Health is a hot topic! Many of us are on a quest to look and feel our best and treat our bodies right so we can continue to look and feel good into the golden years. And what a noble cause it is. Health is not something that everyone is blessed with, some people struggle to find just the right diet or product to offer the relief they're searching for. The internet is flooded with information and products out there all promising great results and quite frankly, it's a bit daunting. So, I thought we'd bring it back to the basics. Of course, being that we are a skincare company, we're going to look at the basics for healthy skin from the inside out. I've compiled a list of what I think are the 4 most important things you can do for you skin that don't require buying more serums and creams!
It doesn't get much more basic than this, we all know how important water is. With over half of the body being comprised of water, it's no surprise that the skin depends on it for good health. How does water affect the skin? Great question! Just like outside of the body, water is used to cleanse inside as well. Blood courses through the body bringing nutrients and oxygen to the cells and carrying waste to the kidneys and liver to be taken out of the body. And blood is a honking 90% water! Without proper hydration the body is not able to cleanse itself as efficiently. When the inside of the body isn't clean it presents on the outside with symptoms like acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes, etc. But this is just the beginning of how water affects the skin.
When it comes to the beauty aspect of skin, hydration is incredibly important. Dehydrated skin lacks elasticity which causes wrinkles, fine lines and even scars. The skin can also look puffy with a lack of water, as it holds on to what water it does have. If properly hydrated, that water will circulate, and the body will not feel the need to reserve it. Finally, a lack of water can lead to TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) which not only causes the skin to look aged, but over time can damage the skin.
So how much water is the right amount to keep the body and skin properly hydrated? The best way to figure out your starting point is to divide your weight in half and drink that amount in ounces each day. For example, a 150-pound person would aim for 75 ounces of water a day. A caveat to that would be that if you exercise a lot or live in a particularly hot climate, you will need to increase the amount of water you are consuming. It is also important to mention that the type of water you drink is just as crucial to good health as the amount. Most tap water contains contaminants that we would avoid putting on our skin, so it is essential that we drink clean water so as to not pollute our insides as well.
So, we've talked about water in, now let's look at water out! Sweating can be great as it removes toxins and impurities from the skin. This is one of the ways that our body cleanses itself. As the largest organ of elimination, the skin is responsible for removing much of the waste from the body that is not processed through the liver or kidneys. Like I mentioned above, if the insides are clean, it shows on the outside.
Sweating in and of itself is a great tool, but we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about what we're doing to get a good sweat going! The two best tools for working up a good sweat are exercise and sauna. We all know that exercise comes with some great cardiovascular benefits, but did you know that sitting in a sauna can do the same things? That's right, and that cardiovascular activity is also great for healthy, glowing skin! When we're working up a sweat, we are improving circulation and bringing oxygen and nutrients all around the body. This goes directly back to water consumption, as water keeps the blood thin and easier for the body to move around. Ever notice how nice your skin looks after a good workout session? This is the reason for it, and it can have lasting benefits. Finally, exercise and sauna use have been known to increase the amount and health of your mitochondria, which is great news for those of us with aging skin.
It may go without saying, but it's a great idea to gently cleanse the skin after a good sweat sesh, in order to remove the impurities that have found their way out. This is especially true with the face, as those pores are more likely to become clogged which could undo some of the wonderful effect of your hard work!
It seems that whenever we're looking to improve any aspect of our health, the first thing we see is diet. Ugh. It's one of those things that we all know, yet it seems so hard to do. Whether we suffer with self-control, cravings or my least favorite, conflicting
information, it can be a challenge to get on the right track. Yet, here we are, talking about diet again. The reason it keeps coming up is that it is so very important. When relating our diet to our skin health, the suggestions are not much different. Let's break it down into what to avoid and what to eat.
What to avoid
Processed foods- if you can't pronounce the ingredients, they probably aren't good for you. If you wouldn't put it on your skin, don't put it in your mouth, and vice versa.
