We all want our bodies to work well. We want shiny flowing hair, clear radiant skin, and muscles that keep us moving forward. It sounds so simple, but it’s hard to get just right. Luckily, we can learn to listen to what our bodies are saying (sometimes screaming) to us as a way to guide us toward this ideal.
Many of us have common issues that we simply tolerate, thinking that we’re just built a certain way. I thought my scalp was just going to be dry and flaky forever (until I switched to using natural shampoo). But if we look at our body as a garden, we see that we can choose to weed, plant healthy nutritious plants, water as required, and allow the sun to shine in a way that brings out the best we have to offer.
Some common issues include:
- dry skin
- rosacea or eczema
- hair loss
- dry scalp
- wrinkles or signs of premature aging
Let’s work together to weed out the poisonous plants from our personal gardens and plant beautiful flowers in their place!
Big things to consider:
- nourishing our bodies with nutrient-dense real foods
- avoiding topical toxins
- moving our muscles regularly
- sleeping well
- removing and managing stress
Unfortunately, gardening is not easy. It takes experimentation, time, effort, and love. Today, I’ll focus on the very difficult topic of nourishing our bodies.
The base to a thriving garden is the soil quality, filled with tiny microbes that keep things humming along smoothly. Similarly, our gut (which is also teeming with microbial life) is the soil of our body’s garden. The foundation to a healthy body starts with eating real foods that provide the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fats that our bodies need. I described our personal journey to whole foods, but I want to provide some specific information on deficiencies that may be related to common issues many of you have discussed with me.
Vitamin A (retinol)
- function: great for helping clear acne and psoriasis by promoting epidermal differentiation, modulating dermal growth factors, and inhibiting sebaceous gland activity
- foods to eat: liver and cod liver oil, kidney, butter from pastured cows, and yolks from pastured chickens
- function: treats acne by acting as a component of retinol-binding protein to transport vitamin A to the blood
- foods to eat: kidney, liver, beef, lamb, oysters, scallops, and shellfish
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- function: helps with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and rosacea by decreasing inflammation and insulin-like growth factors
- foods to eat: sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies, and black cod
- function: aids in preventing hair loss, dandruff, as well as red and inflamed areas around the mouth and other areas of the face and scalp by acting as an essential co-factor for the enzyme that regulates fatty acid metabolism. Fatty acids in the skin protect the cells against damage and water loss.
- foods to eat: egg yolks from pastured chickens, liver, romaine lettuce, almonds, and walnuts
- function: aids in skin firmness which helps prevent wrinkles because sulphur is a component of collagen synthesis. Inadequate collagen or collagen breakdown in the skin leads to wrinkles.
- foods to eat: egg yolks from pastured chickens, meat, poultry, fish, garlic, onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, and kale
- function: helps to prevent wrinkles and premature aging by aiding in protein functions that deposit calcium in the correct location in the body
- foods to eat: butter from pastured cows, egg yolks from pastured chickens, liver, and fermented foods
- function: coats and protects our skin’s surface and is a known anti-inflammatory agent that can help atopic dermatitis and psoriasis
- foods to eat: spinach, turnip greens, chard, sunflower seeds, almonds, bell peppers, asparagus, collards, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts
Many deficiencies are associated with poor bioavailability. We might be eating the right things, but our bodies can’t find or utilize the nutrients! Bioavailability refers to how readily our bodies can use the nutrients in our food. Some foods have nutrients that are more bioavailable than others.
Foods with high bioavailability:
- organ meat
- meat, wild game, and poultry
- fish and shellfish
- nuts and seeds (some people have issues with these due to the nutrient inhibitors and anti-nutrients in many of them that impair absorption or irritate the gut)
As always, please be mindful of where these foods come from, how the animals are raised, and how the veggies are grown.
Eating refined sugars, flours, and industrial seed oils can promote inflammation, which is the underlying cause of many skin issues and allergies. (Here’s a rule of thumb that I’ve found helpful: if it is packaged by someone other than me, question it closely and lean toward not eating it.)
Keeping a food calendar has been extremely helpful for me (I just print out free calendars from the internet). I use a pink pen to write in when I eat out, eat something different, have alcohol, or consume excess chocolate (which I do all too often) and a green pen for when I break out, have a headache, have an especially moody day, etc. I also note other things that have seemed important in the past (e.g., when I start my cycle). Having the calendar has significantly helped me identify problem foods and trends associated with those foods. If you are having problems and are unsure of what might be causing them, consider keeping notes and see if you can link issues to any specific foods.
We just went over a lot about what things are beneficial to take INTO our bodies. Now, what about what we put ON our bodies? Does that matter at all?
Straight from Wikipedia: “Skin absorption is a route by which substances can enter the body through the skin. Along with inhalation, ingestion and injection, dermal absorption is a route of exposure for toxic substances and route of administration for medication.”
So, if we’re going through all the work to eat well, it makes sense to also limit our exposure to toxins through other routes. But that’s enough for one sitting. We’ll catch up on the topical stuff someday soon, I promise!
Note: This post is based on personal experience. I am not a doctor or health care professional. Please consider starting your food journey by doing research and talking to a health care provider (especially if you have specific health issues). But also remember that we started our journey when the “common path” wasn’t working for us.
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