Skin Support Plan

Try Micki Rose's 5-step plan to dampen down dermatitis, attack your acne or wish your wrinkles away.

Allergy is a major factor in many skin conditions, but whether you want to dampen down dermatitis, attack your acne or wish away your wrinkles, all skin conditions can be helped to some extent by the same core support. Read the theory and follow the plan here, adapting it for your specific allergy needs. You should notice an improvement in any skin condition and gain plumper, smoother skin that won’t age prematurely.

Damage Limitation
Like a car left out in all weathers, we rust when we come into contact with oxygen. That’s putting a complex process very simply, but basically that’s what happens to our bodies over time as a result of internal body processes and our exposure to sunlight, pollution, toxins, heated cooking oils and the like.

Our cells use oxygen in metabolic processes and we produce damaging by-products called free radicals. A good analogy is to think of the activity in your cells like a smelting process in a factory and visualise the sparks flying. Those sparks are the free radicals and, if they’re not stamped on quickly, they will cause real damage to tissues, cell membranes, fats, proteins and DNA.

Antioxidants are the fire extinguishers responsible for putting those sparks out; that’s why you hear so much about needing plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and veg. There are many good skin antioxidants and I have included a list below, but a mix is probably best as they work more effectively in combination.

So, if you don’t want to end up all wrinkly and oxidised like an old piece of fruit, you need to limit your free radical production and shore up the level of antioxidants available in your body to quench them.

Ageing: A Problem Of Nutrient Deficiency?
As well as antioxidants, your skin needs other key nutrients to keep it healthy. Many experts believe that premature skin ageing is a simple nutrient deficiency disease. Our bodies are fantastic at regenerating themselves; we’re like mini Dr Whos where almost every cell in the body breaks down and is replaced regularly! Bone is reabsorbed, cartilage regrows and cell membranes are replaced all the time. But only if we have the ability to do it.

Dr Paul Clayton wrote a superb book called Health Defence that I ask many people to read to prevent future illness. He gives a good explanation of how he sees the ageing process:
“The process of tissue breakdown is called ‘catabolic’ ... Wear begins to exceed repair, we are effectively catabolic-dominant, symptoms of degenerative disease appear and we begin to age rapidly. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Catabolic dominance happens because, as we age, most people become ever more depleted both in the micro-nutrients needed for tissue repair, and in those needed to slow tissue decay ... Intensive micro-nutritional support can slow and even reverse many of the symptoms of ageing.”

That means we can assist the skin, and whole body regeneration process, if we consistently feed ourselves well.
Part of this ageing process can involve a shift towards insulin resistance, where we become less able to control insulin levels. Interestingly, this is thought to be a factor in many skin conditions including psoriasis and rosacea. Acne has even been called ‘skin diabetes’ and insulin used as a treatment. Eating a low GL diet and supplementing chromium could be good if you think this may be a factor for you.

Levels of glucosamine, another key nutrient, drop after forty. It’s needed for connective tissue like skin, so keeping levels up with a hydrochloride supplement might not be a bad idea. A study reported last October in the Journal of Cosmetic Science states: “skin levels of glycosaminoglycans, the main component of which is glucosamine, drop with age, according to the scientists and a growing number of studies support oral administration to improve the appearance of ageing skin.”

Sulphur in the form of MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane) is also a good bet. Sulphur and Vitamin C are the raw materials you make collagen from so it’s far better to give yourself these than expensive collagen supplements or potions. I have seen many skin, hair and nail conditions improve just with this simple combination.

Remember too that our production of stomach acid decreases as we age, which means we don’t absorb as well as we used to. Check and correct this.

To summarise so far, then, for healthy skin we need to stop exposing ourselves to as many free radical producers as we can and increase the levels of the important nutrients, especially antioxidants and those which support the regeneration of tissue like glucosamine. And we need to take steps to make sure we are absorbing them well. With me so far?

Are Your Pipes Clogged or Leaky?
Much of the body’s production of toxins and free radicals comes from our gut so it’s important in any skin care plan to make sure this area of health is tip-top. How many times have we heard that skin is a mirror to our internal health? Think of your bowel walls, lungs and cell membranes as internal tubes, bags and barriers of skin. If problems are going on inside, it’s likely to show up on your external skin too.

Using our factory analogy again, after all those cellular processes, there will inevitably need to be a flush out of waste. Are your waste pipes clear, so to speak? If you think your body could do with a good clear-out, see a local nutritionist who specialises in that. At the very least, give yourself a good diet with none of the main allergens (wheat, dairy, gluten, yeast), drink enough water and give yourself plenty of rest.

One major cause of intolerance linked to skin conditions especially is a leaky gut, where the gut wall (internal skin) has become compromised for some reason and is letting normally-disallowed food proteins, yeast spores, bacteria and toxins through. Sometimes, if the body’s elimination processes are not up to full whack, you will eliminate them through your skin. It is easily tested and corrected. Glutamine is a key nutrient here; it is renowned for nourishing the gut walls.

Dampening The Inflammatory Fire
Skin conditions like dermatitis, rosacea and eczema are inflammatory in nature and free radical damage promotes more inflammation. So, a vital part of skin health is to keep inflammation controlled.

Dr Perricone, a well-known skincare expert who specialises in skin repair and ageing, believes cellular inflammation is key and that topical applications to reduce free radical damage and other causes of inflammation can help.

