Welcome to Week 9 – Calming Inflammation for Clear, Healthy Skin

Inflammation is the underlying cause of all chronic lifestyle disease.  When our bodies are in a state of inflammation, slowly and steadily cellular damage is occurring that causes harm to our vital organ systems.  One outward sign of internal inflammation is the appearance of your skin.   Inflamed skin is swollen, red, puffy, acneic and/or rashy.  Not only is this unattractive visually, but it accelerates aging of the skin and promotes the appearance of wrinkles later on. 

There are foods that can trigger inflammation in your skin, and those that fight inflammation too.  In fact, many of the phases in the Healthy Skin Challenge so far have actually been diet and lifestyle choices that help lower inflammation in the body.  When eating to reduce systemic inflammation, foods to avoid include:  sugar, refined carbs (white bread, donuts, baked goods), excessive alcohol and caffeine, trans fats, corn syrup, fried foods, and foods with chemical preservatives such as TV dinners and packaged foods.

In addition, you can take proactive steps towards promoting a healthy, anti-inflammatory state in your body and on your skin.  The chart below outlines some potential issues and how to help prevent them. 

The Cause

What to do about it

Low levels of protein and excess sodium can cause puffiness.

Eat 40-70 grams of high quality protein per day (3 oz turkey = 26 gms; 5 oz salmon  = 34 gms; 6 oz Greek yogurt  = 20 gms).

Avoid canned foods (especially soups) and processed foods – i.e.  things that come in box.  Fast food and most restaurant food is high in sodium too.

Free radical damage from environmental toxins (chemicals, soaps, air pollution), poor diet and exposure to bacteria and viruses can lead to redness and inflammation.  If free radicals damage the moisture barrier, skin will appear dry and scaly.

Eat 5-7 servings/day of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.  Some are even better at squelching free radicals than others — berries, cherries, grapes, nectarines, pears, pomegranate, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, beets, olives and potatoes.

Sunlight is the number one source of damage to the skin and causes redness, puffiness, wrinkles, age spots, a rough scaly appearance and even cancer.

Protect your skin from the sun!  Invest in good sunglasses, a hat and some clothing with SPF protection built in.  Wear a mineral-based physical sun protection that is free from harmful chemicals.  Certain nutrients naturally help your skin block UV rays too. Lutein, which is found in Brussels sprouts, kale, eggs (yolk too), spinach, romaine lettuce and corn is one example.

The challenge this week:  Take steps to reduce inflammation in your body by eating foods that are anti-inflammatory as well as avoid environmental and solar exposures.  The anti-inflammatory food pyramid below can help guide you. Later this week we will post some recipes and menu suggestions for how to turn down the inflammation in your body. 

 Pyramid Source:  Dr. Andrew Weil