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Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Glycine - A Boon for Skin and More

Despite glycine being the simplest amino acid, it has many impressive functions in the body; not only is it found in most protein type foods, but is technically made by the body albeit in small amounts. Nevertheless growing evidence indicates that we are still deficient in this amino acid and supplementation has a plethora of health benefits.

In this blog we take a comprehensive look at glycine’s health properties and examine the mounting evidence that points towards supplementing with 10g per day not only for skin health, but just about every area of health. (1)

All humans are glycine deficient

Glycine should be classed as essential since we are deficient in glycine by around 10g per day, but due to the small amounts the body makes, it is classed as non- essential.

ANTIOXIDANT & DETOXIFICATION

When we usually think of antioxidants, the vitamins C and E usually spring to mind. What most people don’t realise is that our endogenous (made by the body) antioxidant system plays the master role in protecting the cells including the mitochondria (the energy plants of the cells) from oxidative damage via free radicals.

Of these endogenous antioxidants, glutathione is probably the most protective, and is found in every bodily system.

Glutathione production
Glutathione is made from 3 amino acids, namely glutamate, cysteine and glycine, but importantly scientific studies have demonstrated that glycine levels are the primary factor in glutathione production. Without sufficient glycine being available, the body will excrete the precursor amino acids. Interestingly vegans and vegetarians excrete around 80% more of these amino acids than meat eating people, which indicates that non-meat eaters have less ability to complete the process of glutathione synthesis. (2)

Glycine Increases production of glutathione, while reducing oxidative stress, thus protecting all tissue systems from damage. (3)

Further glycine enhances the antioxidant response by increasing the production of pyruvate in the liver, which is a powerful free radical scavenger

Nrf2 signalling
The internal antioxidant system of the body is able to respond at different levels depending on the needs at a particular time, often mediated by Nrf2 signalling. Many studies have demonstrated the up-regulation of Nrf2 by glycine supplementation. (4)

Glycine reduces the toxic effects of dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium and lead on the kidneys and liver, and a study demonstrated glycine’s ability to impressively lower the accumulation of lead in bones as well as completely reverse liver damage associated with lead poisoning. Please note that excess lead in the bones as a primary cause of bone cancers. (5)

Further study examining the effects of glycine on cadmium toxicity showed a significant reduction in the inflammatory response. (6)

Study researchers concluded by saying, “Our findings support the immense role of glycine as an antioxidant”. (7)

Glycine’s role in detoxification

We previously discussed glycine’s detoxification attributes via Nrf2 signalling and increase glutathione synthesis; interestingly glycine also possesses its own detoxification pathway.

Glycine can bind to many toxins and their metabolites, rendering these toxic byproducts relatively harmless and more water soluble allowing easier excretion via the urine. (8,9)

Glycine “detoxes” glyphosate (Roundup®); glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the World and carries an extensive list of health damaging attributes. Fortunately glycine found in our innovative Skin+Beyond product effectively detoxifies it.


Further glycine is a key amino acid in bile production, the other being taurine. Made in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, bile is needed for the breakdown of dietary fats. Further the production of bile acids is glycine dependent, while the bile acid cycle also functions as one of the body’s main detox pathways. (10)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Glycine suppresses the activation of different types of inflammatory cells including macrophages and neutrophils. A key mode of action glycine exerts is the modulation of the expression of the master inflammatory regulator, nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB) in many cells. (11)

COLLAGEN & ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

One in every three amino acids that make up collagen is glycine, which represents the rate limiting factor for collagen synthesis due to the fact that blood plasma levels are well under the required amounts as established by researchers.

Further collagen comprises one third of bodily protein, and with every third amino acid being glycine in the collagen matrix, this makes glycine the most abundant amino acid.

