In the Clear - Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations
|In the Clear - Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations||Darrell Miller||06/12/05|
June 12, 2005 02:13 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: In the Clear - Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations
In the Clear by Dianne Drucker Energy Times, August 3, 2003
Your skin needs protection even as it offers itself as your body's first line of defense against the outside world. Skin is always in danger of acne and inflammations during its daily encounters with stray microorganisms, streams of ultraviolet light and a barrage of pollutants.
Tending to your skin, keeping a clear complexion while safeguarding your well-being, requires proper feeding, watering and tender, loving care.
Your skin not only has to protect you, it has to look good while doing it. Unfortunately, much can go wrong with skin. One of the most common skin irregularities is the acne that often arises when pores clog and inflammation creates unsightly blemishes.
While conventional medicine has long insisted that your chances of developing pimples are unrelated to what you feed your body and your skin, recent studies are calling that accepted wisdom into question.
Research in the Archives of Dermatology (12/02) argues that today's pimples are linked to what you ate yesterday. Skin scientists now suspect that the typical American diet, filled with refined foods, sugars and simple starches, causes the exaggerated release of insulin and related secretions that foment pimples and blemishes.
The evidence: When researchers spent two years combing through the rainforests of New Guinea and trekking to remote parts of Paraguay, they took a close look at indigenous people's faces and couldn't find a single pimple. The inhabitants of these isolated areas eat homegrown food and wild game. They've never eaten crackers or cookies from a box or slurped a milkshake through a straw. And they've never had to cope with embarrassing acne.
The researchers concluded that no refined foods meant no blemishes.
Refining the Pimple Process
According to this latest theory, pimples can start when your digestive tract quickly absorbs refined, starchy carbohydrates from white bread or potatoes or sugary soft drinks. These foods are ranked at or near the top of the so-called glycemic index. That means that these foodstuffs cause your blood sugar to climb rapidly, the process that the glycemic index measures.
That rise in blood sugar causes the release of insulin from your pancreas into your bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone-like substance, helps cells soak up the excess sugar circulating in your blood. However, along with insulin, another substance, is also released. These two chemicals boost the production of testosterone, the male hormone that, in turn, can cause the skin to overproduce sebum, an oily goo that plugs up pores and gives birth to acne. (Previous research has already established the causal relationship of testosterone to pimples.)
Lorain Cordain, PhD, a health professor at Colorado State University and lead researcher in this study, points out that more than 80% of the grains we eat are highly refined and cause significant blood sugar increases, a factor that makes skin break out. In addition, he says, teens are especially susceptible to pimples because they are growing rapidly and, as a result, tend to be insulin resistant. Insulin resistance means it takes more insulin to persuade cells to take sugar out of the blood. This condition consequently results in even larger amounts of insulin being released and more skin blemishes being created.
According to Dr. Cordain, eating low-glycemic foods like whole grains, vegetables, fish and lean meat should lower your risk of acne. These foods don't bump up blood sugar as much, to be released and, as a result, are kinder to your skin.
Aside from improving your skin condition by improving the food you eat, taking supplements to help the bacteria in your lower digestive tract may also clear up your undesirable dermatological developments. Eczema, a discomforting and embarrassing skin inflammation, is now believed to depend on the interaction between intestinal bacteria and your immune system.
According to research in Finland (The Lancet 2001; 357:1076), eczema may appear on your skin when your immune system, influenced by the gut's bacteria, misbehaves, using unnecessary inflammation to defend against a non-existent infection that it mistakenly believes threatens the skin.
Atopic eczema, a variety of eczema that often runs in families, has long been known to be linked to allergies and immune overreactions.
In looking into the fact that more and more people have been suffering eczema, scientists came to the disturbing conclusion that this increase may be at least partly attributed to our obsession with cleanliness.
When we are young, our immune systems learn the proper ways to fight off germs by interacting with the bacteria and viruses they encounter. But during the past ten years, so many of us (and our parents) have kept our houses so neurotically spic-and-span, according to the latest theory, that our immune systems are failing to develop the proper responses. So, like a bored, inexperienced security guard who imagines a threat when there is none, our immune defenses are going slightly haywire, causing the defensive inflammation of eczema even in the absence of real bacteriological invasions. The possible solution: Probiotic supplements of harmless bacteria like Lactobacillus GG. This bacteria, similar to the friendly bacteria that live in our large intestines, seems to calm immunity so that it is less likely to panic and start an unnecessary inflammation.
These supplements are so safe, medical researchers are now giving them to pregnant women and newborn babies. In the research in Finland, giving these probiotics to mothers and newborns cut the rate of infant atopic eczema in half. (Similar, live bacteria are also found in yogurt, although yogurt should not be fed to newborns.)
The skin on these children is benefiting for long periods of time. "Our findings show that the preventive effect of Lactobacillus GG on atopic eczema in at-risk children extends to the age of 4 years," notes Marko Kalliomäki, MD, author of the study.
Tea Tree Help
Further natural skin help can be had from Australia in the form of tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Long revered by the aborigines of this continent, tea tree oil was allegedly given its English name by British sea captain James Cook, who used the plant to make a tea that improved the flavor of beer.
But Australians have long used tea tree oil as an antiseptic. Its popularity increased during World War II, when, after it was used as a lubricant on heavy machinery, mechanics who got the oil on their hands noticed it fought skin infections. As pointed out in The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook (Three Rivers Press), "The essential oil of tea tree...contains a number of terpenes, of which terpinen-4-ol is believed to be responsible for its beneficial anti-infective activity." Terpenes are special, beneficial types of protein found in essential oils.
Tea tree is especially useful against skin outbreaks caused by fungus infections. Research in Australia shows that it can help quell athlete's foot (Austr Jrnl Derm 1992; 33:145) as effectively as some pharmaceutical preparations. Other research confirms that it can help quiet many different fungi that cause unsightly skin outbreaks (Skin Pharm 1996; 9:388). The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook recommends that "every household should keep some tea tree oil close at hand. It can be applied directly to skin irritations."
Revered by the pharaohs' healers in Egypt during the ancient age of the pyramids, and depended upon for centuries by the Greeks for a variety of medicinal purposes, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is still employed for a range of skin problems. This botanical helps ease abscesses, bruises or sunburn, and is included in many massage oils. (But never apply chamomile's undiluted essential oil to the skin.)
In addition, creams and sprays with chamomile are used to calm the nerves and nourish the skin. As an element in aromatherapy, chamomile, whose odor has been compared to apples, is well-known for soothing and rejuvenating the spirit. Explaining exactly how chamomile heals and calms has not been easy for scientists. Essential oils like chamomile contain so many different natural chemicals that exploring their holistic effect on the human body requires detailed analysis. As an aromatherapeutic agent, researchers believe chamomile and other essential oils may interact with the brain, activating glands that stimulate healing systems within the body. But that has yet to be proven.
What has been proven is that herbs like chamomile and tea tree, and natural treatments like probiotics, can make a big difference in keeping your skin healthy and clear. With their help, you can present your best face to the world.