Skin Health First

skin health

“At Last – Fat That You and Your Skin Can Love”

In our society a simple 3-letter word “fat” grew to become a notorious villain. The fact is however, that to live a healthy life and… to show off your beautiful complexion we need to recognize the “good” from the “ugly”. I hope the short story below will help you in this process.

Eating right means diet with no fat – RIGHT? WRONG!

Eating the RIGHT kinds of fat is essential for optimal health as well as good skin tone. Most of our diet is full of too much saturated fat and not enough of the essential fats that we call essential oils. The essential oils are those that promote clear and healthy skin and are also good for your heart.

Saturated and mono-unsaturated fats are not necessary in your diet; the polyunsaturated fats or oils are essential for your health and to maintain youthful, radiant and healthy looking skin.

The polyunsaturated oils provide two essential fats: Omega 6 (linoleic acid) and Omega 3 (alpha-linoleic acid). If these essential fatty acids are processed using heat (as fried and cooked or baked at high temperatures) they change to trans-fats and liberate free radicals which can damage skin and local tissues. These transformed fats are not good for us and interfere with liver metabolism, increase the likelihood of heart disease and inhibit our immune system. So avoid processed or fried foods, which change the structure of these essential fatty acids (EFA).

The body cannot manufacture EFA, so they must be supplied by the diet. EFA are necessary for the proper functioning of all tissues and for tissue repair, especially the skin since the EFAs hold skin cells together in a water tight seal and retain moisture.

The best source of EFA is fish (among the best is salmon and herring) and flaxseeds (linseed). Also a diet high in nuts and seeds, especially walnuts and pumpkin seeds will help to supply the necessary EFAs. Taking Omega 3, as a supplement such as cod-liver oil will help to support the proper function of the brain, vision, facilitate learning and prevent mood swings. These oils also help to control blood cholesterol, improve immunity, reduce inflammation (also in skin), moisten dry skin and support the body’s water metabolism.

Omega 3 (alpha-linoleic acid) is converted by the body into gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and may then proceed to the pathway responsible for the synthesis of prostaglandins. These prostaglandins keep blood thin (inhibit platelet aggregation), lower blood pressure, aid water metabolism, decrease inflammation, improve nerve and immune function and help to balance blood sugar. This group of fats is present in seeds and their oils. The best source of seed oils are pumpkin, hemp, sunflower, safflower, sesame, corn, walnut, soybean and wheatgerm oil. Evening primrose oil and borage oil are the best-known sources of Gamma-linoleic acid and may be taken as supplements.

Both these two fats Omega 6 and Omega 3 (linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid) are essential for healthy skin since they work together to keep skin smooth and soft and help the cells to retain the appropriate amount of water. Adequate EFAs also help to reduce the dehydrating effects of heat, wind and other environmental factors. If you have a deficiency of EFA the health of your skin deteriorates, the skin becomes dehydrated, itchy, dry and inflamed and you will be more prone to skin infections.

EFAs help wounds to heal more quickly (acne scars), strengthen capillary walls and prevent enlargement of sebaceous glands that in turn may become over active resulting in a higher chance for acne. EFA also help to balance hormones and increase blood flow to the skin.

To ensure an adequate intake of EFA in the diet eat plenty of fish, nuts, seeds and their oils. Have seeds ground up and sprinkled on your salads or into your cereals, even dip your fish or meat into the oil extracts. Make sure the nuts, seeds and oils are stored in air-tight containers to prevent them from turning rancid and producing damaging trans-fats. You may also take an EFA supplement.

USE THE “GOOD FATS” TO FEED YOUR SKIN

EVENING PRIMROSE MASK

This mask nourishes skin and reduces inflammation. It can be used for all skin types but is especially good for dry, skin or acne damaged, scarred and sensitive skin. Evening primrose is rich in gamma linoleic acid and contains all the therapeutic properties of the essential fatty acids; and helps rebalance sebaceous secretions. Use the mask one a week or as desired.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons all natural, plain yogurt
  • Potato starch
  • 2 capsules of evening primrose oil
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (organic if possible)
  • 2 capsules of vitamin E
  • Rosewater (may be bought in natural food stores as rosehydrolat). This is to be used after the mask

Open the capsules of evening primrose and vitamin E and place the oils in a bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the rosewater. Add enough water to make a good mask consistency. The paste should be the consistency of chocolate icing on a cake, easy to spread but not “leaky”. Apply the mask to a clean face and neck and leave to absorb for 20 minutes. Relax.

