Living in the UAE probably means that you already pay attention to your skin, with the aim of getting the balance just right when it comes to healthy sun exposure.
But vibrant skin isn’t all about the sun. Because the skin regenerates itself around every four to five weeks, the combination of your nutrition, hormones, sleep, lifestyle, medication and genes all interact to affect how it looks and feels. Often simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can make all the difference.
Here are some simple warning signs to look out for – and how to respond.
Many of my clients are all-too familiar with acne – those red pimples on the skin that are due to inflamed or infected sebaceous glands. Surveys suggest that 9.4% of people (41% of women) suffer from this problem. And that latter statistic isn’t surprising, because a frequent cause of acne is an underlying hormone imbalance, with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – in which the ovaries produce an excess of male hormones – often being the culprit. Insulin resistance also plays an important role.
Studies have shown that drinking or supplementing with green tea can be useful in combating acne, while topical tea tree oil remains an effective solution for mild outbreaks. However, because persistent acne may be caused by hormonal imbalances and – in women – PCOS, it’s advisable to discuss hormone tests with your doctor. For those looking to treat PCOS themselves, following a Ketogenic diet and performing resistance exercise are both excellent strategies; they can help to improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in controlling the condition.
Itchy and blistered skin is one of the most common complaints seen in UAE clinics, and has numerous potential causes. These include sun burn, heat rashes, insect bites and ageing, along with conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, impetigo (a bacterial outbreak), chickenpox and shingles. In rarer cases, blistering and itching can also signify diabetes or other metabolic conditions, which you can read more about in my book, The Metabolic Miracle.
Research has shown that mild outbreaks can respond well to essential oils (mixed with a carrier oil), including tee tree, lavender and peppermint oils. However, long-term problems, or severe outbreaks, may signify a chronic or acute medical condition, so do seek medical advice in these cases.
If you often go through phases when your skin feels dry and tired, you’re not alone. There are many causes for this, but it’s most often the result of ageing, excessive sun damage, fatty acid deficiency, a lack of dietary antioxidants and stripping away the skin’s natural oils (by over-bathing or using synthetic skin products).
Natural moisturisers such as coconut oil and aloe vera are proven to help to promote softer skin, while providing nutrients to skin cells. Boosting your intake of antioxidants and essential fatty acids (especially Omega-3) with a wholesome diet and the use of whole-food antioxidant supplements may also help promote hydration. A study published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology found that supplementing with an antioxidant formulation of melon concentrate, grape seed extract, vitamin C and zinc for eight weeks significantly enhanced skin tone.
And lastly, while we all like to be clean, you should try to avoid over-bathing and using chemical-laden shower gels.
If your face flushes easily and causes excessive redness on your cheeks, chin, forehead and nose, and perhaps red bumps and pus spots, you’re very possibly suffering from ‘rosacea’. Unfortunately the condition, experienced by up to 15% of the world’s population, can be worsened by living in a sunny climate such as Dubai. Rosacea’s exact cause is still a little unclear, but blood vessel inflammation, genetics, ageing, diet, light skin tone and the use of medicines such as corticosteroids have all been suggested as possible links. The overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori bacteriain the gut can also inflame blood vessels, so it’s worth sticking to a diet that minimises this.
Seeking expert advice from your doctor is your first port of call, because rosacea is a progressive condition, which can lead to a loss of vision and increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. However, research published in the Journal of Dermatology Practical Conceptual suggests that switching to a fibre-rich (prebiotic) diet that contains plenty of vegetables, prebiotic foods such as kefir, kimchi and kombucha, and optimal levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, can help control the problem.
I’m a firm believer in the crucial role of healthy gut flora for inner and outer health, and it’s something I cover in detail in my book, Reversing Cardio-Metabolic Disease with the original Paleo diet.
Eczema and psoriasis are chronic (long-term) skin conditions that are linked to inflammation of the immune system, causing symptoms that include irritation, dry and cracked skin, itching, soreness, scaly patches and discolouration. Because inflammation is at the root of many long-term health issues and diseases, the conditions should be taken seriously.
Natural topical ointments such as tee tree oil and aloe vera can sooth affected areas, but they will not heal the body at a deeper level. Treating eczema and psoriasis requires a long-term strategy, based on a foundation of a natural, anti-inflammatory diet, healing the gut with the introduction of fermented foods and probiotics, and boosting the intake of essential fatty acids.
Research published in the in EPMA Journal, a leading authority on preventative medicine, has shown the benefits of a personalised anti-inflammatory diet for allergic and skin disorders. In fact, many skin disorders including rosacea, eczema and psoriasis are all caused by dysbiosis and/or a leaky gut. The deadliest disruptions that cause a leaky gut include:
• Broad spectrum antibiotics
• Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
• Stomach acid blockers
• Artificial sweeteners
• Endocrine disruptors
• GMO foods
• Constant exposure to blue light
Some of the more common skin complaints can often be treated at home, but it’s worth seeking expert advice if you’re unsure how to get results. Because the skin can be a warning sign for hidden health risks, it’s important not to ignore long-term problems. In the case of potentially serious skin conditions, such as a growth, severe eczema, or rosacea, this becomes a matter of urgency.
Remember, your skin is intelligent. By listening to what it’s telling you, your inner health and skin will both start to glow.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.