Taking 10g of glycine per day should increase collagen production by 200%

There are two other key amino acids required for collagen synthesis, namely proline and hydroxyproline. Fortunately these two amino acids tend to be optimal in blood plasma for collagen synthesis contrary to glycine levels which we have established are well below their optimal levels. Hence supplementing with 10g of glycine per day has proven to improve collagen synthesis by 200%. (12)

Glycine versus collagen

Some of the most obvious signs of the ageing process are attributed to the collagen rebuilding process losing its efficiency as we get older. In fact by the time we reach 25, the breakdown of collagen begins to overtake collagen renewal that manifests in wrinkles, sagging skin, lack of skin tone as well as an increased risk of joint problems including osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

To date the majority of anti-ageing research has focused on the internal and external uses of collagen peptides or gelatine hydrolysates since these materials have been isolated mainly from animal connective tissue and contain significant amounts of glycine. However as intuitive as it may seem, consuming collagen does not equal anywhere close to that collagen being available to the body mainly for 2 reasons;

  • When that collagen is broken down by the digestive tract in order to access the amino acids to be re-synthesised into collagen, but these amino acids can be used to make other amino acids that are needed in the body, so due to a complex hierarchical structure, they can be diverted for other needs
  • The amount of glycine metabolised from collagen hydrolysate or gelatine is insufficient for optimal collagen synthesis (13) eg. 10g of collagen in supplements provides only 2.5g of collagen and as we alluded to above the body will not use it all.

Although there have been positive results demonstrated in collagen or gelatine studies mainly due to the glycine component in the products, adding 10g of glycine per day would deliver many of the reported benefits from collagen or gelatine supplementation, but more effectively and less expensive.

Again glycine is the key amino acid in elastin synthesis since the other ones are abundant in the body.

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

A key player in the process of ageing are advanced glycation end products or AGEs, that are formed when glucose reacts with proteins that become damaged and produce toxic metabolites. These AGEs play a huge role in the gradual breakdown of collagen as we age, which leads to a loss of elasticity in connective tissues including skin and joints and vascular tissue in the lungs, heart and brain.

This process becomes particularly exacerbated in people with high blood glucose levels that are associated with high carb diets and as seen in diabetics where these AGEs trigger a highly damaging cycle of inflammation and oxidative stress, leading to many degenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s, cataracts, heart disease and kidney problems. (14) It’s not coincidental that diabetics suffer from the aforementioned conditions more than non-diabetics.

Fortunately glycine has demonstrated significant efficacy in reducing levels of glycation in diabetic rodents, in turn lowering the associated inflammation and oxidative stress. These improvements were also seen in the hearts of rats supplemented with glycine. (15)

Further glycine has demonstrated protective effects in the eyes, preventing cataracts and glycation induced damage of the lens proteins. (16)

SKIN

Glycine’s many skin boosting attributes are afforded by its glutathione, collagen and elastin boosting attributes and other modes of action:

Antioxidant
Glycine is a key amino acid in glutathione synthesis; glutathione is the master antioxidant that protects skin cells and their mitochondria (energy plants) from free radical and oxidative stress damage. It has even been postulated to be the rate limiting amino acid for glutathione production. (17)

“Detoxification”
Glycine “detoxes” Roundup®, a pervasive and highly toxic herbicide that takes up residence in connective tissues e.g. skin, gut, joints, and further destroys the gut microbiome, in turn causing body wide inflammation that affects the skin via the gut-skin axis. (18)

Protecting the gut from inflammatory insults will keep inflammation in check that can prevent damage to the dermis and epidermis layers of skin.

