Skin Health



Protecting our skin from damage, along with nourishing it from the inside out, is important for great-looking, healthy skin throughout our lives.

 
  • Overview
  • Action Plan
  • Ask The Doctor
  • Related Info
  • Success Stories

Overview


Our skin is one dynamic living organ which interacts with the outside world, helping to protect us from infection and dehydration, however, it also serves various other functions including producing vitamin D and temperature regulation. Our skin, however, can be sensitive to damage or skin disease as it attempts to protect us and do its job and this can be related to:

  • External factors (UV damage, toxins, chemicals, others)
  • Internal factors (lack of protecting nutrients, toxins, chemicals, hormones, inflammation, others)

There are actually more potential influences on our skin from internal factors. Our skin benefits from us eating a wide variety of micronutrients, found primarily in plant foods, to reduce the damaging effects from both external and internal factors. An adequate intake of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is also an important part of maintaining healthy skin. A Nutritarian eating style supplies a high amount of these protective and supportive nutrients which lowers the risk of inflammatory skin disease, accelerated skin aging, acne, skin cancer, and many other skin conditions. And what some people think is the best part of following a Nutritarian eating style is that your skin will look great, and you will look younger too!1

 
References
  1. Whitehead RD, Ozakinci G, Stephen ID, Perrett DI. Appealing to vanity: could potential appearance improvement motivate fruit and vegetable consumption? American journal of public health. Feb 2012;102(2):207-211.

Action Plan


Diet

  • Follow a Nutritarian eating style for the maximum intake of nutrients that help maintain clear, healthy, youthful, radiant skin (carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, etc.).
  • Avoid dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, whey protein, casein protein, etc.) and sugar and limit animal products, salt and oils.
  • Stop tobacco and alcohol use.
  • Strive for a lower glycemic load at your meals. Foods with a high glycemic load to reduce/eliminate include sugar, refined grains, white potato and sweetened drinks.

Reduce stress

Take advantage of ways to reduce mental, emotional, and physical stress by getting enough quality sleep, exercising, and including healthy social interaction, to name a few.

Supplements

Taking sufficient nutrients such as vitamin D, zinc, and others via a multivitamin may help support skin health. Take a small amount of DHA and EPA daily, preferably from algae oil.

Other Considerations

  • Avoid prolonged direct unprotected sun exposure or tanning beds.
  • Use a mineral sunscreen formulated without nanoparticles to protect your skin during outdoor activities with prolonged sun exposure.
  • Cleanse skin gently, as opposed to aggressive scrubbing.
 

Ask The Doctor


The following are sample questions from the Ask the Doctor Community Platinum and higher members can post their health questions directly to Dr. Fuhrman. (All members can browse questions and answers.)

Q.

Do you have a supplement formulated to specifically to enhance protection against cancer?

A.

Dietary supplements by definition do not treat, prevent, or cure a disease and cannot claim to on labels or in advertising. However, plant extracts are continually being studied for their potential to maintain health and affect the disease process.  Clinical trials are being conducted, aiming to figure out whether certain plant extracts could affect cancer-related biomarkers, act as beneficial adjunct treatments to be used with chemotherapy, or help to prevent progression of an early stage cancer or pre-cancerous condition. Read more

 
Q.

I know that you have had substantial success in assisting patients with psoriasis. What I am trying to unravel is whether you take a targeted approach in your prescriptions. Within the general framework of a nutritarian diet, are there certain foods that a person with psoriasis should avoid? In addition, are there certain types of foods (and nutrients) that you recommend a person with psoriasis should consume, and in what quantities? In this context, are there any supplements which you recommend? Is fasting recommended? I strongly suspect there’s a relationship between diet and my psoriasis, but I’m not sure I have the will power for a radical change, however, my psoriasis now is worse than it has ever been -- widespread and very itchy at times -- and I have to tackle it.

A.

