Skincare is a $150 billion industry in the U.S. alone, with an unfathomable number of products developed to protect, tighten, smooth and treat our body’s largest and most visible organ.
by Dr. Hojat Askari, Medical Director, Thumb Butte Medical Center
Most of these do benefit your skin in one way or another, keeping it hydrated and nourished or treating acne, eczema, or other conditions that arise. But in many cases, they’re trying to undo the damage done by the environments we live in or the way we take care of ourselves.
We make choices every day that affect our skin health just as much as our overall health, and the best choices for your heart, lungs, digestion, muscles, bones, and everything else will most likely benefit your complexion, too.
Take fried foods, for example. They’re a delight to eat but the consequences often just aren’t worth it. The fat (often including trans fats), calories, and sodium raise your bad cholesterol and risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
They also do a number on your skin, specifically, because the oils they contain lead to inflammation throughout the body. This shows up in your skin as dehydration and slower healing of wounds.
Other inflammatory foods do affect your skin, including sugary and fatty foods, refined carbohydrates, as well as excessive amounts of alcohol.
Lack of physical activity also shows up everywhere in your body. Your weight, triglycerides, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease go up. Excess body fat triggers hormone imbalances that can trigger acne and aggravate other skin conditions. It also creates cellulite as the buildup of fat and tissue below the skin pushes against and breaks skin’s connective tissue.
Sun exposure may be the one exception as something that greatly benefits your insides while posing possible dangers for your skin. The safest way to get vitamin D and other positive impacts from the sun is to seek midday sun a few times per week for about 20 minutes, then apply sunscreen or move indoors.