How to Heal Your Skin From the Inside Out this Winter
Ever notice how your skin is amazing in the summer, but temperamental in the winter? With the combination of cold weather and indoor heating systems, winter can wreak havoc on our skin… and is even worse for those with skin issues such as eczema or psoriasis.
When this happens, your first instinct may be to reach for those oils, serums and creams on your top shelf in an attempt to clear a flare-up. But here’s the thing — healthy skin isn’t only about what you put on the outside… a lot of it has to do with what’s happening on the inside of your body.
“Our skin gives us a window into what is happening throughout the rest of the body, namely in our digestive and immune systems,” says naturopathic doctor, Katherine Kremblewski, of Flora Wellness. “That is why it is so important to identify and address the root cause of skin issues, whether it is cyclical (pre-menstrual) acne, eczema or premature aging of the skin.”
Kremblewski notes that skin issues are often times related to gut health concerns. “When your body is not digesting or absorbing food and their vitamins properly, or if there is inflammation occurring in the intestines, your skin will inevitably suffer. That is why topical treatment alone for a condition like eczema, for example, is almost never curative.”
Instead, Kremblewski recommends healing the skin from the inside out by making adjustments to your diet and adding supplements. Should you put these into action, you should see red spots and blotchiness subside first, followed by a decreasing of fine lines. However, if you have suffered from eczema or acne for a long time, your body will need time to heal. “Patience here is key,” she says.
Below, four tips from Katherine on how to heal your skin from the inside out:
1. Drink more water
“For the general population… their water intake is abysmal,” says Katherine. “Your skin will be the last organ to show dehydration, which means that when your skin is taxed, your other organs are also parched.” She recommends drinking 2L of filtered water per day, and increasing that amount with strenuous exercise.
2. Eat your veggies
Vegetables and fruits are full of antioxidants that help prevent damage to the cells of the body, including the skin.
3. Avoid dairy and added/synthetic sugars
Katherine says it’s best to avoid dairy products when dealing with skin issues, as it can cause inflammation which leads to skin breakouts and irritations, especially if you already have a digestive issue. And avoiding added or synthetic sugars will help stabilize blood sugar levels to keep breakouts at bay.
4. Add supplements to your diet
According to Kremblewski, there are certain supplements that are extra important in the winter, both for skin and general health. She recommends the following:
Probiotics: “Winter is the breeding season for colds and flus so we want to make sure we are taking care of our immune system, which is largely located in the digestive tract. And our immune system is directly related to the health of our gut, so making sure to get a good dose of good bacteria is really important,” says Kremblewski, adding immune health also extends to the health of our skin. She recommends sourcing a wide-spectrum probiotic (one with at least 15 human-derived bacterial strains), as yogurt or kefir alone won’t provide your body with enough good bacteria. (Shop: Genuine Health Advanced Gut Health Probiotic 50 Billion CFU, $35.)
Omega-3 Fatty Acid: Not only is omega-3 an important fat for skin, but it’s also great for cognitive, heart and digestive health. “Omega-3 acts like a lubricant in the body, entering the fluid around cells. It could also be dubbed, ‘Dry Skin Be Gone,'” says Kremblewski. You can find omega-3 in small fish like mackerel, sardine and anchovy, as well as in flax and walnut. (Shop: Renew Life Norwegian Gold Critical Omega, $24.)
Collagen: Collagen, which is responsible for the plump and youthful appearance of skin (and also plays a role in the major joints of the body), is an “obsession” of Kremblewski’s mainly because of its amazing results, both clinically and from a research perspective. It can be taken as a supplement to improve the smoothness of skin and is a great way to provide the proper building blocks for dermal repair. (Shop: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, $55.)
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is imperative during the colder months as the lack of sunlight (and therefore a lack of vitamin D) can cause seasonal affective disorder, which can manifest into increased anxiety and depression. In addition, vitamin D contributes to bone, immune and skin health. Kremblewski recommends aiming for 1000IU per day. (Shop: Well Told Health Vitamin D Booster, $36.)