As we know from Hippocrates, nutrition is medicine. Eating for our hormones will balance our bodies and contribute to healthier and clearer skin. But there’s more to eating for our hormones than nibbling on dark chocolate during our period.
Our food is our fuel – what goes in comes out, right? Then it should make sense that we need certain kinds of quality nutrients to balance our skin health. The outside condition of our bodies is a reflection of our inner health and wellness. Our skin mirrors our hormonal health, as well as blood and liver detoxification. So, if we want healthy skin, we need to balance our hormones, clean our blood, and help our liver; this can be achieved by nutrition and internal cleansing.
Cravings, zits and/or acne, and mood swings are often a result of hormonal malnutrition; either we’re not eating the right kind of foods, not enough of the right foods, or we’re eating foods that directly cause inflammation and irritation to the body. Yes, problematic skin predispositions can be genetic, but bad diet, parasites, blood infections, or unattended hormones can worsen a genetic tendency to skin issues. In addition to our feminine cycle hormones, we also have liver and blood hormones which are often overlooked but play a large role in detoxifying our body and balancing our skin health; the liver and blood are basically filters for the body and show their health through the skin. Proper nutrients for hormonal cleansing and rejuvenation contribute to cleaner skin and fewer breakouts. Mindfully eating for your hormones can also balance those many health areas of your body that are reflected by the skin.
Liver and Blood Health
Good skin is not just genetic; it’s affected by internal, as well as external, hygiene. Parasites or blood infections may be the culprits of skin disorders and could be wreaking havoc inside the body. Skin problems can also be caused by food intolerances, a dairy sensitivity, or excessive alcohol consumption. Studies show that skin problems can be worsened by an excess of alcohol consumption, and because alcohol is a diuretic, it can make the skin “look wrinkled, dull and grey, or bloated and puffy.” Ever wonder why some people who partied hard or drank often look so much older after college? Even drinking moderate amounts of alcohol still dehydrates your body. Plus, making the liver work harder by filtering alcohol toxins out has been shown to cause liver damage over time, which will also contribute to skin problems and early aging. Drinking alcohol in large amounts frequently can cause skin problems as well as signs of lines and wrinkles.
Our skin mirrors our hormonal health, as well as blood and liver detoxification.
Hormones. These little elves are not just responsible for moods and sugar cravings but are also involved in skin health. Now, since hormonal science/nutrition is a more recent area of study, most of us grew up without knowing what happened during the different phases of our cycle, or not knowing those phases existed at all. We just knew our periods came roughly once a month! However, studies show (and many women now know by experience) that hormonal nutrition is key to good hormonal performance. We can hardly blame genetics or a seemingly never-ending puberty rollercoaster if we’re not feeding our hormones the nutrients they need for their specific functions.
5 Ways To Clean Up Your Skin
1. Eat for Your Cycle
Giving your cycling hormones what they want will prevent them from having to literally break out in frustration. Balancing blood sugar with proper nutrients prevents splurging on inflammatory foods that will irritate the skin. During your menstrual phase, avoid spicy foods and processed sugar and dairy; eat nourishing soups and clean protein (eggs, chicken), dark chocolate (not milk chocolate/candy bars – no Twix) for iron and magnesium, and water-rich fruits like watermelon and grapes to hydrate your body during uterine-lining shedding.
For ovulation hormones, eat foods high in natural fat/omega-3s and clean protein, such as: fish, eggs, avocado, olive oil, grass-fed butter, pistachios, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Avoid greasy foods or processed oils. Any anti-inflammatory/antioxidant foods are beneficial.
With the follicular phase, increase vitamin C consumption (cherries, lemons, grapefruit, oranges) for building progesterone with lean proteins such as eggs, fish, and nuts, and eat green/leafy vegetables for iron.
And for the luteal phase, the body’s metabolism (hence, appetite) and testosterone peak, so the menu consists of foods high in protein and fatty acids like eggs and beef/venison (red meat to increase blood cell count before menstruation). Additionally, rising levels of progesterone and estrogen need increased fiber with complex carbohydrates like brown rice/quinoa, legumes, and squash, plus estrogen-balancing root vegetables like onions, potatoes, and cassava to stabilize hormone creation and satisfy appetite. Eat fats like coconut oil and grass-fed butter/ghee, as well as anti-inflammatory fruits like pineapple, apples, and pears. Eating fruit daily will help balance hormones and stabilize blood sugar.