It does not take much will-power; it takes knowledge. Once you have the knowledge it seems pretty foolish to suffer with psoriasis. Did you read my book, Super Immunity and the position papers stressing the high-green diet for psoriasis? When you are really committed to get rid of your psoriasis, let me know. You are correct to assume it will necessitate a radical change in your diet. You will have to cut out animal products, coffee, other drinks, and the processed sweets. The mistake you are making is that you think you can't give up your food addictions and won’t enjoy eating a diet without all those compromises. It will take more work, and I know change is stressful, but once you eat this way for a few months you will enjoy it just as much and lose your desire for all the low nutrient junk you are eating. You just have to do it, and you may be surprised that it is easier and tastier than you think. Your fear and hesitation in changing is not based on fact but an emotional response to change.

 
Q.

In the past year I fell off the nutritarian diet and am now trying to once again get psoriasis under control. You had told me in the past that if I gained back the weight the psoriasis would come back. This time it is back with a vengeance and the arthritis too. I am very motivated to change, especially after reading articles on the links between psoriasis and heart attack/stroke risk.

How should I get started...Vitamix? Medicine? Supplements? Gym membership?

I do not wish to lose the use of any more joints and want to stop the inflammation ASAP.

A.

The place to start is 100 percent dietary perfection with no compromises and no excuses (and to exercise every day, no matter what the weather). Instead of medications, juice fast a few days and water fast a few days to curtail inflammation every few weeks. Follow the dietary protocol for autoimmune disease from my Super Immunity book. You do not have to have a gym membership to exercise vigorously. The most important supplement to assure adequacy is Vitamin D. Do not let yourself get deficient in that.

 
Q.

Can pustular psoriasis be reversed with a nutritarian diet? I developed this disease about 8 years ago. I currently eat a SAD diet, I’m about 50 pounds overweight, smoke a few cigarettes a day, and I don’t exercise. I take Soriatane for it. My dad also had it. I’m skeptical that diet will help since I think mine is one of the worst forms of psoriasis and is probably hereditary. I’m currently on antibiotics and steroids for walking pneumonia. I have a terrible cough and am wheezing and out of breath, and my doctors suspect maybe allergies or asthma or perhaps a reaction to my meds are the cause.

A.

Genetics plays a lesser role in all forms of psoriasis (and autoimmune disease in general), but early life environmental and dietary factors are the major contributory factors in those susceptible individuals. Smoking, obesity, and alcohol have been shown to increase the severity of the disease. Infections and exposure to antibiotics can also worsen the course. It takes a strongly motivated person to heal their body via nutritional excellence, and you have multiple addictions going on, so you have to take the initiative to learn more so you have the tools and education to change. Reading my book Super Immunity would be a good start. You would have to be willing to give up cigarettes cold turkey and simultaneously give up your old diet. It is not impossible; I have seen people do it. It might be helpful for you to be seen in the office, since it sounds like you have complex issues and could use the extra motivation. If you follow the protocol carefully, lose weight, and stop smoking, you should benefit greatly.

 
Q.

The autoimmune protocol lists dietary avoidance of salt, wheat, and oil as one of the guidelines. I have psoriasis and have been following this protocol. Currently I avoid wheat and gluten. Is it only wheat that needs to be avoided or all grains with gluten?

A.

You can still eat low gluten grains, such as oatmeal, but most do better with avoiding wheat, rye, and barley.

 
Q.

I have been suffering with seborrheic dermatitis (or psoriasis) on my scalp and in my ears for about 10 years now. I have gone to many dermatologists and have tried every treatment there is, including lotions, creams, different shampoos, etc. I have also tried some natural soaps, shampoos, essential oils, probiotics, etc.

Nothing has really helped. It is very frustrating because I have dandruff, and it looks terrible and it constantly itches. My ears have a white dry layer that shows the minute I stop using the medicated cream.

Do you think this can be eradicated by following a nutritarian diet? Are there any topical products or supplements that might help? Since I would be doing the protocol for skin related issues and not digestion problems, would I avoid oatmeal and all grains, beans, sweet potatoes, and nuts? If so, what do you suggest as energy sources? My confusion comes from not being positive which foods definitely cause the problem.

