Archive for the ‘Diet for your skin’ category

The oil conundrum

March 13, 2012

Do you or don’t you put oils on your face if your skin is oily?

It’s quite a conundrum for many women who have greasy or oily skin, so if you’re one of them you’re in good company – Victoria Beckham and Alicia Keyes have apparently both said that that they’ve suffered from greasy skin and acne.

Oily or greasy skin tends to look a bit shiny and has enlarged pores, it’s also prone to getting pimples, blackheads and blemishes and when you’re in your teens, acne can be a big problem as well.   There’s good news though, although you may hate it when you’re young, as you get older you tend to have fewer wrinkles, so that’s something to look forward to!

There are lots of reasons why you might have oily skin, hormones often play a part especially if you use the contraceptive pill; you may secrete too much sebum which is a common cause of oily skin and dark skin is often oily as it has more sweat glands and sebaceous glands than white skin; using oils that are too fatty on your skin will also exacerbate the problem.

Looking after oily skin doesn’t have to be difficult; the trick is to remove the excess sebum without drying up the skin.  How do you do this?

You need to use a very gentle cleanser and twice a day is plenty. If you over-cleanse or do too much peeling using products that dry out your skin, your body starts to overproduce sebum.  It’s also a mistake to use abrasive exfoliants because you strip the skin of its natural acid mantle which protects the skin from bacteria. Using the right toner [with no alcohol] can help to close up pores which means you reduce the possibility of inflammation from dust and dirt getting into the pores.

Unfortunately, there’s a myth that says you shouldn’t put oils onto oily skin.  This is both true and not true – it’s certainly true if you use oils which are comedogenic, meaning that they block the pores. By contrast, you want to give your skin the right oils so that you help regulate sebum production and your sebaceous glands can have time off! This way you help your skin move toward being a more ‘normal’ skin type.

When you’re looking for a suitable moisturiser for oily skin, read the label and see what plant oils have been included.  The important thing you need to know is what to avoid, [despite what the advertising says] and what oils will actually benefit your skin.

Oils that your skin will love are those with high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids, these are thin, dry oils and quickly absorbed – Kiwi seed, Chia seed, Thistle and Rosehip are all excellent.  The oils you need to avoid or check that they’re used in very small quantities are Olive, Neem, Macadamia, Moringa, Camelina, Coconut oil, Castor oil and also products that are paraffin based or that contain a lot of emulsifiers as these too can clog pores.

You can also use clay masks but only use the masks on the parts of your face that are oily and choose green or yellow clays which are best for oily skin.

Looking after oily skin starts from the inside – what you eat is really important.

Eating lots of saturated animal fats or highly processed vegetable oils can all exacerbate oily skin problems.  Eating chocolate, sugar, fizzy drinks and junk food is the fastest way to create inflammation, alter your blood sugar levels, interfere with absorption of nutrients and disrupt your hormones!

Wise choices in what you eat and what you put on your skin will pay you back many times over.  It’s worth remembering that everything you put on your skin is absorbed, after all, that’s why hormone and nicotine patches work and everything you eat and feed your body with will be reflected in your general health which includes the health of your skin. You are what you eat!

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The life force of your skin

February 1, 2012

What gives you great skin?

There’s a lot of talk about essential fatty acids and how important they are. But did you know that your skin also needs them?

Fatty acids are essential for your skin

Every cell in your body has a thin protective membrane around it and essential fatty acids (EFA’s) help to keep it healthy which means soft and permeable.  Why permeable you might be asking?  So that nutrients can get into the cells and toxins can get out.

Essential fatty acids are the ‘life force’ of the membrane of every cell in your body including nerve cells in your brain.  They control every bodily function from wiggling your little toe to fluttering your eye lashes. Essential fatty acids are omega 3’s and 6’s and we need them in the right proportions because they’re so essential to our well being and we can’t make them ourselves, we have to ingest them in the form of foods or supplements.

