Russell Jaffe MD, Ph.D., CCN
Most people take their skin for granted. Healthy skin is important and has some remarkable properties. With falling temperatures and ambient humidity, your skin needs your attention during this time. I hope the information and inspiration in this article provides the tools you need for resilience, rehabilitation, restoration, and maintenance of radiant, glowing skin not just for winter but for life.
Skin is a Remarkable Organ
Here are a few fun facts about skin:
- Skin is the largest organ in your body.
- Skin typically accounts for 15% of your body weight.
- Skin surface area in adults is more than 20 square feet; more than two square meters.
- Skin has about 11 miles of blood vessels.
- Skin is composed of about 300 million cells.
- The body sheds about 30,000 dead skin cells every minute.
- A square inch of skin has about 300 sweat glands. Sweat is odorless; the bugs in your skin microbiome determine the odor.
- Skin color is regulated by melanocytes (pigmented dendritic cells) that are about eight percent of all skin cells. Melanocytes produce three types of melanin that dictate an individual’s skin color.
- Skin has tiny muscles called pili that can cause hairs to stand up; think of goose bumps.
- Sensation and touch perception on fingertips is often about 10-12 nanometers. Human skin is among the most sensitive organs of touch ever studied. By comparison a human hair is around 75 microns (abbreviated 75 μm) or 75,000 nm (nanometers) in diameter. This means people can sense the touch difference of a distance less than 1,000th the width of a hair.
- There are 3 layers of skin: Epidermis is the waterproof outer layer that creates the skin tone. The dermis includes sweat glands, connective tissue (primarily collagen), and hair follicles. The hypodermis is deeper and made up mostly of connective tissue and fat.
- Two important skin proteins — collagen and elastin — provide structure and definition to skin. They are constantly being renewed as long as skin cells are bathed in the necessary nutrients and are not overloaded with toxins and hormones of distress.
- Skin is piezoelectric – meaning, there is low resistance electric current flowing along meridians through the collagen fibers which get activated when there is movement or compression. This is a foundational aspect on which the science of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is based.
- The skin microbiome consists of trillions of bugs — over 1000 different bacterial species and more than 80 fungal types. Having a healthy microflora will crowd out the bad bugs. The microbiome and the skin immune system literally talk to each other, and the dermis is where this action takes place.
- About a half a pound of skin cells fall off the body each day. This is part of innate detoxification of toxic metabolites.
A Window on the World
Skin is a window of the body to the outside world. What you see on the outside reflects what is going on inside.
During wintertime, skin can become dry and chapped due to cold air and harsh winds outdoors and heat and low humidity indoors.
Here are some recommendations to nourish and soothe winter skin, as well as some thoughts on things to avoid, to keep your body’s window on the world clear and functional:
Sunshine: A regular dose of sunshine is good for your skin. Sunlight helps the T and B classes of lymphocytes (white blood cells) mature to keep your immune defense and repair system tolerant and to eliminate abnormal (potentially cancerous) cells. Sunshine can be healing. The more sunlight you get, the easier it is to increase vitamin D levels in the body. Vitamin D, a neurohormone, plays an important role in regulating cell density and growth. While it is common to be deficient, healthier people should have vitamin D levels between 50-80 ng/ml. Due to lower sun angles and our need for more clothing in winter, we recommend supplementing with PERQUE D3 Cell Guard™.
Natural sunscreen alternative: Long-term studies suggest that trapping UV through sunscreens could induce and prevent about the same number of skin cancers. Consider sesame oil as a natural alternative to sunscreens. It is an antioxidant and will neutralize free radicals which build up under the skin from exposure to sun. Sesame oil resists 30 percent of UV rays, and is also a natural emollient.