A.

You should review my autoimmune guidelines in my book, Super Immunity. We frequently see people with psoriasis improve with the autoimmune protocol outlined there. The key features are a strict ETL vegan diet, high dose EPA/DHA (omega 3 fatty acids), no wheat, no dairy, supplemental flora (probiotic), supplemental vitamin D (if levels are low), minimal dried fruit, large salad or blended salads, and a glass of fresh vegetable juice per day. The digestive track is what promotes the immune dysfunction that causes the attack on your skin, which is why the probiotic is often helpful. This protocol eliminates the most likely allergens and is high in the phytonutrients that will heal your immune system. Eat raw nuts and seeds like walnuts, cashews, and sunflower and sesame seeds along with the foods listed in the autoimmune position paper. Start with avoiding gluten for six weeks and any other food that you feel you may be sensitive to.

You need to follow the protocol 100 percent, not 95 percent, to get better, and even then it could take months to see improvement. No snacking on nuts and seeds, just some with the salad or in the salad dressing. Since you relate that your problem is severe, it may be best to have a comprehensive evaluation in our office, with blood work.

 
Q.

Is there a link between Nutritarian eating and healing skin melanomas or preventing more?

A.

Of course. Melanoma is powerfully related to diet and a major cause is lack of protective antioxidants in the skin, so, this program is essential for recovery after excision as well as future prevention. Of course, sun protection without using chemical sunscreens is also important. Chemical sunscreens may increase the risk of developing melanoma, so look into the sunscreen options we make available here.

 
Q.

Do you think basal cell skin cancer is related to nutrition or purely caused by the sun? I have been diagnosed with basal cell cancer on my upper lip line and just wonder how this could happen to me, as I have been following a Nutritarian diet for the past 3 years or so and before that I followed a plant based mostly vegetarian diet. I am scheduled to have the MOHS surgery and am so worried what I may look like afterwards. I just keep thinking I must have done something wrong in the diet area to get this.

A.

Sorry to hear about your skin cancer. Cancers occur from damage to cells that began 40 60 years ago. A cancer is many, many years in the making before it appears. Certainly burning the skin could be the initiating event and then nutrition does play a role, but sometimes it is hard to know exactly what went wrong to initiate the problem. But, the longer you are eating this way and maintaining excellent nutrient levels and the earlier in life you fix things, the lower and lower your risk will be.

Nevertheless, looking back and trying to align causation is not always the best exercise. I hope the surgery goes well, and they can make you look as good as you do now. It is amazing what a great plastic surgeon can do these days.

 
Q.

Since healthy people have carotenemia, a slightly orange hue to their skin, does this correlate and/or cause a decrease in skin cancer?

A.

Absolutely, a Nutritarian diet colors the skin with protective phytochemicals. The carotene coloration parallels the heightened concentration of other important phytonutrients, so the real protection comes from the synergistic effects of all the healthy foods, which is not the same as taking carotene from a supplement.

Eating vegetables colors the skin and decreases risk of skin cancer.

 
Q.

My mom has had many cases of basal cell carcinoma that have been removed. I just had an irregular mole removed that I’m waiting to hear the results on, so, needless to say, skin cancer has been on my mind. I have been making the case for a Nutritarian lifestyle with her for years but was wondering if there are any specific things that can be done to decrease the risk of getting skin cancer.

A.

We do know about the link between high levels of exposure to UV rays (sunlight) and risk of skin cancers, so it is still important to minimize this exposure, but there are significant chemo-protective effects of plant food nutrients, such as carotenoids and flavonoids, that have been identified in research studies. The Nutritarian diet is ideally designed to decrease the risk of cancers, including skin cancers. The general advice for preventing cancer applies here: eat more cruciferous greens, onions, garlic, leeks, all type of mushrooms (cooked) and a variety of colorful fruits and other vegetables (high amounts of flavonoids) every single day. If you make this effort it will translate into decreased risk over the years.

 
View More