Eating Right for Your Healthy Skin
26 May 2017
The skin is the largest organ in the body and one of the most important, tasked with multiple vital functions. The skin acts as a protective barrier to defend the body from bacterial and viral microbes, regulates body temperature, and so much more.
Exposure to the sun, pollution, and extreme temperatures, in addition to the food we eat, all contribute to the health and appearance of the skin. The nutrients that our bodies extract from food don’t just go to the function of the body but also towards building and maintaining healthy skin and may help you to get rid of wrinkles.
Additionally, our skin acts as an important indicator of our overall health. A change in the color of the skin or the appearance of a rash can signal a change in your internal health. For example, a yellowish tint to the skin, commonly known as jaundice, can indicate that there is an excess of bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is typically eliminated from the body via stool and sometimes urine. When the body is unable to void itself of bilirubin, it builds up in the blood and causes the skin to take on a yellow hue.
How Does Our Diet Affect Our Skin?
In order to maintain structural and functional integrity, our skin – just as any other organ, tissue, and cell in the body – relies on nutrients. There are two types of nutrients: macronutrients include substances such as carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, while micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals.
A deficiency in any nutrient can lead to unhealthy looking skin or skin that does not function to its highest abilities. For example, a vitamin A deficiency is associated with dry skin and slower wound healing. Meanwhile, a diet high in sugar causes an inflammatory response in the body that may lead to the appearance of wrinkles. This is because when the body is in a state of inflammation, it produces enzymes that break down collagen, a protein that gives skin its strength, and elastin, a protein that contributes to the skin’s elasticity.
Although environmental factors affect the skin, our genes also play a role in the skin’s natural aging process and the body’s susceptibility to environmental stress. Eating according to our genes allows the skin to perform all functions as intended while appearing healthy, clean and radiant.
How Do Our Genes Affect the Health of Our Skin?
Your genes can affect skin appearance, your susceptibility to conditions of the skin such as allergies and inflammation, and your skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s UV rays. Companies such as Pathway Genomics offer testing to analyze genetic markers that contribute to skin health. As part of this service, they analyzes more than 80 markers that provide insight into your personal risk for deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin B12, folate-folic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Talk to your doctor if you are interested in starting a diet to maintain the health of your skin using information from a genetic test for nutrition. The information collected from these tests allows your doctor to tailor a specific diet plan based on your genetic predisposition to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as certain skin conditions.
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