Rinse off with warm water and pat-dry delicately preferably with a cotton towel. Finish by toning your skin with light floral water such as rosewater. Discard any remaining mask and make a fresh batch for each treatment.

6 Beauty Supplements You Haven’t Heard Of

beauty supplements

Beauty Supplements

There is a present plenitude of beauty supplements these days and with scores of recommendations it becomes difficult to tell the signal from the noise.  Fear not, there are indeed supplements that can take years off your appearance, but more importantly the supplements that make you look more vibrant are also those that make you more vigorous.  If you want to feel healthier and fitter, read on.

beauty supplements

For sun protection

Try: Fern Extract

Aside from regularly using sunscreen, you can protect yourself from harmful UV rays by taking a potent antioxidant supplement such as Heliocare. Research from the University of Miami School of Medicine indicates that the fern extract in these pills significantly reduced UVA-related DNA damage that leads to wrinkling and brown spots by up to 80%. For best results, pop one each day starting a week before you plan on fun in the sun. “This allows the antioxidants to build up in your system for maximum protection,” says Leslie Baumann, MD, a Miami Beach-based dermatologist and sunburn specialist.

beauty supplements

To stop nail breakage

Try: Biotin

A daily 2.5 mg dose of the B vitamin biotin in good for swimmers or in the summer months when you’re in the water more often. “This supplement helps prevent breakage from too much exposure to salt and chlorine,” says Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spas. Research shows that a daily dose of the nutrient increases nail thickness by 25%, making nails less apt to split and tear.

beauty supplements

To reverse skin damage

Try: Idebenone

It may be hard to pronounce, but idebenone (eh-DE-be-known) spells younger-looking skin. The antioxidant is small enough to penetrate deep into skin to repair damaged cells, says David McDaniel, MD, an assistant professor of clinical dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Taken daily, Idebenone defends your skin’s health from the inside out.  I started taking it, but not for my skin.  Apparently it’s a potent catalyst of mitochondrial energy production.  Who doesn’t need more energy?

beauty supplements

For healthier skin, hair & nails

Try: Primrose & Black Currant Oil

“Consider supplementing with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fat that helps promote healthy skin, hair, and nails and is very hard to come by in the diet,” says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona. “The best sources of GLA are evening primrose oil and black currant oil; take 500 mg of either twice a day and expect to use them for 6 to 8 weeks before you see results.”  GLA is the central component of skin lipids, without it your skin will be wan and saggy.

beauty supplements

For stronger nails

Try: Flax Seed

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for nail health,” says Weil. “Eat a few more weekly servings of omega-rich flaxseed, walnuts, and oily, cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, or take daily supplements with 2 to 3 g of fish oil to get a combined 1 g of EPA and DHA.”  I love throwing flaxseed in my juice or oatmeal.  There are many creative ways to incorporate legumes with good omega fatty acids.

beauty supplements

For firm, smooth skin

Try: Imedeen Prime Renewal

The idea that a biomarine-based complex can shore up aging skin may sound a little fishy, but the evidence is impressive, says Baumann. Postmenopausal women taking the supplement (which is recommended for those age 50 and up) saw significant improvement in skin firmness and smoothness in a 6-month study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition—and the results were seen on the face, d’colletage, and hands. Likewise, in a similar 12-week study on women taking a sister supplement (Imedeen Time Perfection, suggested for women 35 to 50), skin’s moisture content increased by 30%. Other changes include a visible reduction in fine lines, a fading of sunspots, and an overall brighter complexion.

The contents of the Imedeen capsules—which contain a proprietary protein derived from a deep-sea fish and high concentrations of antioxidants such as vitamin C and lycopene—work in part by increasing production of collagen and elastin, as well as hyaluronic acid, the body’s natural moisturizer, says Imedeen’s Lars Lindmark, PhD. Take the Imedeen supplement suggested for your age, advises Baumann, who uses Time Perfection herself and recommends it to patients. Although a 90-day supply of Prime Renewal ($265) is significantly more expensive than Time Perfection ($195; both at imedeen.us), the dosage supplies twice the amount of the biomarine complex.

Does A Quick Acne Cure Exist?

acne cureThere are lots of places on the Internet you can find advertisements for products claiming to be the one and only acne cure. Most of it is pure nonsense at best. This article takes a look at what products work and how long it actually takes to get rid of acne.

