10 “Don’ts” For Skin Health

I came across a lot of information on things to avoid too ensure healthy skin. So much so that I figured it would make a good post in and of itself. Ideally, problem skin should be attacked from both angles – removing the bad foods and behaviours and adding in the good ones.

Vitamins A, B, C, and E are all necessary for healthy skin as are zinc, selenium and silicon. But adding these nutrients won’t do much good if you’re trying to pile them on top of garbage. Healing your skin from the inside out requires as much avoiding of harmful elements as it does incorporating helpful ones.

What follows is a list of some things you want to avoid to maintain vibrant and healthy skin.

Get the Right Sun Exposure – I don’t want to say “limit sun exposure”, because I’m sure most of us aren’t getting enough. Instead I’ll say “be careful about sun exposure”. The ideal would be to get small bursts of sun throughout the day – never long enough to burn, but enough to produce some vitamin D (say 20 minutes at a time or so). Damage from the sun can be counteracted by ample antioxidant consumption, so if you find you’re burning too easily, try a change in your diet.

Avoid Food Intolerances
– Dark circles under the eyes are recognized in the holistic health world as a symptom of food intolerances. Food allergy is also the major cause of eczema and contact dermititis has been found to completely disappear when food intolerances are identified and avoided. Elimination or avoidance of food intolerances will reduce unnecessary stress on the immune system while stopping the release of histamine to the skin.

Avoid Sugar – Sugar consumption causes premature aging in the form of free radical damage to the skin cells. Fluctuating blood sugar also leads to insulin resistance in the cells and consequent high blood sugar levels. A study in the Indian Journal of Dermatology found glucose levels in the skin to be higher in those with acne, implicating high blood sugar as a possible cause.

Avoid Trans Fats and Fried Foods – Fried foods are a source of damaged, fractionated oils that lead to free radical damage, which inevitably shows up in the skin. They can also trap oil and bacteria beneath the skin, causing acne and other skin ailments. Trans fats have been implicated in causing acne by Naturopathic Doctor Michael T. Murray. Trans fats from hydrogenated oils including vegetable shortening, margarines and commercial fryer oils should be eliminated. Murray also recommends avoiding dairy products to stem acne problems, stating “milk consumption should be limited due to its high hormone content in addition to its trans-fatty acid content,” in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Find Ideal Weight – “Yo-yo dieting”, resulting in rapid weight loss and gain can cause wrinkles and can lead to sagging skin. Finding an ideal, natural diet that you can stick to for life is a better approach. Eating your ideal foods will make you gravitate towards your ideal weight and your skin will look it’s best.

Avoid Toxic Skin-Care Products – Lotions, washes, and creams are, at best, temporary solutions to skin problems and at worst are loaded with toxic material that will be absorbed through the skin. Some skin product ingredients, like sodium lauryl sulphate, actually cause dry skin and rashes in sensitive individuals. Many skin problems are caused by nutritional deficiencies or imbalances which topical treatments can’t solve, anyway. Remedy nutritional deficiencies by altering the diet to include specific nutrients before spending an unnecessary fortune on expensive skin care products.

Get the Right Sunscreen – The vast majority of sunscreens on the market are loaded with toxic chemicals that will damage skin in the long run. Check the Environmental Working Group‘s website Skin Deep to find a list of brands rated on both effectiveness and toxicity.

Don’t Neglect Your Thyroid – Dry, scaly, rough skin is a sign of hypothyroidism. Other cosmetic symptoms include dry, brittle hair, hair loss, overweight with difficulty losing weight and thin brittle nails. If you suspect you’re hypothyroid, see your health care practitioner.

Avoid Acidifying Foods – Foods that leave an acidic ash once they’ve been digested raise the pH of the body tissues which fosters the development of acne, according to the authors of Smart Medicine For Healthier Living. Alcohol, sodas, chocolate, fried foods and refined sugar are all highly acidifying and should be avoided to clear the skin.

Don’t Shun the Fat – Although most nutrition “experts” are still on the “fat is bad” band wagon, cell walls need fats for their structure. Avoiding trans fats and processed vegetable oils is a must, but fish oils and medium chain fats from sources like coconut oil are both vital for healthy skin. Coconut oil is also good for the thyroid.

The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto.