Your skin is remarkable and you rely on it to perform so many functions for maintaining a healthy body.
It’s your largest organ, your protection and first line of defence against the many bacteria, organisms and bugs your body is exposed to every day, it regulates your body temperature, it maintains water balance, it acts as a reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D and provides you with the vital sense of touch. The condition of your skin, hair and nails can tell you so much about the state of your overall health, and not just your physical health - your emotional health too.
Society places a lot of value on the appearance of our skin – it’s the first thing people see and is often the basis for how first impressions are formed – whether we like it or not. Issues with skin are so outwardly visible to others that it’s no surprise that people who suffer with skin problems feel uncomfortable and embarrassed (even if it’s just what they perceive and not a result of other people’s reactions) and it can lead to low self-esteem, low self-confidence and can seriously impact on daily life.
As well as the emotional turmoil bad skin can cause, it can also show the first signs that all is not right inside, so observing your skin can be a useful way to ascertain information about both your general health and your wellbeing.
To help achieve healthy looking, glowing skin - start from the inside and follow these 5 tips to nourish your skin from within.
If you are on an emotional rollercoaster or going through a particularly stressful period – it’s likely that your skin will be too. Stress can cause skin issues to flare up regardless of what you may be prone to, be it acne, eczema, psoriasis etc. It can also disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut which can cause your skin to breakout in ways you won’t want it to.
Your body wont handle stress well if it is not properly nourished so ensure you follow a well- balanced diet (see more in tip 2) and take a probiotic to support the health of your gut and maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria.
Try and plan in some downtime every evening – switch off all devices a couple of hours before you go to bed, avoid caffeine after 6pm and instead make yourself a soothing cup of chamomile tea to help you relax before you hit the hay.
Give meditation a go – there are lots of apps such as headspace where you can schedule in a 10 minute session at the same time every evening and plenty of videos on YouTube that will guide you through a meditation at a length that suits you. If you can’t fit it in every evening, do it as often as you can and on the nights in between, take a few minutes before you go to sleep to do some deep breathing exercises – this is where you breath from the diaphragm rather than the chest and is a good way to relax and reduce anxiety. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your stomach, inhale, taking a deep breath from your abdomen and count to three, then slowly exhale while counting to three – repeat this for a few minutes.
Reducing your stress levels by partaking in the above will lead to a better night’s sleep (see tip 4) which is also crucial for the health of your skin.
Flawless looking, glowing skin has always been a tell-tale sign for health, but even with the strictest of beauty regimes, this effect is very hard to achieve when you don’t have a good diet and it is increasingly clear that what you eat can significantly affect the health and ageing of your skin.
Following a rainbow diet will do wonders for the condition of your skin – try incorporating the foods below into your diet on a regular basis to get the optimal levels of nutrients that are crucial for radiant skin.
- Eat 5 portions of anti-oxidant rich fruit and vegetables every day - such as blueberries (or any berries), kiwi, oranges, sweet potato, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, papaya and kale.
- Eat healthy fats – you’ll find these in oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocado. Omega 3 and omega 6 fats are especially important as they encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help inflammatory skin conditions. These types of fatty acids are found in oily fish and plant sources such as linseed, chia seeds, walnuts and rapeseed oil.
- Eat low GI carbs – such as beans, pulses, porridge and other slow releasing carbohydrates. High GI foods (pretty much any processed foods that are high in sugar) can lead to the production of insulin which can damage collagen and promote wrinkles.
- Stock up on foods rich in selenium, vitamin E and zinc. One of the best source of selenium are brazil nuts – try to add 5 or 6 a day to you diet regime. Foods rich in vitamin E include almonds, avocado and hazelnuts. Zinc rich food include wholegrains, lean red meat, nuts, seeds, fish and shellfish.
- If you struggle to incorporate the right foods on a daily basis to reach the right levels of nutrients, minerals and vitamins then consider taking a super greens drink every day to support your diet and increase your nutrients intake.
Remember that it takes 6 weeks for your skin to renew so when you implement a new diet regime expect to see it in your skin within that time-frame and not before.
Collagen is one of the skin’s building blocks and plays a big role in the strength, elasticity and hydration of your skin. As you age the levels of collagen your body produces declines, which leads to less supple skin and the promotion of wrinkles.
Collagen supplementation is the only way to absorb collagen directly, although there are foods you can consume which will help your body create more collagen. However, if you struggle to consume all the right proteins, vitamins and minerals on a daily basis that help contribute towards collagen production in your body, then you should invest in a collagen supplement to complement your diet. We’d recommend the Prime Fifty hair, skin and nails formula, which has been created for those in their 50’s and beyond and uses an advanced age specific multi-nutrient formulation comprised of the most essential vitamins, minerals and natural extracts. Lifestyle readers can get a 10% discount using code LIFESTYLE10 when you purchase a 3 month supply from the Prime Fifty website.
Lack of quality sleep and the quality of your skin can be a vicious circle, as when you are sleep deprived, your body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol - and elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased inflammation in the body which can impact on your skin. So it’s important to de-stress before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep and to avoid adding sleep deprivation to any stress related skin issues.
If your skin feels dry, it’s likely you are not drinking enough water. Try to drink 2 litres a day and if that’s unappealing try livening it up by adding a fruit teabag or some lemon and ice and eat lots of food with a high water content to increase the amount you consume daily.
Dehydrated skin will look older and duller whereas well hydrated skin will be smoother, more supple and look more dewy. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin loses its elasticity and this promotes wrinkles.
In addition to drinking plenty of H2O, there are lots of external applications that can help you to maintain the moisture levels in your skin: