7 Tips to Supercharge Your Skin Health This Summer

Summer is upon us (apparently) and with the hope of the sun shining and the Deia Health Retreat coming up this September, I wan tto shine the spotlight on skin health!

As a GP I see a range of skin conditions in clinic from rashes to rosacea and moles to vitiligo. The skin is the largest organ in the body and works so had for us every day! It's the barrier between us and our environment, protecting us from harm, microorganisms, dehydration, UV light and so much more. It regulates our temperature, detects infections and is a HUGE sensory organ detecting touch, pain and temperature. Skin is AMAZING!

What always blows my mind is how many underlying health conditions can be detected through the skin PCOS (acne), thyroid disease  & menopause (dryness & itching), autoimmune problems like coeliac (rashes) and vitiligo (pale patches) not to mention all the viral & bacterial rashes. I could go and on (don't worry I won't haha)!

Skin is also deeply impacted by our lifestyle which is why focusing on the pillars of health is so important. In my clinic we use a holistic approach to all health conditions closely looking at factors such as stress, diet, gut health, exercise, sleep and toxins. It's so important to get to the root cause of things rather than just sticking a plaster on the symptom.

So here are my top tips on skin health and how you can use lifestyle medicine approach to keep your skin in tip top condition this summer!

1. HYDRATION: An obvious one but I still see so many patients walking around dehydration. How much? There really is no evidence for the 2L water a day recommendation so just drink enough to make sure your urine is pale yellow. Dry lips, dry or sunken skin and dark urine are tell tale signs you need more!

2. EXERCISE: So many benefits but when it comes to the skin such improved blood flow, stimulation of collagen, and cell turnover - out with the old and in with the new! Sweating also helps to flush out toxins, stress hormones and is a great stress reliever.

3. NUTRITION: Following a whole foods, plant-based diet (rich in fresh, wholefoods, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and wholegrains and don't forget the healthy fats and proteins too). This will ensure that you're getting all the antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients your skin needs, think colour and variety. But there's more, growing research is showing the importance of the gut microbiome in skin health. Enter the gut-skin axis!

4. GUT HEALTH: Those gut bugs play a super important role in taking care of our gut (the gateway to the immune system) and switching off inflammation in the body. So keep them happy! Feed your gut with a range of prebiotic foods, whole-foods, plant based as above (they feed the gut bugs) And don't forget the ferments: kimchi, kombucha, kraut & keffir. These are probiotic foods that contain live organisms.

5. SLEEP: Tired of looking so tired? Night owl's I'm looking at YOU! Prioritise your sleep and get your glow back (and if you're having problems with your sleep come see me ;-)). A lack of sleep can impact the immune system as well as collagen production. While we sleep our brain takes a shower, flushing away toxins, repairing DNA and supporting new cell production. Sleep is the skin's super power!

6. STRESS: When you’re stressed, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body. They cause changes to the blood flow in the skin and can over time can impair the immune system making you vulnerable to skin diseases such as urticaria (hives rashes), vitiligo (an autoimmune condition (loss of skin colour), common infections and worsening of conditions such as acne and rosacea. Prioritising stress reduction is key in reversing and treating such diseases (as is working on gut health) which we do a lot at Deia.

7. SUNLIGHT: Everyone needs some sun exposure to produce Vitamin D and getting outside is a great way to reap the benefits of being in nature but be mindful that over-exposure to harmful UV rays can damage the skin and cause cancers. Take care over the summer to protect your skin by using an SPF and wearing protective glasses/clothing/hats when in direct sunlight. Don't forget your ears, hands and feet and if you have any concerns about moles that are changing in size, shape, colour or sensation, or have a new dark streak on one of your nails, always see your doctor!

Let us know if you have any questions or comments on what you'd like to see on the blog next month!