We have podcasted together previously on skin disorders but today we’re discussing using nutrition as a tool to optimise your skin health. In this episode, Amie chats to us about her own skin journey and what tools she uses with her patients for improving skin health.
Amie Skilton is one of Australia’s most sought-after naturopathic practitioners; with over 19 years clinical experience she’s also an author, skincare formulator, and respected industry educator.
As a qualified aesthetician (and former acne sufferer) as well, Amie’s particularly passionate about educating and empowering anyone dealing with chronic skin issues to understand and leverage the gut-skin axis for healing their skin, naturally.
Andrew: Welcome to “Wellness by Designs.” I’m your host, Andrew Whitfield-Cook. Joining us today is Amie Skilton, a personal friend of mine and colleague who specializes in environmentally acquired illness. She’s been on television. She also just happens to be a beauty therapist, and indeed, that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today, Nourishing the Skin from Within. Welcome to “Wellness by Designs,” Amie, how you going?
Amie: Thank you, Andrew. So excited to be chatting to you today. It’s always wonderful to be in conversation with you, but skin happens to be one of my favorite subjects. So yeah, can’t be happy enough.
Andrew: Now we’re gonna have to stop ourselves from using our relevant nicknames. Everybody calls me awc, everybody calls you Ayms, but anyway. So, Amie, I can still remember the first podcast we did on skin, and I’ve gotta say I was gobsmacked how you said that you actually had real issues when you were younger with your skin. Can you take us through a little bit of this history and actually, can you take us through as well, how it impacted you not just physically, but also emotionally?
Amie: Yes, so like many teenagers, I’d experienced acne, but for me, it was exacerbated by a number of things. So PCOS at the time was at play, so high androgen levels. In addition to that, a very stressful environment and upbringing. I also had multiple antibiotics as a child for ear infections. You know, it was a whole sort of gamut of things that set me up to have hormonal imbalances and have that reflect itself in my skin. So, you know, no one likes to look less than their very best, but I think when you have a condition like that, especially when it presents on your face, you can’t really hide that. That’s literally how you present yourself to the world. So for me, you know, it was very distressing. It colored and influenced everything in my life.
And I have to say, as a teenager, I did what most girls do at that age, and that was to rush off and jump on, you know, an anti-androgen contraceptive pill, but it was later when I started studying naturopathy, I realized it wasn’t solving anything and indeed it was suppressing the, you know, visible representation of what was wrong internally. And that really sort of set me up to go on the hunt for the underlying causes and also drove me to study beauty therapy as well, because although we know that good skin comes from the inside, we are lucky enough to be able to touch this organ and influence it with topical products too.
So that was really born out of quite a selfish interest in solving my own problems, which is often how these things happen. But even today, you know, it influences many choices I make in terms of, I guess, the way…here’s how I look at it, as someone who is always, that’s kind of the weak point in my armor, I look at it like my skin is the barometer for my health and wellbeing. And any time I am, you know, it’s not looking as vibrant or as healthy as it could, that really is a message from my body deeper that there’s some things that I am either neglecting or need a bit more support with.
Andrew: Right. Okay. So let’s start with, you mentioned diet, let’s start with that. Let’s talk about feeding your face which probably means something different to you than it does to me, as you can see. So, let’s start with diet. You know, just how important is it and when you are faced with patients who, you know, might not be as aware of healthy food habits like you and I, how do you tackle that? How do you get them to change, to open up to, you know, the inclusion of healthy foods, phytonutrients, etc.?
Amie: So this is unfortunately, the sad, boring facts of health, and that is everyone wants, like, a magic pill, a silver bullet, the ultimate supplement that’s gonna make it all go away, in addition to being able to just get away with neglecting our health and our wellbeing. And unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Now, I do… I’ve never met a supplement I didn’t love, so don’t get me wrong. We will talk about how specifically to support the skin using therapeutic agents. But if you don’t have the foundation right, it’s like any other chronic health issue, whether that’s cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disorders, that’s the place to start.
