Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Educational Tips on Healthy and Disease Free Skin

Dr. Preeti Savardekar, Consultant Dermatologist and Cosmetologist with Academic Inclination and Unique Holistic Healing Methods Appreciated at Celebrity and International Fronts

Published: Oct 11, 2021 03:37:11 PM IST
Updated: Oct 11, 2021 03:39:21 PM IST

Educational Tips on Healthy and Disease Free Skin

The Skin is the largest and fastest growing organ of the human body. It is almost 2 square meters in length and Hair and Nails are extensions of the skin. The Skin is the first thing we notice when we meet someone and hence forms an integral part of our personality. It can be the source of our confidence and can boost morale, or it can make us conscious and affect our self esteem in case it is tarnished or has imperfections.

The brain and the skin develop at the same time and from the same germ layer in the embryonic ectoderm and are affected by the same hormones and neurotransmitters. Ingram states - The skin is an extension of the mind and therefore is an essential part of Character and Personality assessment (1933). The Skin shows expressions of psychophysiological disturbances and responds to emotions- we see blushing and perspiration when there is anxiety. We see pallor and goose bumps (raised hair on skin) during fear, we see redness or flushing during anger and we see pink cheeks and glow with happiness.

The need of the current era (depending upon different age) is youthful appearance, well preserved features, enhancement of features, symmetry, glow, reduction of pigmentation, reduction of scars and poise.

There are multiple skin issues that can be genetic, caused by nutritional deficiencies, acquired from environmental or occupational exposures and of course stress related or self inflicted. Hormone imbalances can lead to abnormal pigmentation, excessive hair growth and acne outbursts in adults and teenagers due to increased release of Adrenal Androgens. Sleep disturbances can cause pigmentation, ageing and hair fall.

In certain skin concerns, only medications are not enough to heal, the skin needs good circulation, good nutrition, regular relaxation and a stress free mind. When a good healthy lifestyle is followed, it can lead to Healthy and Disease free skin. Let's see how we can do that.

Regular Exercise- DIY Daily
Being physically active helps increase circulation, improves hair growth and gives the skin a natural glow. Even just a walk, dancing at home with your headphones, skipping or jogging are simple and easy to do exercises to get your body and skin in a good state. Sedentary lifestyle gives sluggish circulation and may cause leg edema and dermatitis.

Tip: Climbing up and down the stairs when possible is the best when other exercise is not possible.

Stress Management

When the mind is at peace, there is a balance in hormones released in the body. Hormones are a regulatory secretion produced by the glands in the human body and these stimulate specific cells or tissues into action. Hormones assure regular functioning of all the systems. Yoga, Meditation Massage, playing your favorite Sport, listening to Music all release happy hormones. These can lead to clarity in decision making, glowing skin, good growth of hair and good energy levels in the body. There is definite truth in the quote: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

Nutritious Foods and Snacks

Including healthy fats like Nuts and Seeds in your diet will regulate body weight, regulate food intake and help burn energy. They are good sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Walnuts, Almonds, Avocado, Coconut and Apricots are to be consumed daily in moderate quantities and Flaxseeds, Chia seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds and Sesame seeds go well in the roasted form in salads or as a seed mix which can be had in the evening.

High quality proteins in the diet like Lean Meat, Egg whites, Pulses and Lentils form the building blocks of cells of Skin Hair and Nails. They also help to reduce sugar cravings and late night snacking, boost metabolism, maintain weight, reduce appetite and of course increase muscle mass and strength. Every meal of the day should include some protein content.

A colorful variety of salads like Carrot, Beetroot Tomato, Purple cabbage and Fruits like Plums and Peaches, Pineapple, Strawberries and Cherries help to supply different  nutrients like Vitamin A, E and fiber for digestive system cleansing and toxin release. Vitamin D3 containing foods like Egg yolks, Liver, Red meat and oily Fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel play an integral role in skin protection and rejuvenation. Vitamin D3 enhances the skins immunity and destroys free radicals that cause premature ageing.

Tip: Eat fresh, unprocessed foods and consider organic options. Fruits like Mulberry, Prune and Olives are good sources of Iron and antioxidants. Citrus juices or citrus fruits containing Vitamin C help us enhance Iron absorption.

Food Facts – Myths Busted

•    Preservatives and chemicals in processed foods disrupt the balance of hormones hence affecting skin ageing, hair fall and mood changes.
•    Growth hormones in dairy and animal products bind to our hormone receptors and block body's naturally occurring hormones resulting in excess hormone in circulation- leading to imbalance in men and women.
•    Steroid hormones in fat present in Meat and Dairy products also block body's hormones from binding to receptors in the GI Tract resulting in excess hormones in circulation.
Tip: When we see symptoms of hormone imbalance, it would be a good idea to change the diet first and then start hormonal medications.
•    Iron absorption can be hampered by foods and antacid medications.
•    Foods containing Polyphones, like tea & coffee, cocoa powder & berries, Phytates like whole grains & legumes, or Calcium like milk or dairy products can decrease the amount of Iron absorbed at a meal.

Tip: Prune juice made from dried plums or prunes give 3mg or 17% of iron and do not cause a rapid hike in blood sugar levels like the other citric juices. Have it mid meal without any other foods for best availability and absorption of Iron.