2. Minimize Processed Sugar
This includes processed dairy that has been pasteurized; stick to minimally processed, organic dairy products, if any at all. Let fruits satisfy your sweet tooth; daily assigned fruits also reduce sugar cravings, which means less binging on foods like donuts and cheap ice cream that contain processed dairy and sugar that can lead to skin breakouts.
Eating fruit daily will help balance hormones and stabilize blood sugar.
This budgeting also includes alcohol, because alcohol breaks down into sugar in the body. Not that you can’t ever drink (we love a good mimosa as much as anyone), but it’s important to regulate your alcohol intake. Balance and good portions are key. Set a number for yourself on how many times you drink, say, per week (your wallet will thank you too – alcohol can get pricey!). And after you drink, or the next morning after going out for cocktails, drink lots of water maybe with lemon or lime squeezed in, and/or a fresh green juice, to detox and restore hydration.
3. Do a Parasite and/or Blood Cleanse
Besides being effective for internal detoxification, herbal cleanses have been shown to benefit skin health by unclogging pores, removing toxins from the liver, and refreshing the body. Intensive cleanses should be done at least once, if not twice, per year.
Parasite problems are often overlooked in America because “we’re not a third-world country,” but parasites are very problematic and can be easily caught through food (mainly restaurant/fast food) consumption, by walking barefoot around animals, and from indoor pets. You’re also more susceptible to parasite infections if your immune system is compromised in any way, and they can worsen present issues as well as create new health problems. In addition to improving overall health, parasite cleanses are very specifically beneficial for the skin by effecting liver detox.
Blood cleanses also provide major advantages and help mend blood infections, sluggish circulatory detoxification, or blood hormone imbalance; certain food nutrients like turmeric also help clean the blood.
4. Skincare Treatments Timed to Your Cycle
Your skin is exposed to dirt, vapors, and irritants every day, and old skin cells die and give way to new skin cells; but if you don’t clean away the dead skin cells, your pores will simply clog up. Exfoliating helps keep your skin clean, smooth, and soft, plus it feels so nice! It’s often easy to forget to properly clean your face, but aligning your skincare with your cycle is very important. Gently exfoliating 2-3 times per week helps aerate the skin and clean the pores. Sugar scrubs are a simple and inexpensive way to exfoliate; find an easy sugar scrub recipe here. Remember to always moisturize after exfoliating with a clean face cream or lotion.
In the luteal phase, increased progesterone and testosterone can cause increased oil production.
During ovulation, it’s very common for the skin on the lower cheek or chin area to break out; that’s because these areas relate to our reproductive areas that are working extra hard during this phase. Your estrogen will increase again, so using anti-inflammatory treatments like honey/oatmeal scrubs and charcoal face masks will help cleanse skin pores. In the luteal phase, progesterone and testosterone rise again, often causing the skin to swell and an increased oil production that may cause breakouts, so you can apply oil-balancing face masks.
5. Herbal Teas/ Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements include more than just yummy vitamin gummies. Herbs provide natural and side-effects-free medicinal alternatives, and have gained much more popularity in the last decade or so after being considered quackery in the past. Many herbal substances contain purifying nutrients that can help clean the skin by detoxifying the liver and blood and balancing hormones.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has pioneered herbal remedies for decades and seen huge success in the holistic world. Many women have had amazing results in hormonal and skin health from TCM. Teas provide a pleasant way to consume herbal nutrients. Herbal teas contain medicinal benefits and have been shown to help achieve glowing skin. Dietary supplements can also include food nutrients; adding collagen to your diet and using facial care products with added collagen can work wonders for the condition of your epidermis!
By consuming the right foods as medicine and fuel for our hormonal cycles, liver, and blood health, we can finally naturally achieve healthy and radiant skin to reflect inner vitality. Gone can be the days of inexplicable mood swings and frustrating cravings topped off by random breakouts! The woman’s hormonal cycle is a fascinating process that works with our organs and dominates a very large part of the feminine body’s functioning, and the results of this process show on our skin. Literally, our skin is the face of our health, so it deserves educated pampering.
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