hate relationship with sugar. And the more I learn about it, the more I dislike it.
Sugar is linked to so many diseases and I know there are many more that future research will expose. Here’s one thing I will share about sugar, it will age you rapidly!!!! I won’t get into the science behind it in this short article but know this; having excess sugar in your blood stream causes wrinkles. It’s that simple. If you want fewer wrinkles on the inside (your arteries and intestines) as well as on the outside, don’t eat processed carbs and sugar. Get actual vitamins and minerals your body will use from the healthy carbs you eat (fruits and veggies) and ditch the sugar.
As I sit here typing this in our camping trailer in the mountains, I’m looking at a box of Organic Golden Round Crackers. I haven’t had any yet, but if I partake in even a few crackers with my cheese and turkey slices, I will have to work when I get home to not fall back into my sugar struggle. It’s a drug and it’s that easy to fall off the wagon. That sounds so silly, but it’s true. What I do find that helps when trying to eliminate processed carbs and sugar is to give myself the foods that help feed my body (refer to paragraph one) and consume those in their true form. And as for carbohydrates, which our bodies need for energy, I consume natural carbs…fruits and vegetables, and focus on getting several servings a day. A very simple measurement to follow so you don’t overeat the fruit and consume too much fructose is for every ½ cup of fruit I consume I eat at least 1 cup of veggies. Also, I usually eat my fruit in the morning with breakfast and then eat veggies the rest of the day. That way, I’m certain I won’t overdo the fruit and then realize too late in the day that I haven’t had many vegetables.
On to #3
MOVE! Yep, our bodies were meant to move. I like to call it “move” because exercise makes me feel like I’m being forced into some workout attire and need to spend money at an expensive gym. There are so many ways to move and it’s something we should do throughout the day. Working out hardcore for 60 minutes at 4:30 a.m. and then sit on your fanny the rest of the day isn’t what I’m talking about at all. There are studies that show the body was meant to move periodically, not just for an intense burst and become inactive for the rest of the 23 hours.
With that being said, at least 30 minutes of focused movement in your day with periodic movement throughout your day is best. Whether it’s yoga, running, swimming, jump roping, hiking, biking, martial arts, or simply the best: walking…just do it!
At least 30 minutes a day will greatly improve your skin. Why? Because movement moves your lungs and as your right lung moves it massages your liver, which in turn moves the liver, and in my medicine, you want to keep your liver moving and happy. When your liver moves it helps pump the lymph through your lymphatic system. Your lymphatic system is like the garbage company in a city. It collects and removes the garbage and takes it away, so your living space remains clean. The lymph cleans our system, brings white blood cells to areas where needed and carries the junk we don’t need so the large intestine can release it from our body. So, “exercise” is super important to aid your lymphatic system in staying healthy by keeping it moving. Age spots, wrinkles, pale complexion can all be improved by a healthy lymphatic and cardiac system, so move it, shake it and move it again.
Remember those nutrients I was telling you about above in #1? Well, without good digestion, you won’t absorb them into your body, and that doesn’t help your skin. Your skin needs natural vitamins and minerals from food, and you must be able to digest your food well. You guessed it, #4 is good digestion.
Healthy digestion means the digestive tract is breaking down the *quality* foods you are ingesting and absorbing into your blood stream. If you are eating foods that cause inflammation (fake foods), eating while working/driving, and eating sugar, your digestive tract won’t be able to efficiently absorb the nutrients you consume due to inflammation in the digestive tissue. Inflammation is linked to all disease and is definitely tied to skin issues. All those things mentioned above will cause inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation in your GI tract actually slows your lymphatic system, that important system that removes the junk and is a major component in your immune system. Are you seeing how all of these tips are tied together?
How do you know if you have digestive issues? Well, if you experience gas (smelly or non-smelly), bloating, constipation, diarrhea, irregular poops (you should be going at the very minimum once daily), heartburn, belching, cramping, upset stomach, weight gain in your belly, hips, thighs, and cellulite, you have some digestive issues. So, what do you do? First, refer back to paragraphs 1,2, and 3. Seriously, stop eating fake foods because they cause your digestive tract to be irritated and inflamed and you never feel satisfied, so you overeat. Second, cut out sugar because it causes issues in your entire digestive tract starting with your stomach acid levels. And third, start MOVING because it will help your lymphatic system. Sounds simple, and it is! Truly. I also want you to know that just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Habits can be hard to break, and you know what? YOU. CAN. BREAK. THEM!!! Start with these 5 changes and not only will your skin improve, your entire body (joints, brain, heart, kidneys, muscles) will thank you.
OK, last but certainly not least…SLEEP. The human body needs sleep. Restorative sleep. Not catchup sleep on Saturday morning after you worked all week and got 4-6 hours a night. Your body needs a consistent 7-9 quality hours of shuteye every single night. The body repairs itself and recovers while you snooze, and sleep may be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. I can hear many of you now,” I can’t sleep!” Well, find someone who can help you because it’s not only your skin that’s important here, but your overall health. I have a colleague in Boulder, Colorado whose entire practice is based on helping patients who suffer from insomnia, and she is very busy. It’s a big problem for many and there are many who can help you to sleep naturally, without popping medications. Lack of sleep will wreak havoc on your entire body; however, I will explain how good quality sleep is wonderful for your skin.
Skin makes new collagen when you sleep, which prevents sagging. With adequate sleep, your blood flow is increased to your skin as well as throughout your entire body. This is really important because our blood carries those great nutrients we’re ingesting. Without nutrients your skin becomes dull, and you don’t get those rosy cheeks anymore. Skimp on sleep and your skin will become lifeless, drab or ashen. Along these same lines, when you aren’t getting enough sleep your body is stressed and stress increases cortisol levels. The hormone cortisol is linked to so many issues. Elevated levels of cortisol cause increased oil production in your skin glands, which can lead to clogged pores and acne break outs.
A few suggestions to start with on your sleep improvement:
- Take a warm, relaxing bath with your favorite calming essential oils.
- Put your phone and other blue-light devices away at least an hour before bedtime.
- Pick out a good book. Yes, an actual book (not on a device) and read for a while.
- Do a candle meditation (I posted about this on Facebook and Instagram).
- Put on some relaxing music.
Lifestyle is a choice, and you will never regret making healthy lifestyle choices. These 5 lifestyle habits will definitely improve your skin and overall health.