For a long time nobody knew what the correct proportion was and it’s still a hotly debated subject, but a study was done by a man called Yehuda in Israel in 1993which determined that the ratio should be 4:1, 4 parts omega 6 to one part omega 3. Omega 6 is also known as Linoleic acid and omega 3 is known as Linolenic Acid.

When you’re depleted in essential fatty acids, the cell membrane doesn’t function efficiently and so the movement of toxins and nutrients across the cell membrane is compromised. A common symptom you are deficient in EFA’s  is dry skin.

Do you have a ‘snowstorm’ of dry, flaky skin when you get undressed? It’s more common than you might think.

Not only do you need EFA’s for your skin, you need them for hormones, your immune system, pain and inflammation and good gut function, to name but a few  of  the essential roles they have in your body.

You can do an experiment and see the difference.  Try taking the correct ratio of 4:1 essential fatty acids for a month; you’ll probably need to take about 2 tablespoons/day to make a difference.  Make sure that you find an omega 3 oil that is not rancid!  Yes, they do go rancid.   But there are one or two brands who test for rancidity before and after production and who also test for the presence of toxic metals.  Fish oils can carry a lot of toxic metals.

Here’s a tip – you can apply oils direct to your skin, try a blend of sesame, walnut, apricot seed and hazelnut oil. Everything you put on your skin goes straight into your system and bypasses your liver.  That’s why hormone and nicotine patches work!

Sugar started my company

January 25, 2012

I started Celgenics by accident; I never intended to start a skincare company but of course nothing is an accident and everything we do is preparation for the future. On a summer’s evening 4 years ago, a client was lying on my treatment table, telling me that she was going shopping the following day for a moisturiser.  She hated looking for skincare because she was allergic to all the parabens and sodium laurel sulfates that are used as preservatives.  I had been doing lots of ‘detox’ work with her because she was very sensitive to perfumes, petrol fumes, hair dyes and lots of foods, but in particular, sugar, which she absolutely loved.

It so happened [serendipity?] that a few months previously, I had spent a lot of money learning how to make creams, serums, cleansers and lots more lovely natural skincare products.  I offered to make her a moisturiser which, happily, was a great success and she asked me to make 7 more for her sisters as Christmas presents.

Sugar affects our skin in many ways

So that was how I started and there’s lots more to the story, but the point I want to make is that what we put on our skin, what we eat, what we’re exposed to in the way of toxic chemicals such as paints, pesticides, herbicides to name but a few, can have a profound impact on our health.  Sugar is now ubiquitous in our diets. We’re eating more and more of it, in sweets, in biscuits, in Coca Cola and fizzy drinks. It’s so much a part of most people’s lifestyles that we never think about any negative effects it might be having.

Every time you eat sugar you deplete your body of zinc and chromium because they’re both needed to make insulin. And every time you eat sugar, your body has to produce insulin. Insulin is the only hormone we have that reduces blood glucose levels. The sugar ‘rush’ that you get makes you feel nervous and stimulates the brain to crave more sugar.  Over time this constant production of insulin produces what’s known as insulin resistance where the cells become resistant to insulin and the constant production of adrenal hormones to keep your energy going can ultimately lead to adrenal exhaustion.

How many people do you know who eat lots of chocolate and biscuits who say they need it to give them energy but who wake up tired and are permanently exhausted? These people frequently have a whole host of allergies.

Over 20 years most of my work has been helping people back to health by looking at toxicity and out of that has grown my new passion – Celgenics – it encompasses all the ‘healing’ tools I use in my practice and which I want to spread into the world!

Not only does it make you tired…it also makes you age. As well as reducing your sex hormones!

Sugar contributes to the ageing process of cells in a range of ways. It’s a sticky substance, and literally sticks to the proteins in the body to form what are called advanced glycated end products – or the very appropriate acronym AGEs. This process is known as glycation. It’s irreversible, and damages the structure of proteins like collagen, so that your immune system has to remove the damaged protein and produce more collagen. This cruel process then depletes you of Vitamin C, so you can’t produce more collagen, leading to a build-up of AGEs, which causes inflammation.