So when a client first comes to see me, in fact, before their first appointment, I have them fill out a food, exercise, lifestyle diary that also includes how much water they’re having. And it allows me to assess, you know, what is their vital nutrient intake? How many servings of fruit and vegetables are they getting? Because only 1.5% of Australians are actually consuming the recommended five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit. So almost guaranteed that that is not where it should be or could be. How much water are they drinking? A lot of people fill up on tea and coffee and alcohol, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for optimal hydration, but also are they getting enough protein? What is the quality of that like? Are they getting the right amount of fats? What is the quality of that like?
So there’s a few different elements where I would begin to make some adjustments or upgrades to their daily habits, because we’re literally a product of our daily habits. So maybe if we start with water just to get that one out of the way, because food is a really big subject, but dehydration is… A lot of people are chronically dehydrated. It actually takes, I think we have to be quite significantly dehydrated to feel thirsty. And so many of us are operating with less than ideal fluid levels. So drinking the right amount of water based on your sex, your weight and height, and also your activity levels, and, of course, the season that you’re in. And you know, if it’s really hot in summer where you are, you’re going to be sweating a lot more and therefore have to put a lot more fluids in than you would maybe in wintertime.
So clean water is essential. You know, municipalities have to treat water because of the way that it’s stored and transported to protect it from microorganism growth that would be deadly. But often those chemicals that are being, you know, delivered out of the tap or faucet, depending on which part of the world you’re listening to this from, we are actually imbibing a lot of chemicals that damage our microbiome, our general health in lots of different ways and also not gonna be serving our skin.
Now, the other aspect of hydration is, of course, getting enough electrolytes. And with the demonization of salt, I think there has been…the pendulum swung the other way a little bit, and we need sodium, potassium, and especially magnesium in order to be able to distribute fluids correctly around the body. So, you know, sodium’s pretty easy to come by. Potassium, that might be where the vegetables, especially vegetable’s skins come into play, but really the number one thing that I see people struggling to get optimal levels of is magnesium. So once they’ve got the amount of water they should be drinking right and the quality of it has been optimized, you know, I might recommend, you know, adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt and a dash of fruit juice for flavor, or actually adding in a mineral supplement into their regime, which typically would be magnesium, but sometimes might need a few other things to support it.
And basically, what that does, couple of things. Whenever we are dehydrated and our blood pressure drops, our body needs to conserve blood flow and oxygenation to our major organs. And so our skin will typically suffer. And what we see with dehydration amongst other things is an increase in fine lines and wrinkles. And the analogy I like to use with my clients is if you compare a nice plump juicy grape to a shriveled up raisin, this is the difference between cells that are optimally hydrated and those that are not. So everything just looks drier, duller, and is more prone to having texture issues as well. So it’s definitely a really important one. Wouldn’t you agree?
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, the thing is that we were taught in nursing to look at skin turgor, look at a sort of measure of dehydration by, you know, doing the pinch test and seeing if it has the elastic capabilities of returning to a flat surface, flat-ish surface. But that’s in an emergent situation. That’s got nothing to do with optimal rehydration. We know athletes have really gotta be on the game. You know, any runner or any marathon runner will tell you, you feel thirsty and it’s too late, it’s already too late.
You’ve also got that other sort of signal about the confusion between thirst and hunger. People who are midnight snacking and stuff like that may actually not be hungry, but they’re responding to it with a snack rather than a drink. And I mean, I’ve found this myself. You know, I have to cheat a little bit sometimes by, you know, I might have to use a carbonated water. It’s not a fizzy drink, it’s not a sugary drink, it’s just carbonated water. Just to have it almost like a treat rather than bland old water. So sometimes I sort of, you know, change this about a bit, just so that I can feel like it’s a reward rather than a thing you must do.
