Skin health is getting a lot of publicity these days. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the total estimated direct cost of skin disease in 2013 was almost $75 billion, of which $10 billion was for over-the-counter solutions. Many individuals will eventually seek diagnosis to pinpoint which skin condition they have through a medical doctor. Unfortunately, a diagnosis does not always reveal what is the true cause of the condition. There are many factors that may contribute to skin disorders, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, and research is discovering that dietary modifications could help us remediate our protective barrier.
There is a growing cognizance of the relationship between nutrition and wellness, and it does not seem unreasonable that our skin is impacted by our diet. Research has concluded that some food allergies or intolerances can lead to acute or chronic skin conditions, and both are on the rise. Individuals with skin disorders tend to have oversensitive immune systems and can acquire allergic skin rashes and other conditions due to proteins found in food or food additives.
It is wise to assume that consuming too many processed foods and artificial ingredients can increase inflammation in the body. For example, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives found in artificial foods such as aspartame have been documented to trigger skin conditions, as has propylene glycol, an ingredient commonly found in sour cream, condiments and food coloring. On the contrary, some foods and herbs that are otherwise considered healthy and natural foods, such as chamomile or garlic, can be the culprit, but are less likely to fall suspect. The obstacle for many is determining what foods, if any, are aggravating their skin disorder.
It is important to remember that our wellness and health begins in our gastrointestinal tract, and for some individuals, food intolerances can create irritation, inflammation and an imbalanced microbiome in the gut. Digestion and gut health are very important for health in general, and reconsidering diet choices should be a priority. A study was published last year in the journal Dermatologic Therapy that suggested certain foods had a negative impact in regard to severity of those suffering from psoriasis, a common skin condition that causes skin cells to generate too quickly. The study found that reducing or eliminating gluten, dairy and nightshades, which include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, helped them. They also concluded that adding in fatty acids, vitamin D and following a vegan or Mediterranean Diet was helpful.
First, try eliminating foods that have been associated with skin sensitivity, including eggs, tree nuts, peanuts and soy. Other foods associated with rashes are citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple and papaya. In many cases, avoiding allergenic foods does help resolve skin conditions; however, restricting foods should be done with caution and under the guidance of a health professional. It is important that whatever approach we take does not omit vital vitamins and nutrients.
Dr. Sarah Stout, owner of Reinventing Wellness, in Ballston Lake, is a doctor of naturopathy, certified in clinical nutrition, holistic health counseling, raw food detox and raw food cooking. For more information, call 518-410-9401 or visit ReinventingWellness.com.