What’s the skin’s number one enemy? You can probably think of three things right off the top of your head like maybe alcohol, smoking, sun, etc. These are all great answers but on a whole the real root of the problem is inflammation. It not only affects us internally but here’s why it’s important to your skin as well.

Let’s do a quick review what this word really means. It’s a natural process our body uses as a built-in defense system to protect us. So chemically it responds with your body’s white blood cells to battle invaders and then after it heals the inflammation goes down. This is what leads to the increase in blood flow to that area of infection or injury/swelling.

The problem is when it doesn’t go down. What that means is something in the system is not in balance and needs to be treated. Other environmental causes such as lack of sleep, stress, pollution, etc. can all lead to inflammation as well. In turn, that increase of white blood cells or other substances can put your body out of balance, which leads to inflammation in your body and/or the skin. The low-level, chronic inflammation can affect anywhere in your body and that can cause arthritis, heart disease, lung and kidney disease. Pay attention to your skin as that can be your first signal that something could be going on.

As your stress rises so does the stress hormone, cortisol. This, in turn, leads to inflammation. When the diet is high in refined sugar, fried foods, saturated fats and for some gluten or dairy, the body can often react with inflammation. When your cortisol goes up, the collagen starts to weaken and this accelerates the aging process. This may be a sunburn, pollution, fatigue, or second-hand smoke… So, you get the idea.

How do we battle inflammation then? Well, the easiest way is to get your sleep! A fresh brain and body are the root of good health so try to get the best possible. The body is in repair mode as you sleep so don’t shortchange yourself. Don’t forget to “power down” 15 minutes before going to bed. It’s proven we have a harder time getting to sleep if we watch television or stay on your phone. Catch up on that book and read a few chapters. It always helps my body shut down and before I know it I’m ready for some shut-eye.

And get that body moving! Yes, exercise. Do any sort of physical activity to get the blood moving. This releases your endorphins and they’re anti-inflammatory. Stretching in the morning and/or evening will give you instant results in feeling good, plus it keeps your body flexible which is so important as we get older.

A deficiency of cell salts can also affect the balance of your system. These are much more specialized though. They’re inexpensive to add to your routine and I suggest you make sure to read up more on them.

Lastly, of course, look at your diet. Does it regularly include foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids or anti-inflammatory foods? Think foods like nuts, egg yolks, fatty fish, leafy greens, and beans. Probiotic foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir are some of my favorites and I try to have one of them every day. Supplements like turmeric and reishi mushrooms are powerful as well. Bone broth is also very popular for the gut and available in most supermarkets now.

As much as we don’t want inflammation, it’s our bodies way of letting us know what’s going on and to pay attention. Be gentle on your skin and your system and remember treat and feed it what it needs not just what it wants.

This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please see your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.