Amie: Yeah, absolutely. I think drinking water can feel incredibly boring for people. And I have to say, it’s not something I love myself. So, you know, I wasn’t in the best habits when I was much younger and how I started was I would actually drink sort of a third fruit juice, two thirds water to give it a bit of flavor. And then gradually just cut that down till there was a bit of a splash. What you just suggested in terms of sparkling water is also another really nice way to do it. Throw in some wedges of lemon or limes, some fresh mint leaves you know, make it a little bit fancy, whatever you need to do, buy a pretty drink bottle, you know, set timers on your phone. There are all kinds of ways you can improve your habits.
And the thing is once your body sort of starts to operate consistently on a well hydrated level, your body will then actually start to prompt you to drink more water over time, because it becomes accustomed to that better level of hydration. So it’s really just going from, you know, drinking less than, as ideal and getting yourself to optimal. That’s the hardest part. It’s just like with exercise, if you haven’t exercised in a long time, or you’ve set a goal, that’s quite a stretch. That effort to get you from where you are now to where you wanna be is the toughest mile, and then once you are there, that maintenance is really easy. So how I do it now is I do really enjoy drinking plain water now. And it did take a lot of work to get there, but I also use herbal teas. So that is another way that you can opt for hydration if you find water incredibly boring. So people don’t like herbal teas either though. So mindful of that, whatever works for you.
The other thing is certainly in wintertime, if you have a cold winter, you can rely on things like broths and miso soup and things like that is another way to get in your ideal water intake as well. So yeah, it doesn’t have to be a plain old glass of water, you know, torturously, slant back because the other thing too is you don’t wanna be sculling large amounts of water really quickly, that isn’t an ideal way to hydrate your body. Something I tell my clients is if you were a robot, you’d be programmed to sip couple of sips every 10 to 15 minutes. And so, you know, just that constant topping up of your hydration levels works much more efficiently if you do it that way rather than trying to squeeze large amounts infrequently throughout the day.
Andrew: Yeah. No, I was just gonna…I forgot a thing. Oh, that’s right. The other thing that I do now is I have bottles, BPA free bottles. So I prefer a little bit cold or to have the choice of cold and room temperature water, but I make sure that I go through those measured containers per day. And I know you say sip, don’t scull, but if I get to the end of the day and I can see, you know, three quarters of a bottle, then I’m onto it. It’s a thing now. I gotta finish it before I fill it up. So it’s really interesting for me to have those measured things just as a guide to how much are you drinking?
Amie: Yeah, absolutely. Keeping an eye on it is important. A lot of people don’t give much attention to this sort of thing and it’s not until you have to fill out a food diary that you start actually noting it down. And you know, what you just suggested is an incredible way of actually tracking that. You know, I’ve seen some lovely two liter bottles that have got, like, little timestamps on it to make sure you get to a certain point at a certain time of the day. I know for my herbal teapot, it’s a liter, so I know I’ve gotta make up another liter somewhere else. But as I sip on that throughout the day, you know, like you, if I haven’t finished it by the end of my working day, I’ll have, you know, finish it off after dinner. And that way I know I can tick that box as well.
So whatever works for you. Some people like, you know, a smaller amount and get to it by lunchtime and then do the same again before dinner time. I know that’s quite a rewarding way to do it, to be able to actually finish something. So, you know, experiment, see what works for you, but just know that everything else works better when you’re hydrated.
Like, literally how we detox is water driven through bowel and urine. If you’re not optimally hydrated, you aren’t gonna be able to eliminate toxins. It’s important for, you know, great bowel function, regular bowel motions, which is also important for skin health and general health. So it really is the sort of the foundational place. And I think you would know the answer to this question. You know, humans can go X amount of days without food, sometimes months even, but you can’t go many days without water. That’s how vital it is to our wellbeing.
Andrew: So let’s move on in food. Most people are aware that, you know, fruit and veg are pretty healthy for you, healthy for your skin, there’s marketing around it. You’ll see certain vitamins, you know, pasted around the various skin products, but you mentioned something that’s very interesting to me, and that is broth. So for instance, if we talk about elastin for a little while and collagen matrix and things like that, can we talk about that in how you use foods to help collagen repair and maintenance, but also what you might use as a supplement to help patients as well?