•    Good sources of Iron are Red Meat, Shell fish, Poultry and Fish. A good idea is to have dates or apricots or jaggery based deserts rather than chocolate. (For those who need to increase their Hemoglobin/ iron to reduce hair fall and pigmentation)
•    Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach, however not everyone can tolerate it if taken in the morning. Hence, they are best taken 2 hours after your evening snack or after morning breakfast. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and counteracts the effects of phytates.

Tip : Cooking in Iron cookware can add Iron to your diet.

(Beauty) Sleep
A good night’s sleep helps balance the hormones, improves brain function, controls weight and mental well being thus improving the quality and appearance of skin. This prevents development of fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and open pores. Melotonin hormone (sleep hormone) stimulates free radical scavenging which is helpful in anti aging. It promotes DNA repair and replication and increases REM sleep. Women need 1 -2 hours of more sleep than men.

Tip: Get your daily dose of sleep- 6 to 8 Hours at night.

Pleasures or Pain ?

Alcohol gives pleasurable effects as it increases the release of endorphin hormones. However, this is short lived and actually acts as a depressant to the Central Nervous System, knocks down the production of Testosterone hormone and can derail menstrual cycles in women. Many alcoholic drinks have sugar added after distillation making them very high in sugar content. Some act like a toxin and take a toll on the liver to get metabolized. There are pure spirits like Whiskey, Gin, Rum and Vodka which do not have carbs, fat or sugar, however if mixed with aerated drinks, lead to weight gain and dehydration of the skin. It is best to consume alcohol in moderation and avoid it during pregnancy months.

Tip: Avoid alcohol within 4 hours of bedtime.

Smoking releases nicotine in the blood which is a highly addictive stimulant. Nicotine slows down the body's ability to heal itself by decreasing blood flow and increasing inflammation. Smoking causes breakdown of elastic fibers, narrowing of blood vessels and production of free radicals and reduced levels of Vitamin A in the skin. Short term effects of smoking on the skin and mucous membranes include yellowing of the fingers and nails, discoloration of teeth, and darkening of the tongue. When smoking continues for many years, there is dryness of skin, pigmentation around eyes and on cheeks, under eye bags and ageing showing lines and wrinkles.

Tip: Smoking can be done in moderation and is to be avoided 4 hours before bedtime.
As often observed, nutritional deficiencies can be the cause of poor healing or recurring skin concerns, hair fall and nail inconsistencies. Hence, we need to get a better understanding of foods we are eating and learn to increase the vitamins and nutrients in our diet. Improper or poor absorption of certain vitamins can be corrected by a better choice of foods and separating the time of ingestion of the same.
Skin Routine to Follow – To a New YOU

Apply your sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body. It's not only the sun; UV Light from gadgets and computers also causes tanning and early photo aging. There are water based, oil based and silicone based matt sunscreens available. Apply a thin layer from forehead to neck, also on arms. Sunscreens are the clothes we wear on the face, which brand are you wearing?

Tip: Remember to reapply 3 -4 hourly for protection and best results.

Use a gentle face wash rather than soap if you spend more than 8 hours in an air-conditioned environment. Body wash is gentler and hydrates ageing skin. Soap dries the skin due to its alkalinity and can cause dryness, scaly patches or darkening of the skin over the years. Dry skin looks dull and lifeless. Glowing skin is possible when it is hydrated well, internally and externally.

Moisturizers are available aplenty, and can be used on dry skin after shower and reapplied at night. Oily skin on the face can do without a moisturizer, directly apply sunscreen. Dry skin on the face needs a moisturizer first then followed by a sunscreen.

A night cream on the face rejuvenates and recovers the oxidation in the cells, reverses free radical damage from pollution and light exposure. Depending upon the skin type, concerns and needs, you can choose a lightening or an anti- ageing or just a moisturizing night cream. If using moisturizer also, it can be applied on top of the night cream to hydrate the skin.

Of course, when you visit a Dermatologist, they can tailor the treatment according to your need after a detailed history and examination. Different procedures are available that can hasten the results to be achieved faster. You can overcome any misperceptions or barriers to treatments available after discussing the advantages and disadvantages with the dermatologist. Teleconsultation has made life easier as you can connect to any doctor across the city or different states. It's always good to get a different perspective or a second opinion to give new ideas and new ways of treating the concerns.

Every day is a new beginning. All of us have opportunities and we must be ready to recognize them. It's never too late to change our ways, our routines and our habits. Our subconscious mind is very powerful; it guides us and rules our behavior. Our thoughts can become things. You can choose what affects you. It's good to learn how to give refined responses to things happening in our environment rather than reacting to them. This is important because with every situation of emotional stress, our body releases hormones which can cause havoc giving rise to Lifestyle diseases (Hypertension, Diabetes, Thyroid) which indirectly cause stress and ageing to our Skin Hair & Nails.

So, it’s necessary to bring clarity to our mind, learn to priorities. Meditate. We need to use our mental energy towards things that are beneficial to us. When we will change our mind, our life will change too. Cheers for a healthy skin and a disease free body!
A cup of coffee reduces iron absorption from a hamburger meal by 39% and 64% reduction occurs with Tea, a potent inhibitor of iron absorption. Milk, Calcium supplements and Antacids should NOT be taken at the same time as your iron supplements. At least 2 hours gap is needed so that the iron is taken well in your GI Tract.  Chocolate, Berries and Beer contain Oxalates which impair the absorption of iron.

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