Essential fatty acids also need to be balanced. Too much Omega 6 and arachidonic acid from meat will promote inflammation, whereas omega 3 from fish oils, nuts and seeds are anti-inflammatory. Many of the antioxidants are also natural anti-inflammatories, including alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10. 

We all know that drinking water helps flush the kidneys and tissues, so it must be good for a clear skin. Make sure your water is filtered and aim to drink at least a litre a day. The Sher skin system took it a step further and promoted the idea that water therapy externally for skin conditions was the way to go. Makes perfect sense to me, I have to say.

Boost Circulation
If hydrating and flushing our skin is important, so is encouraging the lymphatic and blood flow. Skinbrushing and massage are fantastic to detoxify, strengthen, firm and feed your skin. Use a natural facial or body skinbrush rather than exfoliating creams or artificial brushes. Always body-brush towards the heart to boost circulation and always upwards on your face to allay sagging muscles.

Massage is far more effective than any cream you can buy, in my opinion, but if you can combine good massage with nutrient, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich skincare, then you’re onto a winner! It’s well worth learning how to apply products properly to boost circulation instead of just slapping them on willy-nilly. For your face, an appointment with a facialist who practices natural facelift techniques using massage and acupressure would be a good bet. Just try to concentrate on the techniques rather than falling asleep and you can learn yourself. Otherwise, there are excellent techniques you can learn at home.

The 5 Step Plan

Step 1: Clear and Re-nourish

Build a good body foundation by doing a cellular, tissue and organ detox then rebuild by eating loads of fruit and veg (you should be aiming for 10 a day, let alone 5), make sure there are at least three different colours on your plate not including white or brown.

Avoid hydrogenated fats (including fish and chip takeaways), don’t heat nut or seed oils and never eat burned, charred food. Eat plenty of fresh oily fish, nuts and seeds.

Top Tips:
A combination of aloe vera and milk thistle can work wonders. For something more effective, the Nutrigold Detox programme can’t be beaten in my view, but it is best done with support. Use the Carol Vorderman’s Detox For Life diet, customising it for your needs. I usually add some extra eggs and oily fish to keep fatty acids high.

Step 2: Take Radical Action

Sunshine is good for you, but avoid sun damage by using a good non-toxic sunscreen if in it for a while and never burn. Don’t smoke, avoid air pollution if you can ie. don’t exercise near busy roads, use an air filter in your car and home if you need to and choose organic to limit toxins in food, toiletries and cleaning products.

Top Tips:
Try Green People Suncare products; I used them in Africa, got a fab tan and my skin felt very nourished. They supply small samples so you can test first if you need to.

Step 3: Digest and Heal

Correct any absorption or leaky gut problems. Test and eliminate H pylori or candida infection.

Top Tips:
Absorption, leaky gut, candida and H pylori can all be tested from home using a single stool sample. Contact me for more info or to arrange.

Step 4: Targeted Nutrient Power

Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral with plenty of B vitamins and an extra antioxidant product (balanced with your multi) which contains a mix of the key nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin A and/or betacarotene, CoQ10, plant antioxidants like carotenes and flavonoids including green tea, bilberry, pyconogenol or grape seed, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Zinc and Selenium. Take skin-specific anti-inflammatories and collagen builders like Vitamin C, MSM and glucosamine.

Top Tips:
Multivitamin and antioxidant brands include Nutrigold, Solgar, Viridian, Biocare and AOR. I particularly favour AOR Multi Basics 3 and Antioxidant Synergy because they contain the full E Complex rather than simple alpha tocopherol. Get advice if unsure or taking any other meds or supplements.

Step 5: Physical Skincare

Use antioxidant-rich, non-toxic skincare, skinbrush if that suits you and massage to boost lymph and blood flow. Hydrate yourself internally and externally.

Top Tips:
Antioxidant-rich skincare brands: look particularly at CoQ10 and Vitamin A creams (not retinol), Perricone and Environ. The latter two are pricey, but worth it if you’re serious. Massage for the face: try out The Facelift Massage, Kundan & Narendra Metha published by Thorsons or anything by Pierre Jean Cousin or Eva Fraser. For the body, try one of the many self-massage DVDs available.

Tips For Specific Skin Problems

Rosacea: cut out anything that causes flushing like coffee, alcohol, niacin, spicy foods, test for and eliminate Helicobacter pylori infection, make sure you have enough of the B vitamins, especially B2.

Acne: Check and correct androgen (male hormone) levels and insulin resistance, test and treat candida, use calendula for healing and ensure plenty of zinc and B6 if it goes hand in hand with PMS.

Eczema: Oil yourself to maintain your skin barrier, check and correct thyroid problems, try licorice cream to stop the itch, investigate Quercetin as a natural antihistamine.

Premature Ageing: massage skin with almond, avocado and/or carrot oils, use a daily moisturiser with a sunscreen (non-toxic of course), eat a many-coloured diet.

Resources and Links stocks Environ and where you will find a really good animated explanation of free radical damage – Women’s Environmental Network. – Skin Deep from Environmental Working Group

Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd edition, Volume 2, Pizzorno & Murray, published by Churchill Livingstone.

Study of antioxidants, nutrients and glycosaminoglycans on skin: Source: International Journal of Cosmetic Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00513.x

An oral nutraceutical containing antioxidants, minerals and glycosaminoglycans improves skin roughness and fine wrinkles M. Udompataikul, P. Sripiroj and P. Palungwachira

October 2010

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