Amie: Absolutely. So skin firmness and elasticity is something that we long for once it starts to fade. And there are lots of factors that influence skin firmness and elasticity, hydration is definitely one of them, but so is the health of our collagen and elastin. And that depends on a number of dietary factors. So dietary protein intake as well as zinc and vitamin C status because those two nutrients are required for the enzymes that actually make collagen in our skin and throughout the rest of our body because it’s not just skin, but things like joints and gut and things like that.
And certainly good circulation helps. This is why exercise also has a beautifying effect. But in terms of those raw materials, collagen is something that is really crucial and something we typically would’ve got more of ancestrally. So prior to the industrial revolution, when there was more whole food eating and no part of an animal was wasted, I certainly, even my dad’s generation had things like tripe, lamb, brains, all sorts of things, which would just be a horrifying thought to entertain for my generation. And yet when we think about the nutrient status of different parts of an animal, assuming you’re eating animal proteins, the muscle meat, which is what people tend to go for is actually the least nutrient dense by a long shot. And in terms of bone broth, which you just mentioned, you can actually, you know, make better use of the foods that you’re buying by allowing yourself to use every part.
And with bone broth specifically, the way that it’s made, it allows time and the ability to draw out minerals, which are really important, things like silica for skin health, but also collagen and the amino acids that make that up. So glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and arginine are all important amino acids for collagen production and certainly bone broth is one way to do it, but many people do like to take collagen as a supplement as well. And it is a really easy way to do it, especially if you’ve got a very busy life where, you know, food prepping is maybe not as easy to do if you’ve got long commutes or if you’re juggling children, and making a bone broth and everything that goes along with it is just a bit outside of your reach. Collagen supplements are definitely one option.
What I’ll say about that though, is you just wanna make sure you choose a collagen that has got evidence behind it because collagen is such a big protein. We want to make sure it’s been hydrolyzed to a particular molecular weight, so that it’s a very small fraction so we can absorb it properly. And also just look at the source as well. You know, there’s 28 different types of collagen. So if you’re looking to support joint health, there are different types of collagen for that versus those that are for the skin. Now, if you are looking to really rejuvenate all of your tissues, I would just say use one that contains all of them. And that way sort of get all of the benefits in one single thing.
But there’s been some really great studies to show that that is very effective at helping to nurture and support our connective tissue and can create visible results as well in places like the skin and really just softening lines and wrinkles or in those of, not me, but those of you that don’t have them yet, you can really just help to nurture and nourish your connective tissue to just really put the brakes on aging and just know that the signs of visible aging on the outside are a reflection of the signs of the visible aging on the inside. So anything you can do that has an influence on the stuff that we can see, is absolutely helping support the stuff that we can’t see.
Andrew: Just going on from there as well. What you say is poignantly illustrated in this, it was a biobank review from the UK. Forgive me for the incorrect number, but let’s say 24,000 individuals, huge. And this review looked at glucosamine supplements use over five years. So not short term, a reasonable expectation of some sort of change. And what they found was that regardless of what was happening with their joints, which depending on the supplement you use may or may not be the right one. I’m not a favor of glucosamine chloride at all, but particularly not for weight-bearing joints, but what they found was that the use of glucosamine supplements over five years reduced cardiovascular events.
Amie: Mm, yes.
Andrew: That’s elastic. So there, you’re talking about remodeling of vascular plaques and elastic, you know, muscle in your blood vessels over a long period of time. I think that’s really interesting. Now we’ve gotta take glucosamine. Glucosamine, of course, works first in the gut. If your guts are rotten, it’s gonna fix that first, and then will hopefully be absorbed to some degree and used by the joints, but collagen, well, that goes everywhere. So I’m much more of a favor of collagen. Forgive me for rubbing it on here, but I’ll always remember when I was consulting in pharmacy, there was a product marketed for skin wellness, reduction of wrinkles, plumping of the skin, that sort of thing.
