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Condition - Sensitive skin

By Cathy Robinson BSc(Hons) DipNutMed MWNMS

Your skin reflects what is going on inside your body and all skin conditions mirror the body’s internal and nutritional situation.  The health of the digestive system is intrinsically linked with the health of the skin and, if we cannot remove toxins effectively via the digestive route, the skin will suffer. Sensitive skin can be characterised by psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, blackheads or unexplained redness and itching.

Contributing factors

  • Chemical sensitivities, e.g. to soap, detergents, etc
  • Food intolerances
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Imbalances in the bacterial population of the digestive tract
  • Poor liver detoxification

Useful nutrients

  • Multivitamin/mineral, to ensure the skin is getting the nutrients it needs. Important skin nutrients include zinc; which contributes to skin repair, with low levels being associated with acne; vitamin A, which is necessary for the repair of skin tissue; and silicon, which is an important component of connective tissue
  • Essential fatty acids, especially of the omega 3 series, such as those found in fish oils and flax seeds, may help to reduce inflammation and encourage a balanced production of the skin’s natural oil barrier
  • B complex vitamins, which, if deficient, can lead to skin problems such as dermatitis
  • Vitamin C is a major component of collagen, the skin’s structural matrix
  • MSM may play a role in collagen metabolism and, therefore, skin healing, but may also help to reduce inflammation. MSM can also be applied topically as a cream
  • L-glutamine provides a fuel for the lining of the digestive system, thus aiding its function
  • A probiotic, containing the friendly bacteria, which naturally reside in our digestive system, may be useful in cases of skin complaints
  • Liver-supporting herbs, such as milk thistle, can aid detoxification 

DIETARY ADVICE

  • Reduce saturated fats in the diet, including dairy products, red meat and fried foods, and increase essential fats, which are found in oily fish, nuts and seeds and their associated oils
  • Reduce the amount of refined sugar, as sugar can interfere with the anti-inflammatory mechanisms in the body and may reduce the effectiveness of the immune system
  • Reduce caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and coke, and avoid alcohol.  Cat’s claw tea may play a role in managing inflammation
  • Identify and eliminate food sensitivities. A food intolerance pinprick blood test is available, which you can carry out at home
  • Avoid refined foods, including biscuits, cakes, pies and sugared breakfast cereals
  • Increase intake of wholegrains, including oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat and barley
  • Eat plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables
  • Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of filtered or distilled water

LIFESTYLE ADVICE

  • Relax and chew your food well
  • Wear loose clothing whenever possible
  • Try skin brushing, using a natural bristle brush, to improve lymph flow. Use only a very light pressure at first and avoid any sensitive areas. Brush daily, towards the heart, before your bath or shower. Massage and rebounding can also improve circulation and lymph flow, which, in turn, can improve detoxification 

According to the Psoriasis Association, around two to three per cent of the population in the UK and Ireland are sufferers.  What can you do? In addition to the earlier suggestions, the following supplements may be useful:

USEFUL SUPPLEMENTS

  • Betaine HCL, to aid protein digestion – incomplete protein digestion can increase bowel toxicity and has been shown to exacerbate symptoms
  • Chromium – sufferers tend to have increased serum levels of insulin and glucose
  • Aloe vera – to help digestive function and detoxification
  • Probiotics – to help intestinal function

LIFESTYLE ADVICE

  • It is especially important to limit intake of animal products, due to their inflammatory potential
  • Include more sulphurous foods in the diet, such as garlic and onions
  • Include flax seeds in your diet for additional fibre and to support healthy bowel function
  • Try to reduce stress with relaxation techniques. Taking regular warm baths and adding dead sea salt or mineral salts may be restful and calming
  • Using MSM topically as a cream may be helpful  

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