When most of us think of healthy looking skin, we often wonder where we can find the latest and greatest lotion, cream or cosmetic to get it. But the real key to getting a younger, healthier, glow is to focus on removing toxins from the body -- and to feed our skin cells from the inside out.
Organs such as the kidney, liver and intestinal tract are critical in helping skin flourish. They require optimal levels of nutrients that are often quickly depleted because of the standard diet and lifestyle.
And while many nutrients are required to maintain optimal skin health, there are seven everyone who wants to retain a healthy glow should dig into.
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Zinc is a mineral the body requires for the synthesis of collagen, which aids skin healing and growth. Zinc is also a component of proper enzyme functioning, which the body needs to repair skin wounds. Zinc citrate is one of the highest absorbable forms and can be found in many professional-level supplement lines.
Easily the most important initial approach to improving overall skin health. The active components EPA and DHA are powerful anti-inflammatory agents for acne-prone skin and provide essentials oils to make skin glow. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies include eczema, dandruff, dry and flaky skin and poor wound healing. Using professional-grade fish oil will help ensure purity and optimal quality.
The intestinal tract is, by far, the most important organ to take care of when looking to make your skin happy and healthy. If you've ever taken a round of antibiotics, drank tap water or eaten processed foods -- chances are your levels of healthy bacteria could benefit from a top-up (they're critical to maintaining proper nutrient absorption, which contributes to optimal health, including healthy looking skin).
This antioxidant is crucial to the production of collagen, which is the connective tissue that keeps our skin nice and firm. Vitamin C helps to slow the aging processes that are easily visible: Wrinkles, sun spots, etc. Aim to take vitamin C in divided doses throughout the day -- a good dose is 1,000 mg, three times daily (never take these doses together). There are many great vitamin C products available, but always look for one mixed with flavonoids for maximum effectiveness.
Digestive enzymes are proteins that break down food so the body can use it efficiently. Enzymes help improve skin, hair and nail health by increasing the blood supply to the skin and body. Sadly, the reality is most North Americans eat high amounts of processed foods. This is problematic for many reasons, because processed foods are almost completely devoid of healing nutrients and strip your body of its enzyme pools -- all of which affects the skin. If your food isn't digested properly, it's hard to absorb vitamins and minerals (which can ultimately lead to malnutrition). If you want beautiful skin, digestive health must be at its optimal level.
This powerful antioxidant acts as a preservative for skin cells. We're constantly exposed to damaging free radicals, which causes skin to look aged and weathered. Studies show high amounts of vitamin E and other antioxidants can slow the aging processes of cells.
Vitamin E supplements need to be in a complete blend of all eight subtypes -- four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Most brands aren't of this type, which is why I stress the importance of looking long and hard for the perfect supplement.
Nothing fancy required, but a soluble and insoluble fibre blend is best. We need fibre to remove toxins from our bowels before they get reabsorbed into the bloodstream. As I mentioned above, the key to good skin is an efficient digestive system. Ground flaxseeds can also help to maintain bowel health.
Dr. John Dempster is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto. He's the founder of The Dempster Clinic -- Center for Integrated Medicine and embraces the biochemical uniqueness of each patient. With a focus on regenerative and anti-aging medicine, he focuses on optimizing nutritional and biochemical imbalances.