The skin is the largest organ in the body, but a body organ nonetheless, like the heart, eyes, nose, teeth etc.
It’s just the only external organ of the body and as such is encumbered with the responsibility of fulfilling the aesthetic requirements for the body.
Hence it easy for us to get carried away with a lot of topical and superficial activities, to try to improve the quality of the skin, without paying equal attention to the internal activities and processes that can equally nourish and prolong the skin health.
Imagine if you do everything superfically that you can, to beautify your eyes for instance, like fixing your lashes, wearing fancy contact lenses, etc, but neglect to eat foods rich in vitamin A for good eyesight, and instead carry on with unwholesome practices that will hurt your eyes like constantly rubbing them, constantly exposing them to bright sunlight, and perhaps not going to see an optician when you have issues with your eyes, instead choosing to self medicate..
You get the idea now..
Our skin needs a holistic approach to ensure its wellbeing too. Topical treatments alone without proper care or attention to more internal processes will not be a sustainable way to achieve healthy skin.
Here are some lifestyle changes we can adopt to enhance our skin health:
This can definitely not be over emphasized. As humans, apart from Vitamin D which we majorly source from UV rays, all other nutrients required for our health, well being and proper functioning of our organs have to be obtained by proper ingestion and digestion of food.
So eating the right kinds of foods, in the right proportions is very important to ensuring that our skin is well nourished.
Even though the upper most layer of our skin is covered with dead skin cells, there are nerve endings, veins, blood vessels and capillaries in the lower layers of the skin that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the dermal layer of the skin. The Dermal layer of the skin contains the collagen and elastin fires and there are other cells in the epidermis that need this supply of nutrients and oxygen to function effectively.
So what types of food are most beneficial to the skin:
Fresh fruits and vegetables: These are rich in Vitamin C this is a great macro nutrient needed in the skin for a number of reasons some of which include synthesis of collagen fibres, antioxidant activity and even helps to brighten the skin.
Therefore a lack of vitamin C in our food, will interfere with major processes of the skin, including differentiation of the cells , skin strength and resilience and ability to regenerate new skin cells.
Topical application of Vitamin C alone will not be sufficient to meet the enormous demand for Vitamin C needed to carry out the normal skin functions effectively, for so many reasons including instability of topical Vitamin C, the challenge of permeating the upper dead layer of the skin and effective conversion and bio availability of the Vitamin C.
Omega 3 fatty acids : Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, help provide the skin with polyunsaturated fatty acids, which the skin is not able to synthesise on its own.
These food groups are useful for skin because they offer protection against UV radiation and damage as well as provide anti- inflammatory properties that can help reduce skin inflammation and hence, common skin diseases that result due to skin inflammation
Carotene and lycophene: These are a group of carotenoids that are great for the skin mostly in terms in terms of providing UV protection to the skin.
Study indicates that increase in lycopene significantly reduces sun damage, reduce inflammation and boost anti- oxidant protection of the skin.
However, it has been shown that carotenoids from ingestible products contribute more to the skin compared to topical application
Of course, to aid active transportation of macro and micro nutrients in the body, as well as effectively remove waste products from the body , you need to be well hydrated and that plays an essential role in the way the skin looks. Dehydrations can lead to lack of moisture and shrivelling of individual skin cells, rendering them ineffective in carrying out their basic cellular activities.
As important as diet is to skin health, in the right dosages, there is one food group that does not offer any benefit at all, but instead can be detrimental to the health of the skin, and that is sugar.
Refined sugar has the ability to form a group of chemicals known as Advanced Glycation End products, which attach themselves to collagen and elastin molecules in the dermis, weakening the skin structure and elasticity therefore leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles in the skin as well as increase inflammation.
Sleep is an important biological process, which we most often take for granted.
“Having healthy skin goes hand-in-hand with having a healthy mind and body. ”
Sleep is important for a variety of reasons including stress relief and skin regeneration.
When we sleep, we rest our bodies and the temporary relief of stress can go a long way in reducing stress, and stress can be trigger for inflammation which can lead to inflammatory skin conditions.
Also our skin has natural biological clock that it follows, constant disruptions in sleep patterns can upset this rhythm and that can impact on the regenerative abilities of the skin. (I will do a post on this soon).
Its important to get the required amount of sleep daily which is usually between 7- 9 hours of sleep daily and to maintain a daily sleep routine.
Any activity that increases blood flow and circulation in the body will also improve the quality of the skin, because increase in blood flow can help keep the skin healthy and vibrant by providing oxygen and nutrients to the skin as well as carrying away toxic waste materials, including free radicals from the skin.
Contrary to claims , exercise does not neutralise toxins in the the skin but by increasing blood flow helps flush out cellular debris out of the system.
Regular exercise can also help to reduce stress, which has negative effects on the skin appearance.
Finally, exercise can help with issues like cellulite which can help improve the overall appearance well being.
So there, making adequate adjustments to accommodate these changes in our lifestyle, combined with topical application of well formulated skincare products will definitely make a difference in the physical appearance of or skin, while improving our overall well being.