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Nutrition for Great Skin & Hair

What Is It?

Great skin is one of the earmarks of good looks that we can all agree on. A youthful, blemish-free complexion is something you notice about a person. People care enough about the appearance of their skin to make skin care a multi-million dollar industry. And there is a dizzying array of products you can buy to balance, moisturize, deep clean, tone, or exfoliate your skin. If that isn’t enough, you can hire a specially training aesthetician to squeeze, steam, apply masks and fruit acid peels.

People will go to great lengths for great skin. But set all the topical treatments aside and one fundamental truth remains... great skin is built from the inside out. In other words, great skin is the outward reflection of a healthy internal body.

Before a person can begin to support and care for their skin, they should understand what their skin does for them and how it functions in the body. The skin is our body’s front line of defense. It shields us from millions of foreign particles in the environment that can cause us harm. The acid mantel of the skin inhibits the growth of disease-causing bacteria, preventing germs from getting inside. The skin is the largest organ in the body that, through regular evaporation and perspiration, can eliminate up to 2 pounds of metabolic waste a day.

Risk Factors

If we are having problems with our skin, there can be many potential irritants, internal and external.

  • External: Smog, other environmental pollutants and overexposure to the sun all stress the skin causing premature aging. The sun is the primary cause of wrinkles and of 90% of skin cancers.
  • Internal: What we put in our bodies feeds the skin for better or worse.
  • Soda, caffeine, alcohol and red meat all dry the skin out.
  • Saturated fats, hydrogenated oils (margarine) and junk foods generate free radicals that reduce the elasticity of the skin. Margarine, hydrogenated oils (found in a lot of pre-packaged baked goods, cookies, potato chips and other junk foods) interfere with favorable prostaglandins that keep the skin healthy.
  • Smoking ages the skin faster than anything else. Even if you don’t smoke, try to avoid smoky places and ask your smoking friends not to smoke around you. The hundreds of chemicals in cigarettes enter the blood and wind up in the skin as the body tries to eliminate them.

Dietary Considerations

The kinds of foods we eat can have a powerful effect on the health and look of our skin. Here are the dos and the don’ts of eating for great skin.

  • Water – Drinking enough is probably the single most important factor. In general a minimum of 2 quarts of water a day is adequate but this can vary depending on diet and climate. The typical American diet, low in water containing foods, high in refined foods and fats requires extra water to keep the eliminative channels working well. Drink more water in hot, dry weather, less in cold, damp climates. It’s best to drink water at room temperature 20 minutes before meals or 1 hour after. If you have constipation, you need to increase water intake.

The more fruits and vegetables we eat, the better our skin will be. They are high in water and also a great source of fiber. All fruits will help clear acid wastes from the body that can hurt the skin. Avocado is especially good for skin elasticity.

To maximize its cleansing properties have fruit for breakfast when the body is in its cleansing cycle.

  • Getting the right kinds of oils into our bodies is very important. Avocados are a great source of oil. Olive oil is also good for our skin. We can take it internally and externally. If someone has dandruff, an olive oil wrap will help moisturize the scalp. To apply the wrap, shampoo hair and leave slightly wet, massage cold pressed olive oil into scalp, wrap with a towel overnight, shampoo in the morning.
  • Fried fats and hydrogenated oils found in a lot of pre-packaged fast foods are especially bad for the skin. These foods are loaded with oxidized oils that put a lot of destructive free radicals into the body. Hydrogenated oils found in chips, cookies and many pre-packaged foods interfere with good prostaglandins that keep the skin healthy. Fried foods, potato chips, french fries, etc. contain oils that have been chemically altered by high heat and are not properly metabolized by the body. They congest the liver and generate free radical damage to the skin and elsewhere. Those free radicals undermine the integrity of the collagen that keeps our skin soft and smooth. Free radicals break down collagen, making it less elastic and less able to hold moisture.

In a nutshell, if you want healthy skin, avoid refined, fatty, fried foods, red meat, pasteurized dairy products, white flour, sugar, sodas, alcohol, and caffeine. And eliminate foods that contain hydrogenated oils. Increase vegetable protein foods: beans, soy products, whole grains, mineral rich foods like leafy greens, sea vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage), sesame and sunflower seeds. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Both are high in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Modifications for Specific Skin Problems

Acne

In teenagers, as sex glands are developing, the body has to decide how to ration limited supplies of essential fatty acids and zinc – consequences of a junk food diet. Given a choice of supporting developing sexual organs or the skin, the body supports the developing organs and the skin suffers. Acne is not an inevitable part of growing up. The typical teenage junk food diet makes it seem so. Junk food diets, high in saturated fats and hydrogenated oils can congest the liver, reducing its blood cleansing ability. Sugar and refined carbohydrates, very common in teens and many grown-ups diets, feed unfriendly bacteria that can aggravate acne. Because these foods are empty calories, they draw on the body’s stores of the nutrients they require to be metabolized and rob the skin of the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.