Not only does sugar age your skin – it gives you cellulite too. Cellulite, those lumpy fat deposits that are the bane of women’s thighs and bottoms worldwide, is frequently caused by a build-up of sugar.

The single most important factor that accelerates ageing is insulin…triggered by sugar. But fortunately, the body has an amazing ability to heal itself, given the right ingredients to work with. Cutting out sugar and reducing your insulin can bring huge health benefits, as well as giving birth to gorgeous skin, if you can just control your urges when they hit!

More glow, more vitality – everything you put into your body is visible when you look in the mirror. So check out your skin – what are you waiting for?

Do you struggle with a reliance on sugar? Or have you given up sugar, and found that it’s benefited your health and your skin? Why not tell us in a comment below?

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

August 30, 2011

The Ten Deadly (Skincare) Sins

What’s in your skin cream? Any ideas? Thought not. The ingredients lists on cosmetics’ packaging can confuse even the most clued-up label lover. Marian Bourne who created Celgenics shares her tips on what to look out for.

What comes out of the lab isn't always good for your skin

Many products made by leading cosmetics brands contain unfathomable lists of ingredients that can be harmful to not only ourselves, but the environment around us. You need to be armed with the information on what you should be avoiding. So what are the top 10 chemicals to avoid to guarantee you’re not using highly toxic ingredients?

1. Parabens
Otherwise known as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butly (sounding rather like the registration call for a 1930s girls’ school classroom), and also hydoxy methyl benzoates. Parabens are artificial preservatives which can give a product up to seven years of shelf life. They’ve been linked to cancer, they’re neurotoxic and they have hormone-disrupting qualities which mimic oestrogen and interfere with the body’s endocrine system. This is a cluster of glands, each of which secretes a type of hormone directly into your bloodstream to regulate your body.

2. Synthetic Colours and Fragrances
Many colours in make-up and fragrances are carcinogenic – defined, this means a substance or radiation that’s an agent directly involved in causing cancer. Labelled as FD&C or D&C, these are followed by a colour and a number. Fragrances for women can contain up to 200 single ingredients. They can also cause many side effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, irritation and so on. Both are found in nearly all chemical-based products and cosmetics.

3. Propylene Glycol
This is used as a moisturiser – ideally this is vegetable glycerin mixed with grain alcohol, both of which are natural and have virtually no toxicity.   But usually, it’s a synthetic petrochemical mix and labelled as PEG or PPG. They can often cause an allergic reaction, including dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities and could inhibit the growth of your skin cells, or cause skin irritation.

4. Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate
A cheap and harsh detergent that is strong enough to degrease an engine! SLS provides the foaming and cleaning action in toothpastes, shampoos, soaps and body washes. Not surprisingly, it easily penetrates the skin and helps other chemicals to penetrate.  It’s sometimes disguised on the label as having been derived from coconut – this too can cause eye and skin irritation.

5. Formaldehyde
Labelled as diazolidinyl urea or imidazolidinyl urea, these chemicals release formaldehyde – a colourless gas that is commonly used to preserve the dead that seems a strange choice for beauty products! It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and lungs and is a known carcinogen.

6. Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)
Often used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and/or foaming agents. They can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. They are carcinogenic and toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time.

7. Toluene
This is poison!  It’s harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, it’s found in many synthetic fragrances. Long-term exposure has been linked to anaemia, low blood cell count, liver/kidney damage, and it may even affect a developing foetus – so if you’re pregnant, it’s a nasty it’s very much best to avoid. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) contains toluene. Other names may include benzoic and benzyl.

8. Petrolatum
Commonly known as mineral oil jelly, liquid vaseline, paraffinum and baby oil!  It’s derived from petroleum products and is often mixed with paraffin oil derivatives. These products coat the skin like a plastic so your pores get clogged, and your skin can’t breathe. The ensuing build-up of toxins can lead to acne, dermatitis and photosensitivity, or rash.

9. Carincogens

Watch out for Acrylamide, Bisphenol-A (BPA), Butyl benzyl phthalate, Coal tar dyes, Green 5, Orange 7, Red 3,4,8,9,17,19,33, mineral oils and Nitrofurazone.