And it was a Marine, what did they say? A Marine collagen extract, I think they said. It was in a white box with a yellow wave on it. I won’t say the brand name, can’t get it anymore anyway. But everybody knew, who used it, that don’t ask for it to work in one box, one month. You’ve gotta give it three months. And after three months, that’s when you can visually see a proper, not one of these makeup magical, you know, shrink skin sort of products. But this is actually a true difference in the vibrance of your skin. So that’s the only sort of caveat I’d say for collagen use is don’t think it’s gonna work over one month, give it a decent amount of time.
Amie: Yeah. Yeah, in terms of when you’re trying to shift anything in your skin, there is a hierarchy of importance with your organs as far as the body is concerned and your skin is right at the bottom, it’s like the runt of the litter. And so, you know, when your body is distributing nutrients of any description for healing and wellness in the body, it’s going to prioritize those for the organs that are absolutely essential to life. Things like your heart, your blood vessels, your lungs, your liver, your kidneys, your brain. And so even though your skin will have fully replaced itself within four to six weeks as a grown adult, it is doing so with the nutrients that are coming through the bloodstream to nourish it. And if those nutrients are being distributed elsewhere, initially, it can take several cycles before we start to see it show up on the surface of our bodies.
So don’t be disheartened by that. That being said, when you bring all of these pieces together, in terms of diet, lifestyle, hydration, you can really amplify those results and accelerate the timeline because you’re doing the heavy lifting with, you know, some of those fundamentals as well. And I would suggest if it’s taking, you know, three months to see results, it’s probably a bit of an indication of where your body is needing other support and it’s really sort of vacuuming those nutrients you’re putting into more important organs because there just isn’t enough to go around.
Andrew: Gotcha. Now, we mentioned right at the beginning, good fat and you know, one would ostensibly think, “Oh, well I’ve got oily skin, so that’s too much fat.” Take us through what’s happening here.
Amie: Okay. So oily skin is actually a response to things that are out of balance in the body, and it can be anything from a loss of, like, barrier function. And it’s a way of the body trying to put up a temporary protective mechanism because there’s either transepidermal water loss or there’s been a compromised barrier function. We can also see that when there are growth factors and insulin issues in the body as well, it’s very common with PCOS or high androgens. And that will happen even outside of PCOS with stress, stressful situations. So the microbiome of the skin’s heavily influenced by that. And I would suggest oily skin is a sign of a much deeper problem in the gut, in the micro flora there or with your hormones, but it is never because someone’s consuming too much fat.
Now that being said, our body does need to be able to get enough dietary fat to produce the hydro lipid film, which is a protective, you know, non-specific chemical barrier on our skin. So anyone who is either not consuming enough fat or consuming…not consuming enough, good fat, so essential fatty acids. And maybe in addition to that, consuming fats that are problematic, like trans fatty acids or those that have become rancid like…and vegetable oils is often the case. Or they may even have gut issues where they’re not absorbing fats properly, or like most people are actually born with an essential fatty acid deficiency because in utero, their mum wasn’t consuming enough. So there’s this, you know, again, there’s not enough essential fatty acids to go around the body and the skin can become dry and irritated and even flaky and itchy and sometimes even rashy.
So consuming sufficient amount of dietary fat and making sure you’re absorbing it is really important. So things like avocado, nuts and seeds, deep sea cold water fish, like sardines, mackerel, herring. If you’re lucky enough to get wild-caught salmon, that’s also really good. And anchovies if you like them, I don’t, but they are a good source of omega-3. But what I do find is unless you’re brought up in a culture that consumes a lot of fish or maybe for you, it might be financially difficult to have fish three to four times a week. Some people don’t like the smell of it cooking, some people don’t like the taste. And so I do often find myself, in addition to recommending, you know, nuts and seeds and avocado and things like that, other sources of good fat is usually recommending a fish oil supplement.
