Firstly, inflammation is both a signal and a process indicating the body is under stress and is attempting to heal. As a self-maintaining system our bodies are always seeking self-preservation. It inherently seeks to remove harmful, foreign and toxic material like damaged cells, irritants, chemicals and bacteria and thus begin the healing process.
Short-term inflammation is good for us. It actually helps us heal. The problem is that a lot of us are under constant stress and are thus walking around with chronic inflammation. This is inflammation inside the body that doesn’t actually go away, but exists at a low somewhat tolerant level, gradually causing damage. The bigger issue becomes the failure to address or discover the underlying causes.
Inflammation of the skin is highly likely the effect of internal stress. Where you have an effect or symptom, there is most certainly an underlying cause. Thus the signs and symptoms of skin related inflammation, as listed below, are indicative of an underlying issue.
- Acne (inflammation)
- Rashes (inflammation)
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Sagging and bagging
- Irritation, itching
- Rosacea (inflammation)
- Eczema (inflammation)
- Dermatitis (inflammation)
- Psoriasis (inflammation)
Causes of Skin Inflamation
What causes long-term inflammation?
Underlying health issues that are chronic in nature, candida, digestive issues and such conditions are often root causes of the various health issues that become chronic and affect other areas of the body. Inflammation is certainly a symptom.
Intestinal parasites, a topic many avoid but these little guys have the ability to take over your body (host) and wreck havoc on your system. They affect the entire set of systems, organs included. Parasites feed on the host and release toxins that lead to many health challenges and is often a precursor for candidiasis (which is a precursor for other diseases, including cancer). This too causes inflammation, such as eczema, chronic dry heels, chronic dry, brittle hair & nails and stiff, painful joints.
Chronic environmental conditions, toxins, pollution and lack of sleep contribute to inflammation. Studies have even found that poor sleep quality was associated with higher levels of inflammation and weight gain. Chronic conditions also adversely impact the body’s ability to heal itself.
Diseases or disorders like asthma, arthritis, gum disease, ulcers, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases, and many more.
Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which over the long-term, can cause chronic inflammation.
Diet, scientific studies have shown that fatty foods, fried foods, refined sugar, and refined carbohydrates can all increase levels of internal inflammation. All of these issues can seem to be isolated, yet they are intertwined. The body has many systems but they all work together in synergy. A disruption in one can cause a disruption in all; and any one of the issues in the list aforementioned, can lead to internal inflammation—which of course, affects the skin! Skin challenges are more than skin deep!
Reducing Skin Inflammation
Combating Skin Inflammation With Food
You can begin to change the condition by changing what you eat! Not only can diet changes help counteract the ‘effects’ of stress, lack of sleep, and exposure to pollutants, but they’ll help provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to begin to repair itself. Here are 8 foods that you can start adding to your diet today!
- Tart cherries: In a 2012 study, researchers from Oregon Health & Science University stated that tart cherries had the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. It is often recommended by doctors for arthritis and gout (inflammation) as well. I like to buy tart, unsweetened dried cherries and eat them right out of the bag. I also add frozen dark cherries to vanilla yogurt (pre/probiotic) for a quick snack.
- Turmeric: This super spice is currently being studied for a number of wonderful things, including its potential anti-cancer activity. A key ingredient in curry, it contains a compound called “curcumin” that has been found to act as an anti-inflammatory in humans. A 2003 study review, for instance, found that curcumin inhibited a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation. It may seem like an unusual root but turmeric is quite delicious. I juice them along with carrots and celery for a daily power drink! I also use fresh pressed carrot and turmeric juice in one of our seasonal handmade soaps. Turmeric is also a key ingredient in a very tasty Ayurvedic tea called Golden Milk. I make mine with vanilla flax milk for extra omega 3 benefits!
- Olive & Hemp seed Oil: These oils, like many natural oils, are rich in essential fatty acids, which help hydrate and fortify skin. (One of the reasons we use so many natural oils in our products!) A 2010 study found that the oil has a balanced combination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help reduce overall inflammation.
- Walnuts: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts have been found in human studies to help lower the level of inflammation in the body. In the study, participants consumed an ounce of walnuts and a tablespoon of walnut oil a day for about six weeks. Results showed that their inflammation levels declined significantly. I eat walnuts right from the bag but they are great crushed and added to a protein shake (in the blender of course), or added to bowl of steel cut oats with diced banana and a drizzle of maple!
- Wild Caught Salmon: According to Dr. Mercola, the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in fish. That’s because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids that are vital to our health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Salmon, in particular, possesses one of the highest omega-3 contents.Omega-3 fatty acids have many critical biological functions because they are a primary element of health for virtually every cell and organ system in the body. In proper proportions with omega-6 fatty acids, they keep our bodies in balance, managing and reducing inflammation (joints and skin), blood pressure, and improving immune response, among other important functions. Since omega-3-rich salmon is a natural anti-inflammatory food, eating this delicious fish on a regular basis is a great way to keep your skin radiant. I personally trust and recommend none other than Vital Choice for high quality salmon and salmon oil.
- Probiotic Supplements & Fermented Foods: You can add kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha tea to this category, as they all contain healthy probiotics—those oh so hard working organisms that feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Studies have shown that not only do they improve digestion, they lower inflammation. A 2009 study, for example, reported that probiotics could actually reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis. A later 2011 study reported that participants who had inflammatory conditions like psoriasis had lower levels of inflammation after eight weeks of taking probiotics. Consult your doctor for recommendations on which form to take, how much and for how long.
- Cruciferous Veggies: Not only are they full of protective antioxidants, but they are excellent at reducing inflammation. A 2010 study, for example, found that eating broccoli for only 10 days cut inflammation by nearly half! Other cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower, cabbage & brussel sprouts have similar anti-inflammatory effects. Cruciferous veggies may seem boring (I thought so too), but a quick saute in a pan with olive oil and freshly grated garlic really transforms cruciferous veggies. A bit of tomato adds nice balance.
- Onions & Garlic: You can add chives, shallots, and leeks to this category as they all were found to help reduce inflammation in a 2011 study. A 2012 study found that fresh onion juice inhibited pain and inflammation, helping to reduce swelling in wounds. Subsequently, a 2014 study reported that garlic may act as both as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Garlic is also highly anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and more likely to attack the root cause of inflammation because it has a direct impact on intestinal yeast. Garlic is most effective when ingested raw. These powerful herbs are easy to incorporate into meals, whether paleo or vegan, garlic and onions have their rightful place at the table with any meal.
This article doesn’t get deep into the inflammation causing issues highlighted in the list above, because it would take many articles to examine this topic. However, this does bring the awareness to you for further research, so consider it food for thought. The good thing is that the research has been done and is easy to locate, it just takes time to assimilate, especially when you’ve been accustomed to doing things a certain way your entire life. Most people need time to research, meditate on their own health challenges and experiment with making small changes over time.
Do keep in mind that if you have gut issues like IBS or leaky gut, the underlying causes listed above are absolutely worth researching and discussing with a doctor; however, the list of 7 foods may actually be intolerable for your gut, a conversation for another article.
Since most of my community (including customers) deal with eczema and other skin issues, I spend a lot of time researching medical journals and alternative medicine, combining that knowledge with what I have already gained as an herbalist.
If I had to offer a few take-aways to get you started in your research concerning skin inflammation and underlying chronic conditions. I would begin with:
- candida & candidiasis
- intestinal yeast
- gut (intestinal) health
- gmo foods, pesticides and glyphosate
Comments: Share in the discussion by posting questions or comments that can be of value to the community at large. The more we share, the more we learn. The more we learn, the many we can help!