Summary:

  • Many websites promote products that claim to get rid of acne in 24 hours, in 3 days, in 7 days, or in just a month.
  • All of these products fail miserably.
  • Most medical treatments only reduce the number of blemishes by 30% to 75% over a 90-day period.
  • The best-performing acne treatments happen to be the least expensive. They are benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid.
  • Don’t try to fight acne with just one method, experiment. Change your diet and lifestyle too.

Misinformation

One website claims that the B-vitamin pantothenic acid eliminates acne fast and completely. It identifies pantothenic acid as an herb.

Another website correctly identifies vitamin B5 as pantothenic, and then incorrectly identifies it as “the only non-prescription treatment proven to work against acne.” While it’s true B5 can temporarily diminish your sebum production it won’t cure your acne long term unless your acne was a result of B5 deficiency in the first place.

If fact, only one clinical study has tested the efficacy of high dose B5 for the treatment of acne and its conclusion was the same: if you are deficient it will help.  There have been several thousand studies of non-prescription treatments for acne that do work to some degree.

Another website claims that its product made from extracts of ten “superfoods” can clear acne in 10 days, during which customers will also lose 10 pounds. No clinical study has ever shown that any of the 10 superfoods in the product cures any acne, but one study found that one of the antioxidants in the product helps users lose an additional pound every six months without dieting.

There simply aren’t any diets, foods, or nutritional products that get rid of all of your blemishes in 24 hours. Or in three days. Or even in 30 days or six months.  The thing to keep in mind is that most health and fitness problems require a holistic approach, whether improving your sleep, energy or happiness.

The boldest claims are made for products that are not clinically tested. When they sound too good to be true, they are. But how effective are clinically tested products for acne?

No Medication Gets Rid of 100% of Acne, Either

Some medications are usually better than others—different users getting different results—but no medication gets rid of all acne blemishes. Here are some key findings of published medical research.

  • Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid often recommended for exfoliating oily skin to break up blackheads. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology reported that using a salicylic acid product three times a week got rid of  an average of 48% of blackheads in three months.
  • 0.05% tretinoin topical is the strongest over-the-counter form of Retin-A available in the USA. A study of tretinoin topical as an acne treatment for teens found that it got rid of and average of 30% of pimples and 36% of blackheads in three months.
    Clindamycin is antibiotic favored for acne treatment in Canada (although it is also available in the US, Australia, and Europe) because it has relatively few side effects. A study by the Medicis Corporation in Phoenix, Arizona found that it got rid of an average of 60% of pimples and 49% of blackheads in three months.
  • Benzoyl peroxide is the world’s most commonly used treatment for truncal acne, also known as back acne or bacne. A study reported in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology that using a 5.3% benzoyl peroxide foam every day for 3 months got rid of an average 75% of blackheads and pimples on the back.
  • Tea tree oil is the world’s most commonly recommended herbal therapy for acne. Scientists at the Isfahan University of the Medical Sciences in Iran found that applying a 5% solution of tea tree oil to the skin for 6 weeks reduced, on average, the number of pimples by 47% and the number of blackheads by 40%.
  • Oral contraceptives are often used to treat premenstrual acne. One study found that switching to brand of oral contraceptive called Yaz reduced the number of pimples by an average of 51% and the number of blackheads and whiteheads by an average of 48% in three months, while another study found that the same contraceptive reduced the number of pimples by 48% and the number  of blackheads and whiteheads by 39%.
  • Zilieuton is a new drug for acne. Phase II clinical testing found that using it for 30 days eliminated, on average, 41.2% of acne blemishes.
  • Diet is often recommended for treating acne, but the medical literature only records five clinical studies of diet as a treatment for acne. A clinical trial conducted at the RMT University in Melbourne, Australia concluded that reducing glycemic load (reducing both the consumption of sugars and the total consumption of carbohydrates) reduced the average count of acne blemishes by approximately 50%.

In going through the fact-based literature of acne treatment, two things stand out about the results. One thing that stands out is that real-world acne treatment methods, as opposed to some wild idea marketer hypes to sell you a product, typically find that it takes about three months to get rid of just 50% of blemishes. And the other thing that stands out in the findings of medical science is that simple, inexpensive, natural treatments like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil, salicylic acid, and diet are just as effective as most medications. Just because something costs more and is only available with a doctor’s prescription does not mean it works better.

But what do you use if you want to get rid of all of your blemishes?

Holistic Acne Treatment

Using a single method to treat acne will never get rid of all of your blemishes. And, to be honest about  it, using an expensive treatment “system” will never get rid of all of your blemishes, either. However, a good acne treatment approach is holistic, changing your skin regiment, lifestyle and diet, will usually get rid of 90% or more of your blemishes in 30 days. You may get visible results the very first day and up to a 30% reduction in the count of blemishes in 7 days, but completely clear skin usually takes about 30 days.

