Like your heart or liver, skin is an organ.  It has several vital functions as part of your body.  Here are five fascinating facts about skin.

  • Skin is the body’s largest organ, covering 18.5 +/- square feet in area
  • Skin makes up 16% of our body weight
  • Skin plays an important role in regulating body temperature
  • Skin gets its color from a pigment called melanin.  Everyone has the same amount of cells that produce melanin, which is made in the outer layer of the skin called the epidermis; but not everyone produces the same amount.

  • Skin is an important organ for detoxification, as are the liver, lymphatic system, kidneys, and digestive system

 

 

To support healthy skin from the inside out focus on eating foods high in antioxidants and foods that support liver function.

Antioxidants help repair damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are found in the environment, and they’re also produced naturally in your body.  

Supporting liver function makes the detoxification system of your body more efficient.

 

Why you need antioxidant rich foods

Antioxidants help prevent or stop cell damage caused by free radicals.

Your body creates free radicals to help fend off viruses and microbes, but if you have too many, they can cause serious damage and contribute to certain cancers and heart disease. You also get hit with free radicals daily from things like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and alcohol.

Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate.

Here are some of the more familiar antioxidants

  • flavanols (found in chocolate),
  • resveratrol (found in wine), and
  • lycopene (found in tomatoes).
  • vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E
  • catechins (green tea, cocoa, berries)

You should eat a wide variety of colors! Make it a goal to eat a rainbow of color every day.  salad

It is always best to eat food so you get antioxidants in balance (vs taking a supplement)

If you choose to supplement choose a supplement sourced from whole foods.  Your body is designed to get nutrients from food, and knows the difference if presented with a synthetic version.

There are some specific nutrients that improve skin health.

Zinc is a required nutrient for >100 enzymatic reactions in body. It also reduces production of free radicals, and safeguards the fats in skin against damage from sun.

Foods containing zinc include pumpkin seeds, wild caught seafood, meat and cacao.

Copper plays a role in collagen synthesis. Signs of low copper levels are brittle, wrinkled skin, slower wound healing, higher inflammation and premature graying.

Foods containing copper: seaweed, nuts, cacao, red wine, organ meats, legumes .

Vitamin A is required to produce retinol.  Retinol is believed to affect skin aging and prevent acne.

Good food sources for Vitamin A include organ meats, egg yolk, bright orange vegetables (contain beta-carotene, from which the body makes vitamin A) and fish liver oil.

Vitamin C is used to produce collagen, important for skin healing and protects against free radical damage.

Foods high in vitamin C: citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, kiwis, goji, acerola and acai

Vitamin D is fat soluble and produced iwhen your skin is exposed to sunlight from cholesterol.

Best food sources: oily fish, full cream dairy products.  Older folks and those with darker skin are often deficient so often require supplementation.

Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant, and protects the skin from free radical and sun damage. Sebum is excreted and high in vitamin E, this helps moisturize and protect skin.

Food sources for vitamin E:  nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish and olive oil.

I added Juice Plus+ to my diet several years ago.  The variety of fruits and vegetables in Juice Plus assures I am getting a wide variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals that support my skin and general health.

Here is a short video explaining another benefit of eating Juice Plus for your skin:

 

 

Why eat to support your liver

  • The liver is the primary organ for detoxification
  • Overeating,  processed or fried foods, exposure to environmental pollutants or stress all tax the liver
  • Incorporate foods every day that support the liver

 

Our body is continually producing free radicals and we are exposed to toxins in the environment every day.  Don’t wait until you are experiencing detrimental health effects to include the following 14 whole foods in your daily menu.

 

  1. Garlic:  Just a small amount of this pungent white bulb has the ability to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
  2. Grapefruit:  High in both vitamin C and antioxidants, grapefruit increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. A small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice will help boost production of the liver detoxification enzymes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
  3. Beets and Carrots:  Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene; eating beets and carrots can help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
  4. Green Tea:  This liver-loving beverage is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function. Green tea is not only delicious, it’s also a great way to improve your overall diet. Learn more about the benefits of green tea.
  5. Leafy Green Vegetables:  One of our most powerful allies in cleansing the liver, leafy greens can be eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. Extremely high in plant chlorophylls, greens suck up environmental toxins from the blood stream. With their distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver.  Try incorporating leafy greens such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory into your diet. This will help increase the creation and flow of bile, the substance that removes waste from the organs and blood.
  6. Avocados:  This nutrient-dense super-food helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
  7. Apples:  High in pectin, apples hold the chemical constituents necessary for the body to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. This, in turn, makes it easier for the liver to handle the toxic load during the cleansing process.
  8. Olive Oil:  Cold-pressed organic oils such as olive, hemp and flax-seed are great for the liver, when used in moderation. They help the body by providing a lipid base that can suck up harmful toxins in the body. In this way, it takes some of the burden off the liver in terms of the toxic overload many of us suffer from.
  9. Alternative Grains:  It’s not only that you need alternative grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat in your diet, it’s that if you’ve got wheat, flour, or other whole grains in your diet, it’s time to make changes. Your liver is your body’s filter for toxins, and grains that contain gluten are full of them. A study last year found that persons who experienced gluten sensitivities also had abnormal liver enzyme test results, and that’s just one of many.
  10. Cruciferous Vegetables:  Eating broccoli and cauliflower will increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, adding to enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes help flush out carcinogens, and other toxins, out of our body which may significantly lower risks associated with cancer.
  11. Lemons & Limes:  These citrus fruits contain very high amounts of vitamin C, which aids the body in synthesizing toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning helps stimulate the liver.
  12. Walnuts:  Holding high amounts of the amino acid arginine, walnuts aid the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal liver cleansing actions. Make sure you chew the nuts well (until they are liquefied) before swallowing.
  13. Cabbage:  Much like broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps stimulate the activation of two crucial liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins. Try eating more kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup and sauerkraut.
  14. Turmeric:  The liver’s favorite spice. Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness into your next lentil stew or veggie dish for an instant liver pick-me-up. Turmeric helps boost liver detox, by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens.

(From http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/  by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM)


I have many people ask me about sun exposure and skin health.  There are several things to consider.

Everyone needs some sun exposure to their skin to make vitamin D.  How much sun exposure needed varies due to several factors such as how dark is your skin (darker skinned people need MORE sun to make vitamin D than fair skinned people), where you live (altitude intensifies the effect the sun has on skin), how much skin is exposed, time of day and length of exposure.

Because too much sun is damaging to the skin getting the amount you need can be a difficult balance.

Using sunscreen to block all exposure is not ideal either.  And unfortunately some sunscreens, even when used correctly,  contain toxic ingredients.  Here is an article from Dr. Josh Axe on sunscreens: The Dangers of Conventional Sunscreens

Here is a handout with a recipe for non-toxic homemade sunscreen, using essential oils.  On the flip side is a place to note which foods promote healthy skin.  Keep this handy on your next trip to the grocery store so you will make better choices!  healthy-eating-4-healthy-skin


Karen Hunter is a certified health coach. She supports individuals who are ready to learn how food is medicine and powerful for restoring health.
She focuses on the foundational aspects of health and wellness: whole food nutrition, safe movement, restorative sleep, stress management and having fun.

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