Collagen & Elastin
Glycine boasts collagen and elastin synthesis properties; in a 2018 study by Spanish researchers, it was found be boost collagen levels better than collagen, and is the rate limiting factor for collagen production. (19)

Anti-glycative
Glycine exhibits anti-glycative properties that protects collagen and elastin in skin from damage. (20)

Anti-inflammatory
Glycine protects the gut barrier, and its immune functions, as well as boosting microbial numbers, in turn preventing inflammation and potential leaky gut that can impact the skin negatively via the gut-skin axis. (21)

In fact glycine shows potent anti-inflammatory attributes in preventing and ameliorating bodily wide inflammation or chronic inflammation, and that includes skin. (22)

Immunity
Glycine displays immune protection, and this includes protecting the extracellular matrix (ECM) mainly made from collagen and elastin from invading pathogens e.g. viruses that decrease collagen and elastin synthesis and degrade these key skin proteins. (23)

Further the glutathione boosting ability of glycine also improves immunity via redox balancing and detoxification Glutathione can even prevent the inflammatory storm that causes organ failure in covid patients.
 
How do these qualities of glycine improve skin health?

  • Glycine’s glutathione boosting properties helps protect all layers of skin from free radical induced oxidative stress, in turn protecting the skin barrier, keeping skin hydrated and plump giving a brighter, healthier looking complexion.
  • Better hyaluronic acid (HLA) in the dermis that boosts HLA in both dermal and epidermal layers, keeping skin hydrated, stretchy and flexible, in turn reducing fine lines and wrinkles
  • Better collagen and elastin synthesis via glycine makes skin more elastic and firmer with less lines, wrinkles and sagging; further glycine (and pomegranate extract) protects the breakdown of collagen and elastin via glycation
  • Overall protection of skin from breakdown via the potent anti-inflammatory activity of glycine in protecting the gut, keeping inflammation in check that can damage the skin via the gut-skin axis

MUSCLE

Glycine being the key amino acid in collagen offers strength and structure to all connective tissues including muscle.

Glycine also aids muscle conservation in many common scenarios including ageing, poor diet and lack of nutrients, and stressful conditions e.g. cancer. (24)

Sarcopenia the loss of muscle mass and strength affects 1% to 30% of the general population, but is evident in about 40% of people with gut and digestive conditions e.g. including inflammatory bowel disease and cirrhosis. (25)

See under “Gut & Digestion” that discusses how glycine improves gut health and digestion, in turn alleviating gut induced sarcopenia.

NB See pomegranate blog on how pomegranate extract prevents and reverses sarcopenia.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Mounting evidence is showing that glycine exerts a protective effect on heart disease. (26)

Various studies compared different amino acids to how they affected cardiovascular events, and concluded that high intakes of certain amino acids demonstrate cardio protection; these include arginine, cysteine, glutamic acid, glycine, histadine, leucine and tyrosine. Researchers concluded that the aforementioned amino acids were associated with a 74% decrease in cardiovascular events. (27)

Further optimum glycine levels reduce the risk of acute myocardial infarction as well as correlating with a healthy lipid and anti-inflammatory profile in blood plasma.

One of glycine’s key mechanisms lies in the activation of glycine gated chloride channels found on numerous cell lines including liver cells, macrophages, lymphocytes, platelets, heart cells, and endothelial cells that also reside in arterial walls.

Glycine has been discovered to possess the following attributes; anti-inflammatory, immune modulator, cytoprotective, platelets stabilising and anti-angiogenesis effects in rat models. (28)

Further glycine demonstrates efficacy as a blood thinning therapeutic, but without the dangerous side effects that aspirin can cause:

  • A reduction in platelet aggregation or stickiness
  • An increase in bleeding time
  • An improvement in microcirculation
  • A reduction in inflammation

Hence the reason why researchers are saying in relation to heart disease, stroke and sudden death that;

Glycine supplementation in the diet represents an effective prevention mechanism in relation to diseases involving platelet aggregation and thrombosis. (29)

Glycine is a sweet heart
Part of the ageing process includes a reduction in heart function with associated arterial stiffening and reduced blood flow.

Further due to mitochondrial dysfunction in older hearts, the breakdown of fats becomes impaired, leaving glucose as the primary fuel source. Impressively glycine helps restore some of the hearts youthful function.

