You don’t need to buy lotions and creams at the drugstore or department store to reduce wrinkles, prevent breakouts, add color and moisture to your skin and/or reduce the uncomfortable and unappealing effects of problems such as oily skin, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
Not only are lotions and creams usually pricey, but they often are laced with potentially toxic and harsh chemicals such as parabens and formaldehyde that have been associated with hormonal disruption and even cancer.
Even if you feel attached to your favorite brand of skin lotion, it might be time to give it up, because there’s a safer and cheaper alternative—and it doesn’t involve anything external.
You can improve your skin naturally—from the inside out—by consuming certain foods and supplements, advised Daily Health News contributing editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND, founder and medical director of Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines in Southbury, Connecticut.
I talked with him to find out exactly which natural foods and supplements can make our skin look and feel great. He started by telling me about a natural potion that you can stir up yourself in your kitchen…
CHICKEN SOUP—THE WRINKLE POTION
Simmer a quartered chicken (skin, bones and all) with some onion, celery, carrots and a bay leaf for two hours in enough water to cover the contents—leave the pot uncovered for the full two hours, which will allow for evaporation and concentrate the liquid. The poultry and vegetables will give up their flavor and nutrients to the remaining water, and after you remove the solids, you’ll be left with a broth rich in hyaluronic acid (HA)—the same substance that we make in our own bodies that provides skin with fullness, volume and plumpness. As we grow older, our bodies produce less HA, which causes our skin to wrinkle and sag, so consuming extra HA may help, said Dr. Rubman. Organic and free-range chickens tend to produce more HA than traditionally-raised chickens because their diets are healthier and they’re allowed to exercise more. Make a big pot of this concentrated chicken broth, and then freeze half and refrigerate half upon cooling. Have a warmed cup every evening before dinner spiced with a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper for extra flavor. Feel free to adjust the recipe with your own choice of herbs and spices, and you’ll still get the benefit. Chicken broth that you buy in a supermarket is just not the same, Dr. Rubman explained, because valuable compounds in the chicken skin and bones don’t make their way into store-bought broths and bouillon cubes. If you find that this soup isn’t helping your skin enough, ask your doctor about taking extra HA in supplement form, Dr. Rubman advised.
ADD COLOR AND MOISTURE
For great skin, be sure to consume enough of vitamins A, D, and E and the mineral zinc. Many people don’t meet the recommended daily requirements, said Dr. Rubman. And that’s too bad, because they can help protect your skin from the aging and cancerous effects of the sun’s UV rays and from damaging environmental irritants, such as exhaust fumes and smog that can make skin dry and dull, he said. Foods high in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots and dark, leafy greens…foods high in vitamin D include salmon, mushrooms and fortified milk…foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts…and foods high in zinc include oysters, low-fat roast beef and lentils. Also, colorful fruits and vegetables are filled with carotenoids, organic pigments that can add color to your skin, giving you a literally healthy glow. (For a whole Daily Health News article on that topic, in particular, read “Eat Your Way to Hottie Status.”) The amount of foods that you should consume depends on how deficient you are. Dr. Rubman told me that if you eat lots of the foods mentioned above and don’t notice any results within a few months, ask your doctor whether it’s a good idea to take daily supplements containing vitamins A, D and E and zinc, as well as a supplement complex that contains mixed carotenes and other carotenoids including lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin.
Plenty of adults get pimples. The best natural defense: Nuts and seeds, which are packed with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that calm systemic and facial inflammation and therefore reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, said Dr. Rubman. Anti-pimple dose: A one-ounce serving per day of almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds. Try the foods first, and if the effect isn’t strong enough within a few months, talk to your doctor about taking both antioxidant and omega-3 supplements, which might amplify the effect, Dr. Rubman advised. Your health-care provider can help you figure out how much you need. If you have a peanut allergy, Dr. Rubman suggests trying algae-sourced omega-3s and food-grade coconut oil for antioxidants. Note that those with a severe preexisting allergy should consult their doctors before introducing any new substance.
RELIEF FOR OILY SKIN, ECZEMA, PSORIASIS & ROSACEA
The skin problems listed above are sometimes signs of poor digestive health, said Dr. Rubman. And one key to healthy digestion is making sure that there’s enough “good” bacteria in your gut. As we grow older, the army of beneficial bacteria that normally crowds out the “bad” bacteria declines, so it doesn’t hurt to “call for backup,” so to speak, in the form of probiotic supplementation, he explained. Eat a healthful diet—whole foods, not processed—because that creates the best environment for healthful bacteria. But probiotics contained in foods, such as yogurts, don’t build up as well as those found in supplements, said Dr. Rubman. He suggests asking your doctor about taking a supplement containing both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which may help restore a proper balance of bacteria in your intestine…and lead to healthier, better-feeling, better-looking skin.