10. Skin Whiteners
These are a combination of the hormone cortisone and hydroquinone. Frankly, you shouldn’t see hydroquinone in any European product, because it has been banned. However, if you see it in a product on the internet, don’t be tempted, it’s carcinogenic and may pose a risk of leukemia.

There are many other ingredients to watch out for. A good rule of thumb is to look out for abbreviations e.g. (DEA) or (TEA) in brackets and chemical chain names e.g. stearalkonium chloride. New laws are due to be enforced over the next few years, which should hopefully bring a better understanding of cosmetic ingredient risks. The cosmetics industry may soon find that it has to justify everything that goes into its products – and not before time!

Do your cosmetics contain these nasties? Why not have a rummage through and let me know?

Beware Leaky Gut Syndrome

February 28, 2010

Most people do not know that illnesses such as colds, flu, respiratory disorders and the like, gain entrance into our system by way of the gut.

How, you might ask.

Leaky gut syndrome is the name given to a very common health disorder in which the intestinal lining is more permeable than it should be. This increased permeability of the gut allows entry to all manner of disease, like viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, toxic metals, candida, and toxic materials. All of which can impact your general health and your skin.

With a healthy gut, toxic materials, undigested food and fats are repelled and eliminated; with an unhealthy gut which has become compromised, toxins, undigested protein and fat will pass through the “leaky” intestinal wall, and instead of being utilized by the body, are then a health risk for the individual.

Leaky gut syndrome has become as common an occurrence as the common cold, and it is caused by an inflamed and irritated bowel lining. This inflammation can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Any and all prescriptive corticosteroids.
  • Alcohol and caffeine, which irritate the gut wall, this includes cokes (diet and regular), chocolate, coffee and cocoa.
  • Contaminated foods, E. coli and other bacteria can develop due to poor food handling.
  • Chemicals found in processed and fermented foods (dyes and preservatives), wine, vinegar, soy sauce, tofu, etc.
  • A diet high in refined sugars and other carbohydrates (e.g. candy, cookies, sodas, processed foods and white bread).
  • Foods contaminated by parasites (pork, chicken, fresh water and hatchery fish).
  • Antibiotic use – this causes an overgrowth of bacteria (yeast) in the gut due to the immune suppression that occurs.
  • Ingestion of animal products that have been given hormonal and antibiotic treatments.

Think of the impact on your skin!

Inflammation in the gut causes the normal permeability of the wall to increase, which then allows the absorption of larger molecules, which are normally broken down to smaller pieces, before passing into the body. Once inside, these microbes are then able to invade the bloodstream and colonize just about anywhere in body tissue or organs causing inflammation, pain and disease processes to occur.  This inflammation also damages the protective coating of the antibodies of the IgA family (immunoglobulins) normally present in a healthy gut. The IgA’s help our body to ward off infections, however, a leaky gut causes considerable damage to the immune system IgA’s and makes us less resistant to viruses, bacteria’s, parasites, toxic materials, metals and candida.

Another problem a leaky gut creates is a mineral deficiency, because the damage that happens to the carrier proteins which are needed for transport of specific minerals, are damaged by the inflammatory processes. Loss of carrier proteins can cause a variety of problems and deficiencies – a zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and some eye disorders (macular degeneration). Copper deficiency can lead to Osteoarthritis or even elevated blood cholesterol in some cases.

The inflammation in the gut causes swelling and, along with the noxious chemicals that are present, there will be blocked absorption of vitamins and essential amino acids. Eventually, nutritional deficiencies can lead to other complaints such as fatigue, headaches, memory loss, lack or concentration and irritability. Lower bowel gas, bloating and cramping are also among the symptoms that are associated with a leaky gut. Even unexplained weight gain is another symptom, which can be due to the deficiencies that are created by the leaky gut.