In a recent study using older mice, supplementation of glycine combined with N-acetylcysteine was shown to enhance many aspects of heart function as well as stimulate gene expression and energy production in heart mitochondria more akin to younger subjects. Further the heart cells regained their fat burning ability, which N-acetylcysteine did not offer on its own. (30)

Please read about our other key ingredient, pomegranate extract that positively impacts multiple mechanisms of heart function and health, so much so it’s often referred to as “the heart fruit.”

Cholesterol
Improved blood levels of glycine offer improved blood fat status and better inflammatory markers including reduced C-reactive protein scores, higher LDL and lower triglycerides. (31)

The increased production of triglyceride rich LDL in the liver is a feature of people who suffer from metabolic syndrome. A 2012 study showed that glycine can normalise the production of triglycerides from the liver and it is thought that this effect is achieved through glycine’s influence on the central nervous system, in turn normalising level signalling. (32)

A further study demonstrated that rats with metabolic syndrome when fed a diet of 1% glycine experienced lower body weight, lower fat percentage, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides or blood fats, lower appetite and fat storage hormones e.g. leptin and insulin and lower total fat composition. (33)

BRAIN

Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter and modulates neuronal activity, and its main activity is related to the inhibition of different brain regions. (34)

Glycine is also present in the spinal-cord and brainstem, acting as an inhibitory brain chemical using its own system of receptors that are ubiquitous across the whole nervous system, playing key roles in brain development. (35)

Ischemic stroke inflict damage to the brain via excitatory of the glutamate NMDA receptors combined with oxidative stress. Hence the reason why glycine’s neuroprotective and antioxidant attributes makes it a credible option for post stroke recovery. Several trials in Russia observed that giving 1g to 2g of glycine per day sublingual within 6 hours of a stroke for 5 days reduced oxidative stress and stabilised brain chemicals, reducing mortality within 30 days of the stroke. (36)

More recently a study found that glycine has the ability to protect neurons from death subsequent to a haemorrhagic stroke. (37)                    

PSYCHIATRIC/MENTAL

Glycine exhibits a range of psych disorders including:

Improving sleep  
Glycine has been demonstrated to improve sleep without interfering with the circadian clock or major sleep-wake hormones. Taking glycine before bedtime proved both subjective and objective sleep, and further sleep deprived study participants given glycine before bedtime showed better daytime performance than the control group. (38)

OCD
Glycine may have potential in alleviating OCD behaviour although the evidence is very scant. There was a documented study carried out in 2010 using a 22 year old who was put on high dose glycine for 5 years, where a substantial reduction in symptoms was observed. (39)

Schizophrenia
The potential of glycine in neurological conditions as a recent field of study, nevertheless the last few years has discovered that psychosis patients show abnormal levels of glycine and glutamate in the brain, coupled with the discovery that heavy alcohol users have shown an inverse relationship between brain glycine levels and the number of heavy drinking days.

Schizophrenia subjects have experienced a reduction in symptoms by using glycine. (40)

IMMUNITY

Glycine protects the gut mucosal barrier from damage and inflammation, which affects immune cells in the gut. (41) Further glycine protects the extracellular matrix from pathogens that cause damage to collagen and elastin, key components of all connective tissues. (42)

METABOLIC

Glycine has demonstrated its ability to influence multiple pathways that are implicated in the development of metabolic syndrome highlighting its potential use in preventing and treating metabolic type disorders such as obesity and type II diabetes.

Plasma levels of glycine are commonly found to be lower in patients with obesity and type II diabetes, and supplementing with glycine has demonstrated a range of anti-diabetic effects including the stimulation of insulin release. Further there is evidence that glycine binds to glucose, in turn reducing levels of glucose in the blood. (43)

Glycine positively influences many metabolic pathways
Glycine exerts an inhibitory effect on oxidative stress (see red in the diagram above), liver glucose production and food intake as well as enhancing (see green in the diagram above) hormonal and immune responses, methylation, improving detoxification and supporting mitochondrial function. (44)

Supplementing with glycine in obese mice has demonstrated better glucose tolerance and triglyceride (blood fats) levels, in turn helping to prevent body weight gain, fatty liver and associated information. Similar results were observed in rats given a high fat and sugar diet supplemented with glycine as well as added glycine were protected from liver damage.