And just like what we were saying before, every single cell membrane needs EPA and DHA to function. Lots of different systems utilize those essential fatty acids. So it can actually take 12 weeks to really see a shift inside the skin with fish oil. So I’ll tend to use a higher loading dose to support that and make sure that people get a quicker result.
The other interesting thing is EPA, which is an anti-inflammatory component of fish oil actually helps to protect the skin against UV radiation. And it specifically helps to increase collagen and elastin formation and helps regulates a lot of different proteins that are responsible for producing different aspects of our connective tissue. And in addition to that, probably because of its anti-inflammatory activity reduces matrix metalloproteinase activity, which means it just slows down how quickly collagen and elastin is broken down.
So fish oil, I mean, it has so many other benefits as well, but, like, when it comes to skin, it plays a really fundamental role in skin health. And I can tell you, you know, back in early 2000s, when I was fresh out of naturopath college and I was running a couple of health shops, there was a couple of… You know, AAS was a big brand and there was a few other brands that were promoting very low fat and low carb programs for weight loss. And what I was noticing was everyone on those programs had really dry skin. And as soon as we put fish oil in, their skin actually returned to looking luscious again and elastic and you know, just more youthful because part of the aspect of youth is actually the ability of your skin to bounce light. And that definitely is contributed by the hydro lipid film.
So it helps you see every cell membrane and every cell which helps to support the, I guess, the youthfulness of every tissue and organ that you have. So, of course, it makes sense. You’re gonna see that reflected on the outside, but depending on how low you’ve been in your intake of essential fatty acid, it can be a little while before your body sort of divvies it all up amongst your organs and tissues and you start to see those benefits on the skin.
Andrew: Yeah. I’m glad you said something that I didn’t know about fish oil helping the collagen to actually do its work because I was wondering in my mind when we’re talking about including fish oil, and I was wondering about, I often go on about this and that is, there are many people, you mentioned babies that have this relative EFA deficiency. Sometimes, and certainly in certain conditions, there seems to be this deficient synthesis of fatty acid metabolites because of the arachidonic acid cascade.
And so, you know, you’ve got your Delta-6, Delta-5, and Delta-4, depending on whichever textbook you look at by the way, but there’s these transferases enzymes, which work via very common ubiquitous nutrients, zinc, B6, and magnesium. Do you ever employ these early on when you are talking with people, when you are helping people with their skin, or do you reserve them for recalcitrant conditions that aren’t responding?
Amie: Look, I find people generally are micronutrient deficient to one degree or another, especially with things like Zinc, B6, and magnesium. You know, we live in quite a stressful world at times. Everyone has their own individual pressures going on. And, of course, at the time of recording this, we’re in season three of the pandemic. So it’s, you know, one of those things where people are just really struggling to get enough from the diet. And in fact, I think when you’re under pressure and you are burning through those nutrients, it’s actually not possible to consume enough.
And whenever I’m dealing with skin things, maybe not necessarily just anti-aging, but, you know, things like acne, psoriasis, and eczema, I’m always doing gut work right up front, and those things are included in that. You know, zinc along with vitamin A is crucial for epithelial tissue, and that includes both the gut and the skin.
Interestingly, the gut and the skin require the same kind of nutrients, and so anything you might do for gut health will, of course, benefit your skin as well. But yeah, ordinarily I would include those things up front too, because those nutrients are important cofactors for those enzymes to function. So you could be putting in the best, you know, most digestible and absorbable collagen, but if the enzymes that are meant to take those raw materials and turn them into something don’t have the fuel that they need, your results are gonna be limited. And so, you know, having someone sort of put together a collection of things specific to you is always gonna get you the best result.
Andrew: Sure. When you’re looking at, obviously, you know, a simulation of nutrients and you’ve gotta provide them, then you’ve gotta assimilate them. We’re talking about digestion there, you mentioned stress. So that’s gonna inhibit digestion. How much do you work on digestion? How much do you work on stress? Which, you know, you might think, oh, stress is sort of disparate from skin health. But if stress is what’s causing the inhibition of assimilation of nutrients, then you need to do that at some point.
