The beauty industry is saturated with expensive products that promise to reverse aging, improve skin quality and address acne. The problem is, beauty truly does come from within, as our skin is a mirror for our overall health. The skin conditions we experience are generally rooted in biological imbalances that no amount of serum can correct. While some topical applications can be helpful, in the holistic world there are three areas we look at in relation to skin health- hormones, digestion and liver function.
Talking about hormones in connection to skin health is nothing new, but the degree to which hormones are intertwined with our skin runs far deeper than we realize.
There are several types of hormones. We have sex hormones, stress hormones, thyroid hormones and hunger hormones among others. Even though hormones have different responsibilities in the body, they all have the power to influence each other. When there’s an imbalance with one hormone, communication lines throughout the entire body can be compromised. Hormone imbalances can show up in many ways, but the effect on the skin is well documented. Below are three ways to begin naturally balancing hormones, and start on the road to great skin.
Check your Skin Care Products for Harmful Chemicals
Ironically, many popular skin care products contain endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors are a class of chemicals that act on and as hormones in the body. They can alter our sex hormones and in turn cause premature symptoms of aging. Eliminating these chemicals will yield long term benefits for the skin. The top offenders to look out for are Parabens, phthalates, oxybenzone, sodium lauryl sulfate and benzophenones.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar increases cortisol. When cortisol production is constant, it contributes to the occurrence of fine lines. It does this by breaking down collagen which is the protein responsible for keeping skin firm. Cortisol has also been shown to increase oil production and can be an underlying cause of stubborn acne.
Ditch the Dairy
Dairy contains estrogen and progesterone. Ingesting hormones can disrupt the natural ratio of our own hormones, contributing to a broad spectrum of skin problems. In addition to this, dairy causes an inflammatory response which can show up in the digestive system and manifests through the skin.
Digestion and the health of our skin is profoundly linked. Our skin needs nutrients to rebuild, antioxidants to protect it and proteins to maintain its integrity.
We often hear you are what you eat, but that statement is incomplete- we are what we absorb and use. In order for the body to extract and utilize proteins, antioxidants and nutrients the digestive system needs to be working properly.
When digestion is backed up or the system is inflamed, nutrient absorption is negatively affected. Malabsorption is common and the skin becomes starved for nutrients. Without access to sufficient antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals- integrity of the skin declines, dryness increases and vibrancy is lost.
Reducing inflammatory foods such as dairy and sugar and increasing fiber has positive effects on digestion, and in turn contributes to radiant skin.
The liver is the key organ when it comes to skin health, and is often overlooked. The liver is responsible for many vital functions. Two of which are directly related to skin.
First, the liver metabolizes toxins (substances that negatively impact the body)- or in common language, it’s responsible for detoxification. We’re exposed to toxins through the food we eat, pollution, cleaning products, and internal processes. Like traffic on a highway during rush hour, the liver can become backed up when a buildup of toxins occurs. When this happens, toxins get either get pushed out through the skin or they get stored in fat cells and excrete a low-grade inflammatory response- both which have adverse effects on the skin.
Second, the liver not only metabolizes toxins but it metabolizes hormones. When the liver is overwhelmed, hormones cannot be excreted and they build up in the body, further exasperating hormonal imbalances that show up on the skin.
The Master Antioxidant – Glutathione
Glutathione is known as the master antioxidant, and while it supports the entire body it has an affinity for the liver. It helps by upregulating detox pathways, alleviating the “traffic jam” of toxins. When the liver is running smoothly, skin conditions subside and markers of premature aging decline.
While glutathione is a powerful antioxidant, in supplement form it is a highly unstable molecule. This means that often, glutathione gets broken down into its components by stomach acid before it can benefit the body. Lypo-Spheric Glutathione is wrapped in fat molecules that allow it to survive the stomach acid and absorb in the intestine- making sure it reaches the cells in its original form!
Take Away: Supporting the liver is the pinnacle of holistic skin care. Incorporating glutathione into your daily routine improves liver health and promotes healthy hormone levels. Addressing the liver and cutting back on inflammatory foods will help keep skin glowing from the inside out!
By: Lisa Kowalyk, B.Kin, CNP