How Your Skin Reflects You
Your skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it performs multiple, highly important roles for you like full body thermoregulation and preventing fluid loss. It protects you from the negative effects of the sun's radiation, and keeps you safe from harmful toxins. It takes care of you. It is your first line of defense. How you take care of the rest of your body has a huge impact on the health of your skin. What's going on in your life and the state of your health are all reflected in the mirror. Your habits, whether good or bad, will tell all. Your skin "functions like a mirror of what is going on inside the body," says Kimberly Snyder, author of The Beauty Detox Solution. If you rob your body of essential vitamins and nutrients, are dehydrated, and never exercise, your skin is one of the first places the effects will show up.
You Take the Good, You Take the Bad
Daily and long-term stressors in your life can play a role in the inflammatory process that can lead to acne flare-ups and signs of aging like collagen breakdown. If you practice a healthy lifestyle; eating properly, avoiding too much UV exposure and abstaining from bad habits like cigarettes, and you routinely practice a sound skin care regimen, chances are you'll have a nice, healthy glow. Doctors can really tell a lot by looking at and feeling your skin. It provides important clues to how the internal environment is functioning. Dry, inelastic skin may indicate not enough fats in the diet, not enough water intake, or a thyroid dysfunction. Early aging signs like saggy skin, dark spots, or excessive wrinkles are other indicators that point to too much sun exposure, dietary problems, too much stress, or other things.
Garbage in, garbage out. I think that has something to do with computer programming. But it definitely holds true here, too! Your skin requires good, nutritious support in order to function at its peak. According to Elizabeth Lipski, the author of Digestive Wellness, good digestion is directly related to healthy skin. When we don't eat well, it shows up. Snyder advises, "When our skin has to pour out so many toxins that it erupts into acne, that is a red flag." Certain foods can damage the skin by causing breakouts, inflammation, or redness. Sugary foods trigger a surge of insulin, which can contribute to acne. Digested sugar attaches to the collagen in skin, contributing to aging, acne, and other problems like rosacea. Processed fats and oils (corn, vegetable, canola) can cause inflammation which generates enzymes that damage the collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles and other problems.
Our liver eliminates toxins from the body, but if liver function isn't up to snuff, our bodies have to find another way to eject them. Your skin is the next line of defense. All those toxins slowly being released through the skin can show up as ugly skin problems, possibly before the serious side-effects like jaundice, abdominal pain, and nausea are noticed. If you're suffering from dermatitis, premature wrinkles, red itchy rashes, hives, acne, rosacea, eczema, brown liver spots, or painful rashes developing into ulcers and psoriasis, you may want to consider taking better care of your liver. This can include the obvious, cutting out or limiting alcohol consumption. You should also watch your intake of processed foods, which can really put a strain on the elimination process.
I'm not talking about the occasional, annoying bit of dry skin that comes in the winter when we are more exposed to the drying effects of indoor heating, or your habit of taking long, hot showers. Brittle, parched skin can be a sign of dehydration or other more serious health concerns. Many people do not drink enough water through the day (no, your diet soda doesn't count!) to stay properly hydrated. This can have a negative impact on many of your body's functions, including that of your skin. The National Institute of Medicine recommends that women get about nine cups of water per day. That's 2.7 liters! Moisture intake from fruits, vegetables, and soups does count. If you believe that your water intake is adequate, but you're still suffering from dry skin, have a discussion with your doctor about checking for hypothyroidism or diabetes, both of which can leach moisture from skin.
Most wrinkles are the result of aging, but premature wrinkles can be a tattle-tale that you've spent too much unprotected time in the sun, which speeds the aging process up by damaging skin cells. Cigarette smoke is also linked to an aged face. New research has found a surprising link between wrinkles and bone health in early-menopausal women. They may be a sign of osteoporosis. Research shows the worse the wrinkling, the greater the risk of lower bone density.
Patches of darker skin can be a result of too much sun exposure, and in some more severe cases, possibly even skin cancer symptoms. They can also be linked to some other serious problems. People with insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, or some cancers can develop these dark patches. If you're seeing them, it's definitely time to have a discussion with your doctor about looking a little deeper.