Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader in the field of Functional Medicine. He is the founder and director of The UltraWellness Center, the Head of Strategy and Innovation of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, a 12-time New York Times bestselling author, and Board President for Clinical Affairs for The Institute for Functional Medicine.
He runs a series of short Housecall podcasts and here are his insights on skin:
- What causes you to have good skin? The secret to healthy skin is not what you put ON your skin but what you put IN the body. Most skin problems can be healed by what you eat, your nutrient status, balancing your hormones, and balancing your gut.
- Dr. Hyman earlier in his life suffered from bad skin (pimples, rashes, baggy eyelids, etc.) resulting from chronic fatigue syndrome; he eventually realized that it was a result of being toxic, gut and hormone imbalances, eating bad food and being nutritionally deficient.
- Topical solutions like creams, lotions don’t work well and steroid creams and antibiotics can deplete gut flora and cause other negative consequences. Dr. Hyman mentions that those that take antibiotics get autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions later in life. So his recommendation is to tend the soil of health, reset your system and biology by working from the inside out rather than outside in. Here are his nine top strategies:
- Avoid sugar and processed foods. Excess sugar sticks to amino acids present in collagen and elastin, producing Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) that literally age your skin and other organs.
- Eliminate food sensitivities. Food sensitivities can not only exacerbate bad skin conditions but are linked with autoimmune and other inflammatory conditions.
- Fix gut imbalances. Studies have shown that probiotics impact gut microbiota to influences various conditions including inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control and skin conditions like acne.
- Eat an omega 3-rich diet. Dry, itchy, or flaking skin could mean a fatty acids deficiency so a diet including omega-3 rich foods like wild-caught fish and/or fatty acid supplements should be a part of the skin regimen.
- Optimize nutrient status. Zinc deficiencies can contribute to eczema, acne and other skin rashes. Studies have found that vitamin D can help with psoriasis and acne. Dr. Hyman recommends a high-potency multivitamin/mineral as part of the daily regimen to ensure adequate nutrients are included.
- Exercise and sweat regularly. Sweating is a great way for the body to remove toxins from the body. Saunas and steam baths can be used to detoxify through the skin, which is the body’s largest organ. A study found the protective effect of regular saunas on skin physiology.
- Get great sleep. Studies have found that chronic poor sleep impaired skin integrity and accelerated aging. More reason to shoot for eight hours of shut-eye!
- Curb stress levels. Studies have shown that emotional stress can affect and exacerbate a number of skin disorders including psoriasis. Dr. Hyman offers mind-body relaxation programs on his website.
- Be careful with skin products. Dr. Hyman recommends to NOT use any skin products that contain paraben, petrochemicals, lead or other chemicals (especially ones you can barely pronounce). Drugs and chemicals are easily absorbed through your skin and the rule of thumb is: “if you won’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin”. The Environmental Working Group’s database on skin products has good info – check it out. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
In summary, Dr. Hyman recommends working with a functional medicine doctor to address issues related to skin with an integrative, inside-out approach.