Inner Reflections
August 15, 2022

Holistic Skin Journey

The concept that skin is a mirror of my internal health has been present for me for many years.  And there is so much recent research to show that the health of your skin is connected to the health of your gut.  Having suffered from acne intermittently for multiple decades, I am familiar with the frustrations of acne – especially of dealing with acne as an adult.  The condition has left me looking for answers for the health of my skin and prompted me to find holistic solutions.

For many years I relied on Western medicine to solve my acne – going to multiple dermatologists who each had a medication recommendation or chemical peels.  The combination of medications and chemical peels seemed to manage my breakouts and keep them at bay. 

But I always had an eye turned towards holistic and alternative medicine.  And I always wondered how diet and stress played a role in my acne.  I read multiple books and applied what I learned; however, my acne was persistent.  

The opinion among medical doctors at the time was that there was no link between acne and diet.  I never truly believed that diet was not a vital component… however, an authority figure such as a dermatologist claiming multiple times through different providers that “diet had no role in my acne” led me to wonder.  

The fact is most medical doctors practicing today have little to no education in nutrition while in medical school.  This is a core issue within the world of Western medicine today.  Many providers simply just do not know.  And so, it leaves individuals searching for answers and solutions.  Thankfully there are many more resources today – the two providers that have helped me discover alternative solutions to manage my acne have been Naturopathic Physicians and Functional Medicine Providers.  Through the years I have noticed that the four practices that have made the most difference have been nutrition, hydration, stress management, and sleep.

Nutrition and gut health have been central to the acne journey for me.  I have modified my diet multiple times in hopes of resolving my acne.  Some years ago, I gave up most forms of dairy, with some minor improvements but continued breakouts.  I went entirely plant-based for almost two years and continued to have acne.  My ongoing acne was a signal to me that something was off balance internally.  

What I have learned is that the simpler I keep my diet the better I feel and the better my overall health is.  The simple rules of eating foods in their whole forms, eating good quality healthy fats, and avoiding most processed foods have been the most transformative for my journey. If food is from a clean source, it is less likely to cause issues in my body.

Staying properly hydrated has been paramount to the health of my skin as well.  Getting adequate water helps the body flush out toxins and helps the kidneys perform their job.  Did you know that drinking one-half ounces of water per pound of body weight is recommended?  For example, if you weigh 150 lbs you should drink 75 oz of water per day.  So…be sure to drink up!

Sleep has also been key in my journey.  Getting eight hours of shut eye is literal beauty sleep.  I have noticed breakouts and changes in my skin with back-to-back nights of poor sleep.  The book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker was transformative in developing an even deeper understanding of the importance of having good sleep hygiene.

My yoga practice has helped me to process and manage stress for many years.  I have practiced since the start of my university days, 20 years ago.  Having a daily meditation and movement practice helps me to manage stress with a “rinse cycle” – letting go of thoughts and stories that are not enriching my life.

In summary, my go-tos for healthy skin have been addressing overall health-boosting factors of nutrition, hydration, stress management, and sleep.  So, if you’re looking to make changes, keep it simple.  Start small.  Focus on one major change at a time!  

Below are some recommended practices for stress management and sleep:

Restorative Yoga Lauren Eckstrom

Yin Yoga Travis Eliot

power yoga lauren eckstrom

Yin Yoga

By Christine