That’s why you just shouldn’t use acne skin care products that don’t come with at least a 30-day money-back guarantee. There is just no way you can know whether they will work in less than 30 days.

And it’s also why you don’t need a system for fighting acne. You need an approach.  At the very least, you need to experiment with topical products, changes to diet and lifestyle and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t so you can adopt new habits accordingly. So try out nutritional supplements, topical products and mix up your diet.  One supplement that helps most skin conditions is Lactobacillus.

If you’d like to learn more about selecting the right acne cream, click here.

What People Say Works for Psoriasis

cures for psoriasis

People living with Psoriasis have reported that some of the most effective treatments for their skin include simple interventions like sunlight, salt water, and avoiding stresses.
itchy psoriasis cream
This is according to a new study by CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

Psoriasis is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders in the United States, affecting an estimated seven million Americans and 125 million worldwide. The condition is characterized by patches of itchy, scaly skin. In its mild form, psoriasis may be just a nuisance, but severe cases can be both painful,  disfiguring and debilitating.

Finding the right treatment can be difficult, so CureTogether asked people living with Psoriasis to rate the effectiveness of 34 different patient-reported treatments.

Participants in the study said they found that phototherapy, cortisone injections, swimming in the ocean, and sunlight were among the most effective, in addition to avoiding stress and triggers and the medications Dovonex and T-Gel. Conversely some common treatments such as oatmeal baths, Epsom salts, and Vitamin D, were among the least effective, according to the study.

Most Effective Rated Treatments for Psoriasis
1. UVB Phototherapy
2. Cortisone injection
3. Salt water/ocean
4. Sunlight
5. Topical corticosteroids
6. Avoid triggers
7. Avoid stress
8. Dovonex
9. UVA Phototherapy
10. T-Gel

Where did this data come from? This is the result of a four-year CureTogether study on Psoriasis, in which 275 people living with the condition shared information about their symptoms and what treatments worked best for them. We’d like to thank those who participated. And just as they shared their experience with treatments, we’re freely and openly sharing the results of the Psoriasis study.

This is part of a regular series of CureTogether research findings. CureTogether’s research findings are different than those made by 23andMe, which look at genetic associations with illness, traits and drug response. But as we continue our work with the CureTogether community, 23andMe hopes to incorporate more of this kind of self-reported information into our own research. CureTogether presents its findings just as they are — patient-reported data — to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research.

Please tweet, blog, or pass this along to anyone who can benefit or is interested in Psoriasis. Thank you!

 

 

How to Cure Acne – Taking a Look at Natural Cures for Acne

acne creamCan you really cure acne and get rid of unsightly blemishes and pimples for good? Almost every acne sufferer can cure acne with a minimum of prescription medications such as antibiotics and Accutane, but some of the most effective treatments for mild to moderate acne are seldom discussed.

Summary:

  • Drying out the skin makes acne worse. Staying hydrated helps cure it.
  • Antioxidants can make a huge difference in how fast acne heals. But some antioxidants work inside your body, while other antioxidants are best applied directly to the skin.
  • Chocolate does not cause skin blemishes, most of the time.
  • For mild to moderate acne, treatment can be as simple as 1-2-3.

The Hidden Connection Between Healthy Digestion and Healthy Skin

Seventy years ago, at least in the United States, it was taken for granted that a healthy colon had a lot to do with healthy skin. Two dermatologists named John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury had documented a pattern of symptoms including constipation, depression, and acne. They theorized that probiotic bacteria, such as Bifodobacterium and Lactobacillus acidophilous, interacted with the immune system, “upregulating” the chemical signals that tell the skin to fight acne bacteria, and also with the brain, by “downregulating” the chemical signals that cause inflammation.

Stokes and Pillsbury noticed that adults who continued to have acne often had bloating, gas, constipation, and a mental state best described as “the blahs.” Especially in older adults, the presence of acne, sluggish digestion, and low-grade depression was also accompanied by a failure of the stomach to secrete enough stomach acid. Stomach acid kills unhealthy bacteria, such as Bacteriodes, but leaves more of the helpful bacteria untouched. This observation led to two different ways to treat the combination of acne, indigestion, and depression.