Sugar. Sugar wreaks havoc on just about every system in the body, and that is reflected on the outside.
Alcohol. I'm of the mindset “all things in moderation,” and I certainly apply this to alcohol. While I know this might be an unpopular option in the natural health world, I believe that some alcohol is okay. As long as you're not going overboard, beer and wine actually contain aspects that are beneficial to your health. I am only including this in the avoid list when done in excess.
Anything you have an allergy or intolerance to. Some people cannot digest dairy, while others struggle with gluten. If you have an intolerance to it, you can bet it's going to upset your whole system, and as a result, your skin.
What to Eat
Fatty fish. Fish that is high in EFA (essential fatty acids) are wonderful for healthy skin. These fats are often included in your skincare preparations in the form of oils because of their skin loving qualities.
Nuts & Seeds. Also high in EFA, nuts and seeds provide healthy fats as well as lots of vitamins and minerals that are great for the skin.
Cruciferous Vegetables. Of course, all vegetables are good to include in the diet, but cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, etc.) are especially helpful. High in the compound sulforaphane, these veggies provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin and are shown to increase stem cell regeneration!
Supplements! So many of the key ingredients found in our skincare creams and serums are things we can ingest as well. Some examples would be Vitamin A, C & E, probiotics, CoQ10, collagen and hyaluronic acid to name a few. All of these ingredients can benefit the skin from the inside as well as potentially help your overall health. This is not to say that topical application isn't beneficial, it is. When applied topically you get to choose where those goodies are going in the body, so they aren't used up somewhere else. Also, the skin has an incredible ability to absorb these things, so they are faster acting. With that said, it can't hurt to hit it from both the inside and out!
#4 Lymphatic Drainage
Our lymphatic system is one of the most magnificent parts of our bodies, yet it just doesn't get the attention it deserves. Just like our blood vessels carry nutrients and oxygen around our bodies, the lymphatic system picks up all the left-over debris and moves it out. Unfortunately, unlike our blood vessels, the lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump. It relies on us to keep things moving, and in a world where we spend more time sitting at our desk than ever before, we now have to be conscious about moving our lymph.
When our lymphatic system is working properly it picks up the waste in the body and moves it out via the liver, kidneys and yes, the skin. If the lymph is stagnant our bodies are retaining the waste and toxins that should be moving out. As a result, our skin will become dull and appear swollen.
This brings us to how to get the lymph pumping, and as you will see, we are about to come full circle. The lymph, like our blood needs plenty of water to keep it thin, allowing it to flow freely. Next, we need to move our bodies to encourage the pumping action of the lymphatic system. Any form of exercise, from walking/running to weightlifting, and everything in between will help with lymphatic drainage. If you're looking to really get it pumping, though, rebounding is your best bet. The action of bouncing affects the valves of the lymphatic system and can increase lymph flow by 15-30 times!
One of my favorite ways to encourage lymph flow is through dry brushing. When done regularly, it stimulates lymph flow and keeps it moving. I would recommend finding a tutorial before beginning dry brushing, however, as the lymph needs to be pushed along it's natural route for best results.
Finally, lymph responds very well to manual stimulation such as massage. Not all massage therapists are trained in lymphatic massage, but a good one is worth taking the time to find! This is probably the best way to really push the lymph, especially if you're just starting your journey. It is also the one you will most likely feel the effects of immediately. Side benefit, it is the most relaxing type of massage I have tried, and you can see the increased circulation immediately.
The thing that strikes me most about these amazing vessels we traverse this world in is how everything is interconnected. In an attempt to isolate the four most important ways to keep your skin healthy, I feel like they all linked right back to one another, as though they could all be listed as one. And that's how it is with our bodies and our health. The simple act of drinking more water does so much more than just hydrate the skin, it effects our blood and lymph flow, keeps us hydrated while we're exercising, and helps us digest those healthy foods we're adding to our diet. And the beauty of it is we're talking about skin health, but really, these steps will improve your overall health. So, here's to a healthy life and beautiful skin!