Chronic sore, dry skin often starts on the extremities or head. The more the skin dries out, the more inflamed it will become. The reason the skin starts to dry out is because there is less blood flow through the extremities & likely your body has a relatively low ‘volume’ of blood. This reduces the amount of moisture & nourishment carried to the skin which creates dryness. Low volume of blood develops through improper diet, poor absorption of nutrients or an excessive intake of certain foods, caffeine & alcohol. Smoking is also a contributory factor as it has a drying effect. The quality of your blood, when tested, can still be within normal range with no abnormalities, perhaps a mild anaemia. For whatever reason you have dry skin, changes in the way you eat can improve skin conditions & overall health considerably. So how do we increase our ‘blood volume’?There are two main factors.
A good diet tailored to the individual. Here we would consider the quality of food & effectiveness of the individual’s ability to digest foods & absorb nutrients.
Eliminating foods & drinks which aggravate inflammation & hinder liver function.
Getting the most from your foodWe need to imagine that everything we eat is ‘cooked’ into a soup in the stomach. If this is done efficiently the body can absorb plenty of nutrients to maintain health, including the health of your skin. If our digestive system is weak, it will need support. We can support our digestive system by eating warm, cooked meals. The process of cooking food already starts breaking it down giving our body less work to do. Lessening the work load enables our digestive system to recuperate & become stronger.Food quality is also important. Eating local, seasonal foods 80% of the time is the best choice, cooking them slowly into soups, casseroles, risottos & porridges through the colder months. Fresh foods from dandelion leaves to orchard fruits to hedgerow berries can be consumed raw as they appear throughout the year. Bone stocks are beneficial for skin problems as they are easy to digest & have a positive effect on blood production. Grass fed, organic chicken, oxtail, beef & game all make a good stock. If the skin problem is chronic or quite severe, use the bone stock to cook rice, pasta, potatoes & soups at as many mealtimes as possible until you see improvement in your skin. Vegetarians need to increase their intake of beetroot, kale, eggs, raspberries, blackberries, cavalo nero, chard, rosehip syrup… Warm slow cooked meals are essential for vegetarians through autumn & winter for the body to produce enough blood to keep warm. Aggravating inflammationCertain foods like cayenne, onions, ginger or garlic act as mild stimulants within the body, encouraging certain processes to be more active. They may create a sweat or increase your circulation. This internal increase in activity creates ‘heat’ in the body which aggravates inflammation. When we have a low ‘volume of blood’ we tend to feel the cold more easily. Turning to warming spices for a ‘quick fix’ to feel warmth can feel like a natural desire but it’s only by increasing our blood volume through eating well that we will be warmer in the long term. Consuming spicy foods or herbal teas like ginger, cinnamon or fennel seed will aggravate inflammation. Red wine & coffee have a very warming nature & are also best avoided when inflammation or redness is present. The warming nature of these foods will increase inflammation.Try to avoid regular consumption of curry, chillies, ginger, garlic, fennel seed tea, cinnamon, mustard, black pepper, red wine, coffee & horseradish. Hindering your liverCaffeine & alcohol have a negative effect on your liver. The liver holds & cleans blood whilst resting. When we move, the liver mildly contracts & the muscles in our extremities are filled with blood. When we relax blood flows back from our muscles to our body where it moves more gently. Caffeine rapidly pushes the blood out of the liver. If caffeine is taken several times throughout the day, the liver finds it difficult to relax again to its full size. Eventually the liver will become tense from ‘caffeine induced contractions’ & it is unable to hold as much blood as it would be capable of. This signals to your body that you have enough blood when really you have a compromised liver. A low blood volume is likely. Alcohol aggravates inflammation & thins the blood which makes it harder for the body to carry out all of the necessary processes involved in cleansing & creating blood. These factors reduce liver function, including its ability to clean your blood & support the digestive system via bile production. This plays a huge role in the health of our skin. Gwen’s Garden, ‘Chamomile & Calendula Salve’ will alleviate sore, dry & inflamed skin. For long term affects you need to allow the liver to relax & hold enough blood to be cleaned whilst supporting the production of new blood with good foods & avoiding stimulants which aggravate inflammation. This is the key to having healthier skin. Gwen’s Garden – Raw Herb Infused Salves - 100% Natural IngredientsChamomile & Calendula Salve - for Sore, Dry & Inflamed Skin © Gwen’s Garden, May 2016