One way to treat the problem is to consume probiotics. In the United States, “Greek” yogurt is the product most likely to provide the full range of health probiotic bacteria, or you might want to take a vegan probiotic supplement like Alive. Providing your gut with more healthy bacteria helps them get rid of the unhealthy bacteria that cause symptoms.

To keep the unhealthy bacteria from coming back, it helps to stimulate the production of stomach acid. Bitter foods trigger the release of stomach acid. Since most poisons in plants have a bitter taste, the human body has developed a kind of preemptive first aid system that dissolves bitter foods more thoroughly than sweet, salty, sour, or umami foods. You don’t have to give up anything sweet, you just have to eat the bitter food separately, preferably at the beginning of the meal. Salad greens are enough to activate the release of stomach acid that kills pro-acne bacteria and protects anti-acne bacteria.

Hydrating Tight Pores

Another way to fight acne is with water. Dry skin is usually tight skin. Tight skin traps oil and bacteria inside pores. Hydrating the skin loosens it so oil and bacteria can flow naturally to the surface, where you can simply rinse them away every morning.

Hydrating from the inside out doesn’t usually require drinking amounts of water. Drinking enough water to avoid dehydration is usually enough. If you are indoors in a cool place, you may only need 5 cups (about 1200 ml) of water every day to provide your skin with the moisture it needs from your body. Especially if you have oily skin, however, you need much more water if you go outside in hot weather—as much as 5 cups or more per hour at 40° C/104° F or more.

Hydrating your skin from outside is usually accomplished with moisturizers. There are some ingredients in moisturizers that sound bad but that are really OK, such as cholesterol and ceramides (famous as the supposedly “toxic” chemical formed in the oil used to cook French fries). There are also some ingredients in moisturizers that sound OK but that are really bad for your skin, such as essential oils, most herbal extracts, and alcohol. All of these ingredients can dry out skin. Even if you have naturally oily skin, you need to keep your skin hydrated. “Oily” skin just refers to the production of oil from your pores, not the moisture content of your skin itself.

Antioxidants in You vs. Antioxidants on You

Antioxidants help the skin stop the inflammation that causes the long-term damage from acne. If you have dark, oily acne-affected skin, for example, your skin will produce unusually large amounts of the pigment melanin to serve as a protective antioxidant. Melanin, however, gives your skin its darker shades, so the melanin it makes to repair damage from inflammation becomes a more or less permanent brown or black spot. Providing the skin with alternative antioxidants helps prevent the process that protects the skin with permanent blemishes.

The antioxidants that help when taken by mouth are alpha-lipoic acid, also great for firming up bags and sags, and DMAE, great for helping the skin fill in indentations. If you take alpha-lipoic acid, be sure your product is formulated to include the B vitamin biotin, or take a biotin supplement.

The antioxidants that have the greatest effect applied to your skin in creams or lotions are vitamins C and E, but not just any vitamin C or E will work. “Ordinary” vitamin C is water-soluble, but about 75% of the content of your skin is fat. You need a special kind of vitamin C known as ascorbyl palmitate that can penetrate the skin to do it good.

But What About Chocolate?

Very few people need to go on a special, restricted diet to fight acne. But nearly everyone does better by avoiding excessive consumption of chocolate.

Samantha Block, a medical student at the University of Miami, recruited 10 men aged 18 to 35 who had a history of mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Her recruits had at least one active acne lesion (that is, a blackhead, a whitehead, or a pimple), but no more than four. She then offered them as many pure dark chocolate Ghiradelli candy bars as they wanted—no one in the test took more than three—and asked them to come back three times over the next week. Ms. Block did not include women in the study because menstrual cycles and birth control use would complicate interpretation of the results.

At the end of five days, one of the volunteers in the study had 85 new pimples! Most of the men who indulged in chocolate bars had at least 10 new blemishes. If you have acne, you really should not have chocolate.

Stress And Acne

While acne myths are quite common, hormonal fluctuations really do cause acne and stress really does affect hormone levels. Certainly remedies such as over the counter products, drugs, and light treatment devices have their place in the fight to get clear, but reducing stress is equally important and should not be overlooked. Most people don’t need a guide to reducing stress, they already realize what needs to be changed, and it’s obviously something that is both free and can be done from home.

Putting It All Together

None of these common sense interventions for acne is likely to be a cure all by itself. Any one of them, however, maybe that little something extra your skin needs for all the other hard work you put into acne treatment to work. Without giving up any part of your existing acne routine, try these simple steps. It may be that the treatment that enables you to cure acne is a safe, inexpensive, minor addition to your daily skin care routine.

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