The overlooked factor impacting the health of your skin
We all know the cycle, stress, work, busy life and many other factors can really take its toll on your skin. We sat down with top nutritionist, podcaster and wellness coach Brittany Ford aka @biohackingbrittany and asked her about the stress – skin reaction and her advice on how to defend against it.
Read the biohackers approach to having the best skin of your life:
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Glowing skin starting from within is a concept I come back to time and time again. Not only does our nutrition, supplements, environment, hydration and lifestyle impact how healthy our skin is, but our mental health, stress and hormones play an essential role as well. As I've discussed on my podcast and Instagram account, during the start of the pandemic in 2020, I had my first experience of serious acne (not just one pimple here and there), which created a new level of anxiety, depression, and stress like I hadn't experienced before.
I had tiny little bumps along my chin, cheeks and forehead. I was so embarrassed! I would ask myself, how can a biohacker and Nutritionist have such unhealthy skin? It impacted my willingness to go out into the public, do activities and create online content, leading me to be less physically active and social, which in turn caused more anxiety and stress.
Healing our skin from the inside out
There's a significant mental component to experiencing skin issues, especially new concerns you haven't had before. That's why healing skin requires a holistic approach: you can't just fix it with an expensive serum; it requires deep healing from the inside out, including looking at our mental health and stress. Whether it's acne, redness, eczema, texture, melasma or any other common skin issue I hear about or my clients have, there's always an underlying cause, and typically it's related to our gut or hormones.
Stress impacts our ability to have a healthy gut and balanced hormones, both of which can cause skin issues. When we're stressed, we struggle to digest our food properly, causing many concerns inside the gut, including protein fermentation, dysbiosis and Leaky Gut. This digestive stress can easily show up in our skin.
Chronic stress also disrupts our natural cortisol production, negatively impacts our blood glucose levels and can cause sex hormone fluctuations. These fluctuations typically appear in the skin as acne or a bumpy texture on the chin and between the eyebrows. Unfortunately, this is exactly what I was dealing with in 2020. I was facing hormonal fluctuations from my irregular menstrual cycle and stress from the pandemic, which caused my skin to break out and caused me to be more stressed. As a result, I had to really look at the root cause of my skin concern and take a holistic healing approach.
Proper nourishment is a must
Healthy skin starts within, including the type of food and drink we consume daily. Whether you consume only plants or a mix of plants and animals (or even only animals, which is becoming popular now), the quality of what you're eating matters. Choosing whole foods over processed foods is a great place to start.
If your pantry is more full than your fridge, you are likely eating too many processed foods such as crackers, chips, cereal, bars, and baked goods. Instead, we want to aim for a fridge full of fresh and frozen vegetables, fruit, eggs, animal proteins, milk, butter, and homemade meals. The quality of our food also matters to ensure it is not covered in pesticides, herbicides, additives, preservatives or made from GMOs. For produce, aim for organic, local and seasonal when possible.
An easy way to do this is by following the Dirty Dozen guide, which outlines the twelve foods to always buy organic due to how much chemical residue is found in them. This makes buying organic more accessible and affordable because not every item you buy needs to be organic. For animal-based foods, aim for grass-fed (and even grass-finished if you can), local, antibiotic and hormone-free when possible.
There are many food box delivery services out there that now deliver high-quality meat right to your door! Investigate to find the best sources for you. By choosing high-quality, natural and clean foods, we reduce the amount of stress our body is under when we eat and give it the nutrients it needs to function correctly. This, in turn, makes up healthy, glowing skin.
High-quality supplements make a difference
In addition to what we eat, we can choose supplements that support resilient skin from the inside out. Not just specific vitamins or minerals for the skin, but instead ingredients that target stress management and hormonal balance, which leads to better glowing skin.
Adaptogens are perfect for this since they support homeostasis and aim to balance all hormones in the body. The impacts of stress on the skin can not be understated, as I witnessed, so taking a supplement that supports mental well-being and overall stress in the body is a critical part of a holistic healing approach.
My recommendation is to use supplements designed to balance hormones like Chaga, Bilberry, Rhodiola and Pine Bark. Chaga mushroom helps protect against common skin reactions to stress, and Rhodiola Rosea helps repair skin, energise the body, and restore hormonal balance. Wild Bilberry brightens, nourishes and awakens skin, whereas Pine Bark firms, hydrates and even tones skin. Piperine also boosts skin and helps create more resilient skin.
The world of supplements can be overwhelming! Therefore, look for authenticity and transparency from a brand (no hidden additives or preservatives), highly absorbable ingredients and a brand with an excellent reputation from its customers. My go-to brand for skin supplements is Forest Spa Finland, a company based on these principles and healing skin by tackling the root cause of stress.
Maintaining a healthy body and mind takes a lot of self-awareness, effort, and time, which is the same for our skin. Choosing to make healthy choices every day can be challenging, but the reward is well worth it every time for our skin. While I focus on eating whole foods, moving my body a lot, getting adequate sleep and managing my stress, I also prioritise taking the right supplement to support my skin from the inside out.