Amie: Absolutely, you do. Someone, I don’t know who actually said this, but the quote was, “The skin is the nervous system turned inside out.” And I would have to dig a little deeper on all the connections there but there is a direct connection between gut health and skin in a multitude of ways. The other thing is when we are stressed, so under the influence of adrenaline and cortisol, our bodies on a cellular level are hearing, you’re in danger. And so what happens is the traditional biological functions that would ordinarily be called to do have to be as tools down on everything other than that which is essential for survival.
So digestion… Like the blood flow gets redirected or prioritized in places like the heart and the lungs and the skeletal muscles and the brain and the eyes so that we can assess our environment and address whatever the threat is in a timely manner that allows for our survival. And things like breaking down your steak sandwich, when you’re about to become someone else’s steak sandwich just is not a priority for the body. So dealing with stress is an absolute must. The other thing is, again, fertility and healthy hormone production is totally dysregulated when the nervous system is activated. And what’s really tricky about that is our nervous system is such a powerful tool for survival, but for eons, its job was a self-limiting affair where whatever we were being threatened by, it was over very quickly. We either got away or we won and we survived and it was finished or we were dead and it was finished. And so…
Andrew: We were dead.
Amie: Yeah, yeah, either way it was over pretty quickly. And what’s happening now is we don’t have those immediate life threatening events like we used to, thank goodness. But what we have now is just this chronic triggering of the sympathetic nervous system, which is, you know, really problematic for good health, including digestion, including skin health. So there’s a few things we can do about it, certainly with external stresses, there’s only so much that we have in our control. So taking stock of what you can do and taking action and getting support where you need to is part of that. But the other thing that I always get my clients to do is a daily decompression, sometimes twice a day. To be honest at the moment, everyone is just down to their last nerve. So twice a day, more, if you’ve got the time is the way to go and just recalibrating your nervous system back to a parasympathetic nervous system state.
And sometimes, you know with digestion it might simply be a breathing exercise for one to two minutes before you sit down to eat and creating an environment where it’s conducive for you to eat slowly, chew properly, and relax. Now, in addition to that, of course, there’s lots of great things you can recommend. So digestive enzymes to augment where the body is perhaps unable to break food down properly at the time. Things that, you know, we use a lot of different things for gut repair that, of course, improves the surface area where micronutrients are absorbed and our microbiome is a fundamental part of that. And so probiotic supplementation also has a place here, but if there is a nervous system issue, which I think virtually everyone has at this point in time to some degree or another, supporting the nervous system and the adrenals is also, you know, an important part of looking after our health.
And that could look like anything from nerving herbs to adaptogens, to support us to, you know, #soldieron, and those sorts of things. But, you know, when it comes to skin, especially, like, everyone’s skin tells the story of what’s going on inside their body, but in some cases a lot more than others, those can sometimes be, you know, big red flags that your nervous system is needing more support or your digestive system is needing more support. And it’s just not a matter of popping a collagen supplement and thinking that that’s gonna do the heavy lifting for you.
Andrew: I think that’s salient advice. Now we’ve also got to cover things like sunlight. So you’ve got photoaging, photodamage, and yet you have that vital component, not just a vitamin, but a hormone, an active hormone. And that is vitamin D. What do we do here? What do you advocate? I mean, your complexion is vastly different from mine. Mine’s this hugged old man. Let’s say sun kissed.
Amie: Well loved.
Andrew: What do you advocate? Well loved by the sun.
Amie: Well lived in. All right, so here’s the thing, just to get philosophical for a second, I think so many of us, particularly in the age of social media and media in general and television, and, you know, a time of, like, surgical and non-surgical interventions, a lot of people have been hypnotized into focusing on what they look like on the outside at the detriment to everything else in their life. And that includes their health. And what I wanna say about that is, of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your very best and, you know, not to age prematurely, but there’s just so much to be said about just taking good care of yourself and just embracing the changing face and body as evidence of a life well lived.