Nourish and hydrate. Dry skin often indicates a lack of healthier Omega 3 essential fats, as well as deficits in magnesium, ascorbate, and vitamin D. When properly nourished and hydrated, skin becomes functionally younger, smoother, and more radiant. Drink at least four liters (1 gallon) of water daily. Mineral rich water and herbal beverages keep your cells alkaline, energetic, and resilient. Intake of adequate nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin D, selenomethionine and Omega 3 fats can make a positive difference in skin health and nourishment. If diet is lacking, consider supplementing with PERQUE EPA/DHA Guard™, PERQUE Mg Plus Guard™, PERQUE Potent C Guard™,PERQUE D3 Cell Guard™, and PERQUE Liva Guard™ Forté.
Avoid immune-reactive foods. Eating what can be digested, assimilated, and eliminated without immune burden is key.
Naturally rebuild collagen. Taking collagen by mouth does not renew or rebuild collagen in the body. Collagen and gelatin proteins lack essential amino acids. Ascorbate (natural, buffered vitamin C), the full array of vitamins, minerals, and cofactors such as polyphenolics enable the body to make and deploy all the collagen it needs. Consider PERQUE Potent C Guard™, PERQUE Repair Guard™, and PERQUE Hair, Skin & Nails Guard™.
Check your first morning urine pH after rest and take in enough magnesium to keep the urine pH in the 6.5-7.5 range. This helps the body maintain its alkaline state and sets the stage for adequate detox mechanisms to kick in when the body needs it.
Detoxify naturally through skin. Epsom salt and baking soda, about a cup of each, in a warm bathtub, can help remove toxic matter through skin pores. The warm, magnesium-rich, alkaline water stimulates tiny piloerector muscles which further help the skin pores to open. This allows acidic toxic metabolites to be removed from the body and provides an avenue for magnesium to be taken up through the skin. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil in the bath – a wonderful natural emollient. It has strong antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and doesn’t clog the skin pores. Sesame oil gives skin a healthy glow and nourishes the skin into which it is gently rubbed or smoothed.
Sweat out the bad stuff. Sweat helps remove toxic minerals from the body. High temperature dry or wet sauna are designed to remove water soluble metabolites. In contrast, low temperature saunas (105-110º F) require longer sessions and are designed physiologically to remove the more toxic fat-soluble metabolites like persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) through sebum (oil glands)
Reduce stress. Stress hormones induce chemical changes in sweat, saliva and tears. Regular stretching, walking, practicing a relaxation response and active meditation and laughing evoke healthier hormones. Sitting and being sedentary, eating processed foods that are hard to digest, assimilate and eliminate and poor sleep habits promote hormones of distress. Spend regular quiet time being introspective and exploring of your ‘inner space’. Walking barefoot connects us with the earth, gardening, gentle massage such as Feldenkrais, Anat Baniel Method, Trager technique, and Pilates regular practice are all associated with longer life and better quality of life including better restorative sleep, healthier blood pressure and moods,
Your skin represents a picture of your health, both good and ill. Let nature and wholeness nurture your skin and your whole being. Taking time to observe and nurture your skin through stretching, touching, ambling, and moving rhythmically reflect your self-care and self-caring. Lifelong skin resilience and radiance is an attainable goal. When you top up and enhance your essential nutrient reserves you become more flexible and resilient while adding lives to years and years to life.
Choose life by following nature, nurture and wholeness and guiding principles; know your nature and live in harmony with it during different seasons of life.
- Bast A and Weseler AR. Masquelier’s grape seed extract: from basic flavonoid research to a well-characterized food supplement with health benefits. Nutr J. 2017; 16: 5.
- Jaffe R. The Joy of Food – Living the Alkaline Way. 1998-2019
- Jaffe R. The Alkaline Way in Digestive Health in Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions in Liver and Gastrointestinal Disease, Ronald Ross Watson & Victor Preedy (Eds), Academic Press, 2013: 1-21 .
- Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC .Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 298–307.
- Jaffe R, Collagen: Building Nature’s Infrastructure. Natural Medicine Journal. 2018, Nov 5
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