Another problem with leaky gut syndrome is that the toxins that accumulate in the gut put an incredible burden on the liver. Healing a leaky gut reduces the toxic load to the liver and will greatly improve nutritional uptake. Eating a good, nutrient-rich (organic) diet that has a good amount of fibre is a good start. A good detoxification programme is nearly always recommended, but it is important to understand that side effects can occur:

  • Headaches, severe to mild which can last for days if the detox is not done according to   your specific needs.
  • Flu-like reactions, from mild to severe, which can be minimized with the right detoxification program.
  • Lack of energy, this can be eliminated through proper supplementation.
  • Changes in bowel function

Detoxing slowly will help to minimise side effects.

References:
Bridger, J.C.: Brown, J.F. “Development of Immunity to Porcine Rotavirus in Piglets Protected From Disease by Bovine Colostrum” Infectious Immunity 31(3):906-910. 1981. The Journal of the American Nutraceutical Assoc., Cellular Detoxification, Kratz, Allen M., PharmD, Human and Experimental Toxicity, vol. 13, 1994. Walker, Allan, MD, “Antigen Absorption from the Small Intestine and Gastrointestinal Ds.”, Pediatric Clinics of North America. 22(4):731-746, 1975. Doe, W.F., “An Overview of Intestinal Immunity and Malabsorption”, American Journal of Medicine 67(6):1077-1084, 1979. Galland, L.; “Leaky Gut Syndrome: Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, Townsend Letter for Doctors 145(6) 63-68, 1995.

10 Good Reasons to Avoid Sugar and Save Your Skin!

February 25, 2010

1. Essential B vitamins and minerals [calcium, phosphorus, chromium, magnesium cobalt, zinc and manganese] are depleted to metabolise sugar so there are less available nutrients to feed your skin. For example, a zinc deficiency can cause hair loss and some eye disorders (macular degeneration).

2. Sugar is not digested in your mouth or stomach, it goes straight to the large intestine and then your bloodstream.
Fructose though, that you eat in the form of corn syrup which goes into lots of confectionary, is metabolised by your liver and turned into free fatty acids, VLDL [the bad sort of cholesterol] and triglycerides, which get stored as fat. The metabolism of fructose creates many waste products and toxicity in the body, which can create excess uric acid, increased blood pressure and even gout.

3. Sugar that goes straight to your large intestine feeds candida, gut parasites and pathogenic bacteria leading to gut permeability otherwise known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Gut permeability leads to less absorption of nutrients and allows the entry of more bacteria, fungi, parasites, toxic metals and toxic materials.

4. Research has shown that for many people who have a diet rich in quick release carbohydrates –glucose and fructose – over time they are highly likely to develop insulin resistance. As the body pumps out more and more insulin in response to all the sugary rich foods, the cells become more and more resistant to the insulin and the excess glucose is stored in the body as fat. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want to eat as it’s highly addictive, the result is a very acidic body which can be manifested as spots, acne and tired looking skin.

5. Sugar and vitamin C compete for a place in white blood cells. This means that the white blood cells of the immune system can be severely compromised Eating even 100gm glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey or fruit juice, all significantly reduce the ability of neutrophils to engulf and destroy bacteria. Since neutrophils constitute 60-70% of your total circulating white blood cells, this can have a big impact on your immune system.

6. Sugar can cause production of free radicals [superoxide, hydroxyl radical]. Free radicals can cause inflammation, pain, and have been found to speed up the ageing process.

7. Sugar/glucose attaches itself to proteins that form ‘Advanced Glycated Endproducts’ [AGE’s]. The formation of AGE’s is irreversible and they decrease the elasticity of connective tissue. Ie Your Skin!

8. Sugar has a very similar molecular structure to Vitamin C and displaces it from its’ proper binding sites which means that Vitamin C is not available for Collagen production.

9. Sugar makes your system too acidic; during the refining process, substances such as sulfur dioxide, milk of lime, carbon dioxide, charcoal, and calcium carbonate are used to purify the sugar but which are acidic and toxic for your body. This has a knock on effect to your skin.

10. Sugar interferes with how enzymes function and how hormones are made; if you don’t make enough oestrogen, for example, low oestrogen speeds up the ageing process.

A great book to read: Sugar Blues by William Dufty