Did you know that your skin is one of the most important organs of your body? Based on surface area and weight, it’s also one of the largest organs. By definition, an organ is a self-contained group of tissues that performs a specific function in the body. The major function of the skin is protection, along with regulation, sensation, and absorption.
Skin provides the physical barrier between our bodies and the outside world, protecting us from mechanical impacts and pressures, toxins, temperature variations, microorganisms, radiation, and chemicals. It helps regulate body temperature, fluid balance and changes in the peripheral circulation. It detects and relays changes (such as heat, cold, touch, and pain) and provides the reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D made from cholesterol.
Taking care of our skin should be a priority all year long, not just when we’re at the beach. One way to show gratitude for our skin’s protection is to reciprocate by protecting it. Protecting our skin starts with the same good habits which have been shown to improve health. The basic protocol is based on providing your body with proper nutrition and hydration, obtaining adequate exercise and restorative sleep, periodically detoxifying your body and avoiding toxins.
One of my mantras is to never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. Any harmful substance absorbed through the skin must be detoxified by the liver and kidneys, the body’s filtration organs. Be aware that most skin products contain multiple toxins, chemicals, dyes, and artificial fragrances. Check out the Healthy Living App by The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) to find the safest skin products. Also, don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when cleaning so you don’t absorb products into your body through your skin.
Understanding how the skin is constructed allows us to gain insight into the health of tissues that can’t be seen. Skin is made up of epithelial cells like those in the intestines, the other organs of the body and the eyes. Skin problems often reflect problems in the intestinal lining in which nutrients aren’t being properly absorbed (i.e. leaky gut.) Special supplements formulated with predigested enzymes can be used in these cases to help with digestion, nutrient absorption, and intestinal repair.
A proper balance of hormones is essential for keeping skin healthy and young looking. When talking about hormones to both male and female patients, I frequently hear, “Oh Doc, don’t worry about that. I don’t have hormones anymore!” Then I remind them that if they didn’t have ANY hormones they wouldn’t be having this conversation because they wouldn’t be alive. In today’s chemically-laden world, both men and women suffer from imbalanced hormones.
Scar tissue is a type of fibrosis caused by an injury or disease process that alters the skin. Fibrosis can extend through muscles, organs or the brain, eventually contracting, shrinking and strangling these tissues. Many types of fibrosis are exacerbated by excess estrogen. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 2012) “Estrogen Exacerbates Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms” explains why women with cystic fibrosis tend to fare worse than men.
Properly balanced hormones, especially progesterone and testosterone, contribute to health as well as the appearance of healthy skin. When I refer to progesterone, I’m talking about natural progesterone, not synthetic progestin (norethindrone or norethynodrel) that are associated with an increased potential for cancer.
To understand the significance of progesterone to the skin, imagine how a woman’s skin adapts to her changing body during pregnancy. The average production of progesterone for a non-pregnant woman is 20 mg/day. In the second trimester of pregnancy, this number goes to 400 mg/day. Despite her skin radically stretching to accommodate her rapidly changing shape, a healthy pregnant woman’s skin typically looks radiant and healthy.
The layer of tissue holding the skin to the muscle is called fascia. Fascia is a single sheet of ultra-thin tissue that runs throughout the body covering all of our organs. Fascia has little tuffs that hold up the skin like pillars that absorb water so the skin can maintain its wrinkle-free appearance. If these fascia pillars become wrapped in toxic polymers, they can’t absorb water and collapse which causes wrinkles.
Fascia has a network of tiny tubes called, tubules which have concentrated oxygen levels to help muscles and tissues breathe and function at higher levels. Blood vessels are made of the fascia. If you have bruising, spider veins, or varicose veins, it may be a warning that you’re at risk for other problems. When the blood vessels you can see are breaking (capillary fragility) this usually means the ones you can’t see are also at risk of breaking. Capillary fragility in organs such as the heart or brain may be a prelude to a heart attack or stroke. Fascia does even more interesting things but that is a discussion for another day — or at my workshop on May 23!
What else should you know? The most important vitamins for skin are the antioxidants A, C, D, and E (obtained from fruits and vegetables). Be sure to consume adequate levels of zinc (pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, cocoa powder), Omega-3 fatty acids (wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, hempseeds), bone broth (collagen), vitamin K (green leafy vegetables, fish, liver, meat, eggs), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B7 (biotin) and B12 (cobalamin). Include foods such as wild-caught salmon, non-GMO whole grains, avocados, free range chicken and eggs. Avoid sugars. Eat organic when possible. Practice good hygiene. Get fresh air and sunshine. Take whole food supplements free of chemicals and synthetic ingredients.
In my office, we utilize cold laser and a chiropractic instrument called a percussor to help break down scars and repair skin. Our Erchonia ionic footbath assists the liver, kidneys, and skin by helping with detoxification. The PEMF aids circulation and increases energy in the cells. And last, but not least, the chiropractic adjustment maximizes communication between the brain, the gut, and the body.
Remember that the care you give your body — today and every day — will soon be reflected in your beautiful skin!