Why Skin is Our Magic Mirror

I learned about skin the hard way… I had hives and eczema as a child, acne as a teen, and rosacea later in life. My skin was terribly fickle, and after some trials and tribulations, a holistic approach is what finally turned my health around. I didn’t know as a child that my journey was laying the foundation for me to stumble upon a secret that I’m now sharing with others: that our skin is like a magic mirror, offering clues about a person’s internal health.

Here are five no-nonsense holistic concepts I’ve discovered about skin and how it functions like a magic mirror.

1. Skin offers clues about what’s happening within your body.

Your skin is your largest organ, and it provides great message about your digestion, hormones, blood sugar, immune system, and other body systems that are out of balance. If you address skin symptoms superficially by suppressing them, then you’ll miss out on an opportunity to heal your body on a deeper level.

What is your skin trying to tell you? If it’s dry, then you may need to drink more water or eat healthier fats. If you have acne along your jawline, you may have hormonal imbalances.  

2. It’s important to find the underlying problem.

Many conventional prescriptions for dermatologic issues do not address underlying factors. While they can make a symptom go away by suppressing it, these medications can have unwanted side effects and they’re often quickly used as a band-aid approach. When you, instead, address the root cause, you can clear up skin issues while optimizing health overall.

What root causes are holding you back from clear glowing skin? I find there are 6 root causes behind most skin concerns: hormonal disturbances, gut issues, oxidative damage concerns, internal inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies. Each of these creates physiologic changes that show up on our skin.

3. Skin has a delicate pH and microbiome balance.

Skin naturally has a mildly acidic environment and balance of microorganisms that helps keep it free of blemishes and breakouts and prevents premature aging. When you apply treatments and products to your skin with harmful ingredients, it can disturb your skin’s delicate pH balance and skin microbiome. If, on the other hand, you use products that support your skin’s natural pH and a healthy growth of microorganisms, you can enjoy clear youthful-looking skin, naturally.

4. What you eat shows up on your skin.

An increasing amount of research supports that what we eat affects skin health. For example, a 2014 study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology suggests eating foods with a high glycemic index (GI), such as refined carbohydrates, plays a role in the development of acne. Research published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology also suggests skim milk can trigger acne. On the other hand, foods you eat can nourish skin from the inside out. For example, consuming omega-3 fatty acids and gamma linolenic acids (GLAs) may help reduce acne breakouts, according to a 2014 study published in the international journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica.

5. Products you put on your skin affect you on a deeper level.

Many skin care products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and some have been linked to cancer. What you apply to your skin does not just remain on the surface but can actually be absorbed into our bloodstream. These chemicals can then create imbalances, leading to problems with thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormone function. According to the Endocrine Society, EDCs are associated with fertility issues, breast development, breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid disease, neuroendocrine problems, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. So, it’s important to start looking more carefully at the ingredients in your personal care products, and replace them with natural and organic ingredients that promote glowing skin without the toxic effects.

Instead of covering up and suppressing skin issues, try taking a deeper look. If you can identify the underlying cause of common skin problems, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and premature aging, then it’s easier to address it through a healthy diet, lifestyle, and more integrative approach.

Dr. Trevor Cates was the first women licensed as a naturopathic doctor in the state of California and was appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council. Known as the “Spa Doctor,” Dr. Cates sees patients at world-renowned spas and in her Park City, Utah private practice with a focus on anti-aging, hormone balance and glowing skin. Find out more details on how to achieve glowing, radiant skin in her book Clean Skin From Within.

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