I’ve covered so many different parts of the body; it blows my mind that I have yet to cover the skin (I mean it is the largest organ composing 16% of total body weight and 16-22 square feet!). It does deserve attention as we spend so much money on skin care and are all looking for the magic cure for young looking skin without the wrinkling and sagging and spend boo-coo bucks to have our skin tucked, pulled, stapled and whatever other crazy schemes they can come up with. Like most things, skin health care can be taken care of with a good nutrient-dense diet. What is the function of skin?
- Separates and informs us of our surroundings
- Cushion and protect deeper tissues
- Excrete wastes
- Regulate temperature (above 98.6 initiates sweating and below this either vasoconstricts, ceases sweating, shivering increased heat in the muscles, or secretion of norepinephrine, epinephrine and thyroxine to increate heat production)
- Vitamin D
- Attachment site for sensory receptors that detect pain, sensation, pressure, and temperature
There are 3 layers of skin: epidermis (waterproof with horn cells; the hair and pores let sweat and oil out), dermis (connective tissue like collagen that make the skin stretchy yet also resists wrinkles) and subdermis (connective and fatty tissue that provide insulation, store energy and anchor the skin down). Interestingly the skin is also absorbent, so vitamins and such can be taken in topically, unfortunately so can toxins so be careful of applying anything to the skin that contains steroids or hormones. What about vitamins and minerals for the skin, since we’ve covered them exclusively?
- Vitamin A is important for repair (i.e. sunburn and such) and increases the thickness of the epidermis. Interestingly rough, dry, prematurely aged skin is a sign of vitamin A deficiency and those with severe acne usually have low levels of the vitamin, as well.
- Vitamin D is a major contributor to cell metabolism and growth
- Zinc can help control the production of oil in the skin and is a co-factor of vitamin-A utilization
- Iron supports a rosy glow
- Selenium helps tissue elasticity and protects against free radical damage
Hmm all these things are coincidently found in red meat, liver, and seafood. Bet those vegetarians don’t have the same silky, glowing, smooth skin as those traditional people found by Dr. Weston A. Price? The skin is dependent on protein from animal products, as a matter of fact. The sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine are especially helpful. They help with the health of connective tissue, joints, hair, skin and nails. Cysteine is found in beta-keatin, which is the main protein in nails, skin, and hair, and helps with the skin’s elasticity and texture. Arachidonic Acid (also found in meat) is a precursor to prostaglandin PGE2 and regulates the permeability of the skin barrier, and strengthens it against environmental assaults and prevents excessive losses of water. This is all pretty impressive, but it just shows you don’t have to spend a fortune on face creams, but skin care starts by what you put in your mouth (a diet that is rich in fat-soluble vitamins for starters and in minerals). *Note: think you need to wash all the time? Think again soap actually depletes the body’s natural protection and removes beneficial microorganisms. For more on our fat-burner weight-loss programs check out our website at bodychange.net.