Immaculate Skin at Any Age
An Integrative Approach
Understanding the underlying bodily functions that affect the skin’s condition is paramount to a radiant complexion (and not merely the application of skin care products).
Dr. Sly Nedic lists 4 key steps towards healthy skin
The skin care industry, worth billions, intend to focus on the skin as an isolated organ that primarily needs an application of skin products topically to improve the condition. Yet, to improve the skin appearance, we need to recognise that what happens on the inside the body truly reflects what happens on the skin (no matter how old we are). Aging skin is a more biological than chronological process, which is clearly demonstrated in more and more cases of premature skin aging amongst the younger generation – despite meticulously using sunblock. Therefore, a holistic approach combined with an understanding of the underlying bodily functions that can affect skin condition are prerequisite for getting an immaculate skin. Usually, this approach will require an integrative and functional medicine specialist to do an assessment, but one can always start with few initial steps.
1.Awareness of the amount of sugar intake and possible underlying Insulin resistance (IR)
High sugar intake or elevated blood sugar can cause increased glycation and creation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Collagen – a principal component that keeps skin firm and youthful – is especially prone to glycation-induced damage. AGEs cause adhering of collagen fibers to each other that leads to thinner skin with decreased elasticity, wrinkling and sagging. Additionally, insulin resistance can cause some dramatic changes on the skin such as adult onset acne, excessive pigmentation on the neck area (acanthosis nigricans), skin tags, increased facial hair, dull and rough skin (even in younger individuals), submental fat deposition (double chin), etc. Decreased sugar and excessive carbohydrate intake is a first step to decrease these malicious AGEs, although one needs to have an integrative check-up to establish a presence of IR to reverse it.
2.Identifying and combating environmental toxicity
On average, women apply 9 products each morning that contain at least 14 toxic ingredients (126 chemicals) which all interfere with body and skin detoxification, obstructs the beta estrogen receptors that are necessary for keeping skin youthful, increases production of free radicals that damage elastin and collagen, and up-regulates inflammation that can cause premature ageing and melasma. Moreover, low-grade inflammation can damage cellular functions affecting skin rejuvenation and turnover.Now, while it’s difficult to control the 85 000 identified chemicals that can damage one’s body, we should be at least adamantly try to use phthalates and parabens free cosmetics, organic shampoos and body creams, organic food that does not contain harmful pesticides and herbicides, purified water and to stop smoking. Additionally, genetic tests to check the underlying cause of insufficient detoxification capacity may be helpful, as well as checking the amount of heavy metals that interfere with detoxification ability.
3.Overcoming nutritional depletions and ensuring an adequate diet for healthy skin
Nutritional depletion is a fundamental cause of many insufficient bodily functions, including skin health. Zinc, for example, assists the enzymes necessary for collagen production and cell membranes. It has anti-inflammatory effects, protects against UV radiation and improves wound healing. Studies have shown that individuals suffering from severe acne have much lower Zinc than healthy individuals. Diet high in Zinc such as pumpkin seeds, free range meat, and shellfish should be used as a first step, but establishing deficiencies and correcting it is essential for long-term healthy looking skin. However, some minerals are often not even considered as being so essential for skin health, such as sulfur. In one study, animals who were fed a poor sulfur diet produced less collagen than usual – proving how a diet with low sulfur can contribute to a reduction in collagen and causing the skin to become less firm. Sulfur is also necessary for the synthesis of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the body that not only prevents aging caused by free radicals but also supports the detoxification of xenoestrogens. So whenever one has only egg-white omelettes, one should think about the missing sulfur from the egg yolk, and consequences to its depletion thereof.
Moreover, since free radicals are always produced in our bodies, we must have a constant supply of antioxidant nutrients to keep our skin cells healthy and to facilitate cell repair. These are vitamin C, vitamin A, high-potency tocopherols, bioflavonoids, alpha-lipoic acid, carotenoids, DMAE coenzyme Q-10. Essentially nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day of “rainbow color” should provide enough antioxidants and phytonutrients to support skin detoxification.
4. Identify hormonal influences
Skin cell metabolism is hugely influenced by the hormones, especially estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, growth hormone testosterone and cortisol. They are essential for intrinsic aging. Women lose as much as 30% of estrogen in her first five menopausal years, which ultimately causes a rapid loss of collagen, a decrease in skin renewal, diminished protection from photoaging, wound healing, etc. Additionally, younger girls could also have similar symptoms of premature aging due to the overwhelming presence of xenoestrogens and the extensive use of birth control pill, which saturate receptors needed to be stimulated by natural estrogen. Results are dull, rough, even wrinkled prematurely aged skin. One should take the first step to keep these xenoestrogens at bay, opt for healthier contraception and ask for a ‘hormone check-up’, and perhaps get bioidentical hormone replacement if menopausal. Meanwhile, excessive testosterone often present in PCOS makes skin blotchy, oily and acne prone – and cannot be addressed with topical products but rather with treating the cause of the problem. Altered cortisol due to overwhelming stress can cause collagen damage and skin detoxification issues, so adopting an anti-stress regime can benefit the skin in this case, and not opting for another ‘miracle in the jar’.
Take home message
Healthy looking skin also requires understanding, recognising and treating many bodily dysfunctions and equilibrium changes such as gut issues, sleeping problems, immune problems, overproduction of inflammation and free radicals due to excessive exercise (example; marathon runners) etc. Most importantly, however, it requires a personalised medical approach tailored to each patient.