Dr. Taz Bhatia, MD, is a board-certified physician and professor at Emory University who specializes in integrating mainstream medicine with holistic practices. Learn how to treat PCOS, endometriosis & more in her new mindbodygreen class, The Doctor’s Guide to Hormonal Imbalance.
There is no limit to what many of us would do to have perfect skin. Whether it's harsh lasers of chemical peels, we try to find way to a glowy, dewy, and unblemished complexion. But what if I told you that the elusive formula for wonderful skin can be found right in your refrigerator or pantry? Making skin sense may be as simple as understanding your skin type and the food and supplements it needs. The following are skin types and how to find the right regimen for each one.
Hydrated, smooth, and blemish-free, normal skin types are a gift. This type is often free of large pores, as well as oily and dehydrated areas. If you are lucky enough to have normal skin, your goal is to simply keep your skin that way by balancing moisture, maintaining collagen production, and minimizing inflammation.
Don't get too comfortable, though, even if you have this enviable skin type. Be sure to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet that will help your skin weather changes in hormones, aging, and stress. The key principles of an anti-inflammatory diet include lowering your intake of dairy and gluten, minimizing sugar, and adding in healthy fats (including omega-3 fats found in olive oil or coconut oil). Following these dietary principles will help your normal skin stay fresh and balanced for years to come.
For an added boost, taking an omega-3 supplement is beneficial. Additional fats, including evening primrose oil and borage oil, provide gamma linolenic acid, which repairs and supports the skin barrier. Aim for at least 2 grams of omega-3 fats daily and 500 mg of gamma linolenic acid.
Being slightly more work, combination skin is characterized by a mix of normal areas and areas that are oily or dehydrated. There may be a few visible pores as well. The goal with combination skin is to balance the pH of the skin, minimizing oil while also providing moisture. Many "pH balancing products" are best for this type of skin, but food plays a role as well. Add 3 to 4 ounces of apple cider vinegar, a pH balancer, to your daily diet, while increasing your intake of greens. Green smoothies and an abundance of green vegetables provide fiber, antioxidants, and chlorophyll, thereby helping balance pH and getting rid of unnecessary toxins by boosting oxygen. Try having just one green smoothie daily and you will notice almost immediate improvements in your skin.
Supplements that support combination skin follow the same principles as those for normal skin. Having a daily probiotic that is multistranded helps the digestive process, thereby improving pH balance. Taking chlorophyll or similar "green" supplements, including algae or spirulina, also promotes a better pH for combination skin.
Large pores, acne, and a slick T-zone are some of the challenges of oily skin. Oily skin may have its roots in the digestive system—so much so that older systems of medicine would describe acne or eczema as "heat-based" conditions that originate in the gut. Cleaning up your diet by avoiding the most difficult to digest food is essential for oily skin. Remove dairy and sugar completely, and get 40 grams of fiber per day from fruits and vegetables. Drink a few cups of dandelion tea, a liver cleanser, daily. Within three weeks, you will see a difference in your oily skin.
Probiotics play a role in oily skin as well since they support the digestive system and help balance gut bacteria. Take digestive enzymes after a meal along with milk thistle, an herb that detoxifies the liver, to improve your oily skin.
Prone to wrinkling and a victim of the elements, dry skin dehydrates easily and can be challenging as well. The goal with dry skin is to add collagen, moisture, and fat. A diet high in healthy fats and protein is important to help dry skin and thicken the skin barrier. Taking ½ teaspoon of ghee per day or 1 tablespoon of (unheated) olive oil can improve skin moisture. Staying hydrated by drinking at least 100 ounces of water per day is essential. Improving protein intake, the source of amino acids that builds collagen, prevents premature wrinkling. Choose high-quality protein from a variety of sources, such as meat, lentils, nuts, and seeds to ensure that your daily protein intake is at least 50 grams per day.
With dry skin, it may be helpful to add in the 2 grams of daily omega-3 fats, 1 gram of a collagen/hyaluronic supplement, and amino acid support to keep dry skin moist and wrinkle-free.
Following these diet rules for your skin type makes skin sense and makes you less dependent on a complicated skin care regimen.
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