I’m going to start by saying: there are a ton of factors that impact skin health and the purpose of this post is not to share any miracle cures (those don’t exist…sorry ;). But! If you’re already doing the high-impact things to support your health like eating mostly real food and sleeping enough (…and not stressing about being perfect with either), here are five simple tips that have made a really big difference in clearing up my skin.
Focus On Digestion
Let’s start with the most basic: health literally begins in the gut. Hundreds if not thousands of health issues can be caused by poor digestion. Because if your body isn’t breaking down nutrients properly during the digestive process, it can’t use those nutrients. And your skin needs nutrients to thrive. If you need some guidance, here are six ways to improve your digestion naturally.
My digestion was at its worst when I was training for back-to-back marathons in my 20s. Over-stressing my body led to constant bloating and a host of other digestive issues, which led to skin issues. See below for more on over-exercising.
Increase Soluble Fiber and Hydrate
All fiber (in vegetables! fruit! whole grains! nuts!) is great for gut health, but increasing the amount of soluble fiber you consume has can drastically improve skin health. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance which, among other things, helps clear toxins and excess hormones from the body (source). Soluble fiber is found in many foods but some of my high-fiber favorites are legumes (beans and lentils!), oats, psyllium husk, carrots, and flax seeds.
I’ve started incorporating more beans and lentils into my diet and, on days when I don’t eat them, I have one serving of organic psyllium husk mixed in water (mix it and drink it quickly before it gels!).
As always, but especially when increasing your fiber intake, make sure to drink enough water. A general rule of thumb is to consume half of your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water per day. Drink even more than that if you drink caffeine and/or alcohol or sweat a lot during exercise. I use this Hydro Flask to help keep track!
Drink Green Juice (Maybe 😉)
I never fully believe people when they say “x food or drink” changed my skin, but hear me out. I used to be the type of person that always had at least one breakout area (…always made worse by a bad picking habit). I started incorporating green juice into my daily routine about 3-4x per week and, while I can’t say for sure that the juice is a factor, my breakouts just… stopped.
My go-to blender green juice recipe (no juicer needed!) includes some detoxifying ingredients, like parsley (flushes kidneys) and ginger (stimulates circulation) (source) and, if nothing else, will help increase your daily serving of greens and water.
Ok, this one is important but first let’s be clear: in general, regular exercise is great for skin health. But there is a fine line between exercise and over-exercise. As I mentioned above, I used to do a lot of cardio – long-distance running and, once my knee gave out on me ;), several long Peloton rides per week. In the past few years, I’ve started trading in longer cardio sessions for more pilates-type classes (I like Melissa Wood Health and The Pilates Class but there are many options!), yoga, and long walks.
I still love cardio and do it a few times a week but rarely for more than 30 minutes at a time and I swear my stress levels have improved right along with my skin. Turns out there a ton of science behind this. Over-exercising can lead to chronically elevated cortisol levels which can wreak havoc on your health affecting everything from digestion, sleep, weight, and… surprise, surprise: skin. (Source here and here).
Experiment with Non-Toxic Products (But Don’t Go Crazy)
The skin is the body’s largest organ so the ingredients in your beauty products matter. I’m by no means a skincare expert but I know my skin feels better when I don’t overdo it with too many products. Here are a few that I use and love:
- Dr. Bronner’s (daily in the shower)
- Mychelle Sun Shield face sunscreen (daily)
- ILIA Super Serum (almost daily – has sunscreen and hyaluronic acid)
- Beautycounter Countertime Cream and Overnight Resurfacing Peel (one or the other most nights)
- Jojoba Oil to remove makeup and when using the gua sha tool (a few nights a week – jury is still out whether or not this actually helps with wrinkles, but it’s relaxing!)
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