And so in terms of sun exposure and all of the other oxidative stress that accelerates aging, it really, where is the line of balance for you? You know, there’s a spectrum. So, I don’t obviously advocate for getting sunburnt. I don’t advocate for baking yourself to the point where you’re going 10 shades darker, but also, I’m not an advocate of avoiding the sun at all times. There’s a book written by…
Andrew: We are not moles.
Amie: Yeah, no, we’re not moles. We’re not earthworms. We’re certainly not deep sea creatures of the ugly, dark bottom of the ocean. And we have been designed, we’ve literally evolved to thrive with sunlight. And in fact, there’s been a real explosion in the last decade of research around the way sun influences mitochondria and, you know, circadian rhythm and all sorts of other things and hormones. So I’m an advocate of getting appropriate daily sun exposure. Now what that looks like based on your skin tone, your incidental and occupational exposures, and the season you’re in and also your geographic location is a little bit different. So for example, I lived in Sydney for 15 years and, you know, whilst I am Caucasian, I do have a heritage which lends itself to easy tanning, quite olive. And so I never bothered with sunscreen in wintertime, but I’m now sort of at the top end of New South Wales and I’m now quite diligent with SPF 50 on my face, even on a cloudy day or cooler months.
Now, if I’d, you know, moved somewhere else that was a lot cooler things might shift again. So you do want to just be very mindful of those factors, but you know, you also have to live your life and enjoy yourself. So getting that balance right is important. The same thing with dietary factors that are aging. So sugar is an incredibly, the most aging thing, along with alcohol that causes collagen to break down or those proteins to cross link and get stiff and less flexible. Trans fats and a lack of sleep and a lack of exercise, those other factors too need to be brought into it. But thankfully, nature has dropped all kinds of little goodies inside fruits and vegetables that help us to counteract that.
So interestingly, a glass of tomato juice a day was found to have the biological equivalent of wearing SPF 5. So carotenoids and other fighter nutrients found in fruits and vegetables are actually there to help absorb the radiation and reflect the radiation so that we don’t take it into deeper layers of the skin and prematurely age or set up cellular changes. So, certainly richly pigmented fruits and veggies are a great idea. Locally growing seasonal would be ideal. Organic would obviously be best, but that’s not always available.
And if that doesn’t motivate you, I wanna tell you about this really fun study. When I first came across this study, it made me chuckle and it still makes me giggle today. So this was published in 2012, and the study showed that consuming more fruits and vegetables, you were rated more attractive in photographs than if you consumed less fruits and vegetables. Now, interestingly, the exact number was eating an additional 2.91 serving. So let’s just say three servings of fruits and vegetables a day, yeah, would actually… Yeah, at the end of the study… This was done on uni students. So to be honest, they were probably living on, you know, two-minute noodles and burgers so, it was probably fairly, a lot of head room to improve.
But what they found was when they showed photos over a period of six weeks the ones that reduced the amount they were consuming, looked less attractive by the end of the study and the ones that ate more fruits and vegetables had more of a glowy skin tone, looked more golden and more radiant and were rated a lot more attractive. And so, we sort of focus on things like wrinkles and even skin tone, which yes are two major factors that can date us. But there’s a lot to be said for those smaller influences. You know, when you just can’t put your finger on why someone glows, it could be their fruit and vegetable intake. FYI.
Andrew: Could be. Could be. Could be sex, but anyway. Amie…
Amie: That too. That’s also really good for skin,
Andrew: But if you have fruit and vegetables, you’ve got the energy for it. Anyway, that’s a different podcast altogether. Amie, thanks so much for taking us through some of the relevant points today. This is, obviously, a course. And you can look up Amie, as what the naturopath said so you can get further information about what Amie does and even consult with her if that’s your desire. Thanks so much for taking us through, Nourishing the Skin from Within today on “Wellness by Designs.”
Amie: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: And, of course, you can catch up on all the show notes on the Designs for Health website and all the other podcasts. I’m Andrew Whitfield-Cook. This is “Wellness by Designs.”