A lot of kids and grown-ups are tempted to take antibiotics or the drug “accutane” for their skin. Antibiotics can make symptoms better temporarily, but because they damage friendly bacteria in the intestines, they worsen the condition in the long run. When antibiotics destroy friendly bacteria, pathogenic organisms begin to proliferate, releasing toxins into the intestines, the blood and the skin.

Acne can be caused by hormonal imbalances, a lack of nutrients or internal toxicity. Some of the foods someone should avoid if they’ve got acne include: red meat, white flour, sugar, soft drinks, chocolate, caffeine, fried foods, dairy products. Stay away from sugar, which feeds unfriendly bacteria that negatively affect the skin and liver. Avoid foods that clog the liver - fried foods, saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, and alcohol.

Combination skin (part dry, part oily) can result from eating trans-fatty acids like margarine, fried and processed foods. Eliminate them and add essential fatty acids, flaxseed oil, or EPO, magnesium and zinc.

Eczema often involves food sensitivities or allergies - especially to wheat or dairy, but other foods can be a problem. (see Allergies in self-help). Supplements that can help eczema include vitamin A, C, E, B complex, zinc, flaxseed oil and digestive enzymes.

Dandruff is often a result of overly active sebaceous glands that clog the pores and cause flaking. If a person has stubborn dandruff that doesn’t respond to a selenium sulfide shampoo like Selsun Blue:

  • Make sure the diet is low in sugar, starches and animal fats.
  • Avoid dairy products, chocolate, nuts and shellfish - dandruff can be an allergic reaction to these foods.
  • Add sulfur rich foods - onions, eggs and fish.
  • Take B complex with extra PABA and niacin for better circulation to the scalp.
  • Add tea tree oil to a hair rinse or use tea tree oil shampoo.

    These nutrients should help correct dandruff from the inside out: Vitamins A, B6, C, E, zinc, selenium and essential fatty acids.

Dry and Brittle Hair

At Rose Nutrition, we run analysis of hair samples to reveal imbalances in a person’s body. But if your hair is dry, brittle, damaged and dull, you don’t need high-tech analysis to tell you something’s wrong. The answer isn’t to spend hundreds of dollars on treatments that just hide the problem. Hair problems are never isolated conditions, they are the result of imbalances in the body and often are the first sign that something’s not right. If you want to improve your hair naturally:

  • Avoid the foods that damage it: saturated fats, sugars, refined foods, alcohol and caffeine.
  • Feed your hair the vitamins, minerals and protein it needs (hair consists of protein layers called keratin). Take a low-fat protein drink in the morning. Emphasize vegetable proteins – raw nuts and seeds, sprouts, beans, soy. Other hair nourishing foods include carrots, green peppers, lettuces, bananas, strawberries, apples, peas, onions, eggs, and cucumbers. Wheat germ, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast and sesame seeds are especially good.
  • B vitamins are important with an emphasis on PABA (1000 mg), biotin (600 mcg), pantothenic acid (1000 mg), folic acid (1000 mcg)
  • A good mineral supplement with 3 mg of boron will help with mineral absorption. Especially important are copper, selenium, zinc, silica (a trace mineral which helps strengthen hair and nails)
  • Stress can be destructive. Try relaxation techniques like Yoga and meditation.
  • Regular exercise is important to improve circulation and relieve stress.

Hair Loss

Hair loss in women can be a result of thyroid insufficiency. Check with an MD to rule this out. In men, hair loss is often a result of male hormone imbalance. In either case, nutrition alone will not solve the problem. However, getting enough nutrients, avoiding sugar, improving circulation and protein metabolism can slow its progress.

Suggested Supplementation

Since nutritional deficiencies can be the cause of a lot of skin problems, supplementation is very important.

Vitamin C, internally and applied topically in sun lotions is one of the most protective nutrients for the skin. It inhibits radiation damage when applied topically and slows development of wrinkles and premature aging.

Antioxidants: Vitamins C, A, E, zinc, selenium, taurine, and NAC

  • Combinations are much more protective than using only one or two.
  • Especially good if you spend a lot of time in the sun
  • Good for everyone because of potential free radical damage.
  • Zinc is especially important for skin health.

Needed for the production of healthy, new skin cells

  • Seafood, oysters, nuts and seeds are about the only good food sources
  • Many studies have shown that 95% of 50 year old Americans are deficient

    Essential fatty acids

  • Flaxseed oil and olive oil are especially good because they have anti-inflammatory properties
  • EPA found in fish oils and cold water fish - salmon, sardines, mackerel and GLA from EPO or borage oil lubricate the skin and keep it soft and smooth.
    * One Caveat - if you are taking significant amounts of flax oil, EPA or GLA, be careful not to spend too much time in the sun. All these oils are delicate and they can make your skin sensitive to sunlight.

Water - We should classify water as a supplement because a lot of people aren’t getting enough. 6 to 8 glasses of purified water a day keeps the body hydrated so it can flush acid toxins out.

 

The nutritional suggestions in this material are not offered to treat, mitigate or cure disease, and should not be used as a substitute for sound medical advice. This information is designed to be used in conjunction with the services of a trained, licensed healthcare practitioner.

 
     
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