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Under your skin: Taking care of your body’s biggest organ

I’m not sure if you know this, but our bodies biggest organ is the skin.


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Our skin is alive, it gets thirsty and hungry, it feels things and if it’s unhappy it will show you! When your skin is unhappy it actually means it is unbalanced. There are numerous factors that influence the health and vitality of our skin and most of these factors can be controlled by our lifestyle choices.


Before you eat, think about what you are putting into your body. The food that you choose to consume will show in the health and balance of your skin and can lead to skin problems. Wherever you can, always choose fresh fruit and vegetables, keep your protein intake balanced and try to consume healthy protein options.

Try as hard as you can to get in at least eight to ten glasses of water every day. If you can consume more then that’s even better. If you are one of those people who finds drinking water boring and bland, try spicing it up with some infusions. Some amazing infusion options are mint, lemon, lime, cucumber and berries.

I know its tough to cut down on your caffeine intake, but it’s better for your skin and can reduce skin problems. Try and replace some cups of coffee during the day with herbal teas.

Sometimes all you want is something deep-fried and smothered in chocolate, but fried food intake actually increases free radicals which in turn causes free radical damage and skin problems. Fried foods and junk food sadly may increase your chances of experiencing underlying congestion in the skin which may lead to breakouts. Rude, I know!

The best foods to consume for your skin are whole grains which provide B vitamins, nuts which provide vitamin E, red and green leafy vegetables providing vitamin A, citrus fruit providing vitamin C and seafood providing omega 3 fatty acids and zinc.

Lack of exercise

In order for the body, skin and brain to function optimally, they need oxygen. One of the main culprits for unbalanced skin is stress. Stress may cause the skin to become dull, congested and inflamed and therefore can lead to skin problems. There is an excessive release of cortisol which causes an increase of oil production in the skin, which results in breakouts and in some cases acne. Exercise is an easy way to decrease stress levels and in turn cortisol levels.

Exercise causes you to sweat, cleansing the body from the inside out, thus aiding the body in ridding itself of toxins. Exercise also helps to stimulate basal metabolic rate and promotes circulation, thus improving oxygenation of cells, increased nutrition to cells and the removal of waste from the tissues. The overall health of the skin will improve with regular exercise.

Bad habits

Smoking causes lines, dehydration and a breakdown in vitamin C which results in collagen and elastin fibre damage which causes ageing of the skin. The chemicals in cigarette smoke such as carbon monoxide, bind the red blood cells which impede the transportation of oxygen to cells. Smoking also causes free radical formation which oxidises cells in our body and causes cell destruction.

Excessive alcohol consumption dehydrates the body and causes dilation of the blood vessels which can possibly cause permanent dilation of capillaries. If these extra toxins arent cleaned out by the liver, the skin can take on this role and can lead to blemishes. Toxins also cause ageing of the skin which affects its elasticity and tone.


Drugs affect the way the body would normally function. Some medications may sensitise the skin which in turn could possibly trigger an inflammatory response. Some medications can also cause hyperpigmentation which causes discolouration of the skin.

Overexposure to the sun

This causes a myriad of short term and long term changes in the skin and affects the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin. When the skins cells are damaged through overexposure to the sun, the skin’s ability to repair itself and detect abnormal changes are altered. The skin loses elasticity quicker and skin tumours can develop. Overexposure to the sun also affects all the immune functions of the skin by disabling them and depleting the immune function of the skin. Long-term overexposure reduces the elasticity of the skin and the tone of the skin by destroying collagen and elastin fibres. This results in expression lines, sagging and linked to the development of early skin cancer.

Lack of skincare

A cleanser is used to soften and remove any daily dirt and skin secretions for easy removal. Using the wrong cleanser can be as detrimental as not using one at all. Using only one part of a skincare routine will also not benefit the skin. Using a cleanser without using a moisturiser will simply prolong the unbalanced state of the skin. If you never exfoliate the skin, you are simply applying products onto layers of dead skin which means the products that you are using are not optimally penetrating the skin.


While we are asleep, the skin is active with cellular renewal and removing waste. High levels of stress depletes the normal functioning of vital vitamins and minerals in the body, a lack thereof may contribute to various reactions of the skin as well as various skin problems.

Environmental factors

These factors are directly and indirectly responsible for skin problems such as ageing of the skin, inflammatory conditions, allergy conditions, discolouration and dyschromia developing. Some environmental factors include air pollution from cars and factories, the presence of dry air from air conditioners, wind, fluorescent lighting, radiation (from the sun, computer screens, heat radiation from the car), pesticides, flavourings, colourants, preservatives in our food and beverages. All these factors have a dehydrating effect on the skin which influences the natural moisturising factor of the skin.

So the moral of the story is to keep the skin happy and healthy. It’s not always that simple though is it? Sometimes all you want is a big glass of wine and cheesy jalapeño fries! My view on things in life is everything in moderation. Have that glass of wine, eat those fries, but don’t do that every day.