Christine Craig, ND
Your skin is amazing. It protects your body against injury and infections, helps maintain your body temperature, prevents dehydration and even acts as a storehouse for nutrients and water.
Your skin is amazing. It protects your body against injury and infections, helps maintain your body temperature, prevents dehydration and even acts as a storehouse for nutrients and water. Not only is skin a sensory organ, but when exposed to sunlight, it has the ability to make vitamin D, an important vitamin that aids in the absorption of calcium. Last but not least, the skin is also an eliminative organ, helping to cleanse your body.
How to Have Healthy Skin
Besides that great personality of yours, your beauty really does originate from the inside out. Proper hydration and adequate nourishment are the key components to healthy skin. The body is primarily water, so if you are dehydrated your skin will show it. But just drinking water will not always keep you hydrated. The body requires certain minerals called electrolytes to carry the water into the cells of the body. The best way to get a proper balance of electrolytes is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Flavonoids are also required in maintaining healthy skin. Flavonoids are the group of plant pigments that give colour to fruits, flowers and some vegetables. Great dietary sources of flavonoids are citrus fruits, berries, onions, green tea, legumes, parsley and sage. Flavonoids slow down the destruction of collagen (the protein that structures skin and blood vessels), preventing and decreasing wrinkling, loss of skin elasticity, bruising and varicose veins. Simply put, foods such as fruits and beans slow down the aging process.
Avoid simple carbohydrates the hidden culprits of healthy skin that may be one of the underlying causes of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and scaly or dry skin. Simple carbohydrates are processed foods such as refined flour products, sugar, alcohol and soft drinks. The fibre has been removed from these foods during processing, which now causes the blood sugar to fluctuate and feed conditions such as Candida albicans. Candida, which is often responsible for acne, eczema and psoriasis, is caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract. It is so simple, yet so hard to swallow: A diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in processed foods gives you great skin.
Cleansing the Skin
Sweating and sloughing are great ways to cleanse the body through your skin. Ideally, sweating should be done through vigorous exercise on a regular basis. However, dry saunas and steam rooms are also great for sweating out toxins, especially for people with decreased vitality, who should avoid strenuous exercise until their energy has improved. Generally speaking, if you have a wet constitution, use a dry sauna; if you have a dry constitution, use a steam room. Symptoms of a wet constitution include sweating easily, high mucus production, loose bowels, feeling of heaviness and edema (swelling from water retention). Symptoms of a dry constitution include dry skin, thirstlessness, brittle hair, constipation and stiffness.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your sweat. Add a pinch of salt and a small amount of fresh vegetable or fruit juice to your drinking water during and after your sweat to provide your body with needed electrolytes. Build up the duration and frequency of your sweats slowly. If you experience headaches, dizziness or fatigue during or after your sweat, you are sweating too long and may not be drinking enough liquids. It is always wise to take a buddy in with you when you sweat in order to help you monitor when you have had enough. A cold shower after your sauna exercises your skin pores, toning and tightening them.
Sloughing, or removing that top layer of dead skin, also aids in the cleansing process and leaves you with skin that feels fresh and clean. Simply rub a natural sea sponge or bath brush with natural bristles (available at health food stores) in small circular motions over your dry skin, always working toward the heart. (For more information on skin brushing, see article on skin brushing, page 88.) When sloughing your skin, it is best to avoid the delicate skin on your face.
An excellent alternative to using a sea sponge is to try a salt glow. This hydrotherapy treatment increases elimination of toxins through sweating and removal of dead skin, and is excellent for people who are greatly debilitated or have chronic illness.
With your hands or a face towel, rub moistened coarse salt or Epsom salts back and forth on wet skin toward the heart in the following order: fingers, arms, toes, legs, chest, abdomen, back, hips and buttocks. Rub the skin until it becomes pink or as much as you can comfortably tolerate. Remove salt by having a cool but comfortable shower or bath. Be sure to rub the skin while rinsing off. Follow by drying with vigorous friction. Do not use the salt glow treatment if you have Cushing's disease or eczema.
Nourishing your skin is simple: sweat, slough and feed your body lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and water. The wise body demands these basic requirements, and when it does not receive them, complains loudly and visibly in the form of a poor complexion, wrinkles, easy bruising, flaccid skin and even chronic skin conditions such as skin cancer, eczema, psoriasis and acne. I am sorry to have to tell you, but there is no magic pill or cream that will give you great skin. Great skin is a reflection of the choices you have made.
Getting Under Your Skin
The top layer of skin, the epidermis, is the layer of skin you can see and touch on your body. This layer is continually being sloughed off every 45 to 75 days. The epidermis contains both keratin and melanin. The second layer of skin is called the dermis. It contains the sweat glands and small blood vessels called capillaries. Keratin is what makes the nails, hair and skin tough and resilient while melanin is a pigment, governed by the sun, that gives colour to the skin, moles, freckles and hair. Subcutaneous tissue, primarily made up of fat, is the layer of tissue that sits on top of your muscles and just underneath your skin.