Twenty two years ago when I named my company, it was based on my belief that beauty is the product of our total sum. How we think/feel, what we put in our body, what we put on our body and how we treat each other/the planet. I’ve spent my lifetime working on my ‘sum’. My love for food, and desire to be healthy have led me to spending as much time in the kitchen concocting, as in the lab formulating.
The connection between diet, inflammation, healthy skin and overall health is an often overlooked subject, and something I have always focused on in my practice and personal life. When I started working with clients over 30 years ago, we focused on reaching their beauty goals by uplifting their total well-being – their ‘sum’. I knew that I couldn’t get people to change their diet and habits unless I had appealing and accessible healthy alternatives. I applied the same mentality to encouraging my clients to change their skincare.
Inflammation can be a hidden factor in your overall health, as you cannot see or feel the effects until they are present enough to cause lasting issues. It is a slow process that can cause damage to a wide range of elements such as tissues, collagen and joints. Unfortunately, by the time you discover chronic inflammation it is usually too late.
There are two types of inflammation – acute, which plays a central role in healing and can be beneficial, and chronic, which can cause generalized pain, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s or even a stroke. Acute inflammation is more noticeable than chronic and often passes when its job is done – the skin around a blemish will swell and become inflamed, and dissipate when the area has healed. Early warning signs of chronic inflammation can include everything from fatigue and insomnia to depression, weight gain/loss and body pain. Keeping inflammation balanced is key to your overall health.
When skin is chronically inflamed, the consistent impact becomes damaging and causes accelerated signs of aging – dull, ruddy, lackluster skin, fine lines and wrinkles, redness, irritation and breakouts. Diet plays a key role in both the appearance of your skin and reducing inflammation for complete health and well-being. When I work with clients, we always address diet as part of the ‘sum’ to achieving their skin goals.
Another hidden culprit to inflammation is stress. While we may not be able to always reduce it, we can learn techniques to manage it. Simple moments of mindfulness and relaxation can make a big difference in how we receive and process stressful stimuli. There are many practical tools for managing stress (look for an upcoming blog dedicated to this) as simple as sipping tea, taking a bath, learning to release with breath, laughing with a friend, or carving out time for yourself.
Guideline of Foods to Embrace and Ones to Avoid
Increase inflammation reducing foods:
- Omega 3 Supplements
- Wild caught fish high in omega 3, including mackerel, tuna, salmon and herring
- Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil
- Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
- Dark leafy greens, bok choy, celery
- Garlic, onions, leeks
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter and summer squash
- Cherries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries
- Citrus fruit
- Green tea
- Nuts, specifically walnuts
- Whole grains oats, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, amaranth (some people say avoid all grains… this can go both ways. I say listen to your body.)
- Bone broth (I am vegetarian but use this often with my clients who are not. If should be fresh made, not from a box)
- Flax/chia seeds
- Bee pollen
Probiotics (good bacteria) are instrumental in maintaining intestinal health. They are beneficial bacteria that keeps your intestinal system in healthy working order, and helps your colon get rid of toxic chemicals and pathogens.
- Kim chee
- Pickles in their own brine
- Kefir and coconut kefir
Prebiotics nourish and feed the good bacteria that is in your colon. Both pre and probiotics are important to a healthy gut.
- Jerusalem artichoke aka sunchoke
- Raw garlic, leeks, chives, scallions
- Raw and cooked onion
- Raw wheat bran
- Wheat germ
- Wheat berries
- Apple cider vinegar
Decrease inflammation causing foods:
- White sugar
- Sugar substitutes – even natural substitute such as stevia. Rule of thumb is to always stay as close to nature as possible – meaning the way nature provided it. For example, sweetening with dates, maple syrup or honey. For processed sugar, coconut is the best as the processing is the cleanest. Please note diabetics will have different dietary guidelines when it comes to sweeteners.
- Dairy (lower fat is better, unsweetened yogurt/kefir in moderation is OK)
- Bad fats (saturated, trans)
- Safflower, sunflower and peanut oils
- Refined carbs
- Gluten and casein
Limit omega 6 fatty acids (in oils such as corn, safflower, grapeseed, peanut) – a common ratio uses is 4:1 omega 3 to omega 6
- Fried foods
- Artificial additives
- Processed foods
- Conventional meats and processed meats
- Fast foods
To Sum it Up:
- Avoid processed foods – eat whole foods
- Drink H2O
- Eat variety
- Eat as much organic/fresh as possible
- Eat whole gluten free grains and vary them – brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth (unless you are avoiding grains for health reasons!)
- Try to avoid canned foods – Canned foods are generally high in salts, some include added sugars and BPA.
- Include beans
- Include winter squash, sweet potatoes, and avocados
- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, not just the ones listed
- Eat the rainbow every day
In good health,
Article by Debbi Burnes, founder of Sumbody, natural products for your body. Watch their Instagram live streams, and look for Debbi’s upcoming Zoom classes for delicious recipes and stress reducing techniques.