Tired of having red, itchy or inflamed skin? For many chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or other dermatitis it is not only important to eliminate external irritants, but to also search for the root of the issue in order to prevent rather than simply treat signs and symptoms. We typically medicate these conditions topically with corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, or chemical packed moisturizers. These treatment options work by suppressing our inflammatory response to reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is not always a bad thing, think of it as a signal from our skin. It is a mechanism by which our body fights off threatening invaders in order to protect our health. These invaders include substances such as allergens, harsh chemicals, germs, bacteria or other things that tend to damage our skin or cause us to come down with nasty colds. So by suppressing our inflammatory response with drugs our skin might appear clearer and less bothered. However, the treatment suppresses our immune system, which can leave us vulnerable to disease or infection.
This defensive mechanism is extremely important to protecting our health, but inflammation can also be harmful when it persists over long periods of time. When our body is in an inflamed state for a long time it’s called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation happens when the balance between anti-inflammatory compounds and pro-inflammatory compounds in the body is compromised. The cause of this imbalance is unknown, but the health of our gut seems to play a critical role in the presence of chronic inflammation.
Why is the health of your gut so important? Well, most of our anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory compounds reside inside your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Damage to our GI tract or gut means damage to these compounds, resulting in the internal imbalance and prolonged inflammation.
While it is important to avoid contact with external triggers, research has shown that what foods we choose to put−or not to put−INTO our bodies have a stronger influence on the presence of chronic inflammation and the overall health and functioning of our immune system.
In fact, some foods we eat are known to promote inflammation, while others can combat it! Known as the anti-inflammatory diet, research suggests that including a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and low in inflammatory-promoting foods can reduce chronic inflammation and the many chronic diseases related to it.
Foods that promote inflammation are foods that tend to be labeled “bad” for our health already. These include, refined carbohydrates or sugars, trans fats found in fried foods, soda, red meat, high fat dairy products and margarine. Foods that combat inflammation include a variety of fruits and veggies high in antioxidants and polyphenols such as dark leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, onions, berries, and cherries. Lean proteins containing anti-inflammatory properties like tofu, tempeh, soynuts, soymilk, or edamame. Along with flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, or oils high in omega-3 fatty acids− known for its role in reducing inflammation.
Therefore, to treat your skin externally−first eliminate products with harsh chemicals that tend to further dry out your skin and suppress your skin’s natural response- and switch to a moisturizer with natural ingredients. Try my favorite MMT Cocoa Skin Cream, made with only four organic ingredients! Or one of the other unscented MMT products like the new MMT Face + Body Cream or Baby Body Oil. And use food as your medicine! Opt for whole grains over processed, healthy fats over trans fats, naturally sweetened beverages over ones loaded with sugar, and lean plant proteins over high fat dairy and animal products!
1. Moore, Marissa (2014). Inflammation and Diet. Academy of Nutriton and Dietetics. Retrieved from:http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/wellness/preventing-illness/inflammation-and-diet
2. Nutrients found in plant products that are protective against degenerative diseases.
Written by Amber Pelletier. Amber is a nutritionist and the sister of Tara (one of our co-founders). She will be guest blogging for MMT sharing some of her knowledge on essential vitamins and minerals and how we can access them in our skin care and diet.
Photo credit: The Surge
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