Glycine also normalises blood glucose, fat metabolism and lowers inflammation. A study involving 60 adults with metabolic syndrome showed that dosing with 15g of glycine per day showed significant decreases in markers of oxidative stress accompanied by appreciable reductions in systolic blood pressure. (45)

NAFLD
Glycine exhibits protective effects on the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as demonstrated in a study where rats given glycine showed reduced harm from the effects of a high sugar diet as evidenced by improved liver markers, reduced oxidative stress and reduced the fat in the liver compared to non-glycine fed rats. (46)

Anti-diabetic

In a 2002 study supplementing with 5g of glycine per day improved both insulin response and glucose tolerance; healthy subjects showed more than a 50% reduction in blood glucose after taking glycine with food without changing insulin response.

In a further animal study rats with diabetes were given glycine for 6 months showed lower levels of glucose, lower total cholesterol, lower triacylglycerol and less glycation damaged
haemoglobin. (47)

A 3 month trial using type II diabetic patients, administering 5g of glycine per day showed an appreciable decrease in HbA1C and pro-inflammatory markers as well as an increase in IFN-gamma.

Rodent studies have recently shown that adding high glycine as a supplement reduce the negative effects of a high sugar diet, boosted mitochondrial function in the liver and normalise blood pressure and triglycerides (blood fats) as well as insulin, thus preventing an accumulation of abdominal fat. Further observations included improved glutathione (the body’s most powerful antioxidant) status, a lowering of oxidative stress and normalisation of vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels) that improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. (48)

Further glycine protected rats from diabetic cataracts via ant-glycative and antioxidant activity. (49)

GUT & DIGESTION

Glycine receptors are found on the intestinal lining, and when glycine is present, the receptors release a hormone called glycogen-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that creates many positive effects including lipid oxidation or fat burning for energy production in the liver and fullness signalling that reduces appetite.

Expression of glycine receptors has also been demonstrated to boost the mucosal barrier, protect against gut inflammation, oxidative stress and they plethora of toxins via different mechanisms, including enhanced synthesis of glutathione (the body’s most potent antioxidant). Further in a rodent study, glycine demonstrated protective properties in rat intestines in chemically induced colitis. (50)

Furthermore glycine has been demonstrated in a piglets study to be relevant in the development of the intestines, and that low levels of glycine and the lumen of the small intestine correlated with gut dysfunction. (51)

Gastric ulcers

Glycine supplementation has been demonstrated to protect the stomach from tissue injury and alcohol induced ulceration. The study results led researchers to conclude that glycine demonstrates impressive anti-ulcer and cytoprotective properties. (52)

Alcohol
Glycine shows protection from alcohol damage in the liver, lowers blood alcohol levels and reduces the levels of triglycerides (blood fatty acids) in the brain and liver as a result of alcohol toxicity.

Leaky gut and endotoxins
Glycine exerts protective effects against leaky gut, and in reducing or preventing gut toxins escaping through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream. Glycine can bind to these protein type toxins, thus dampening the inflammatory response caused by them. (53)

Although there is no specific research on glycine’s ability to prevent or reduce autoimmune conditions, by reducing or preventing leaky gut, you are in effect achieving this positive outcome. Leaky gut is the hallmark of autoimmunity. (54)

JOINTS & BONE

The ageing process depletes collagen that becomes more difficult to replace, and this is even more pronounced in arthritis sufferers where 40% of over 65s are affected. In these sufferers regeneration of damaged cartilage requires considerable collagen synthesis with recent research studies demonstrating that this is limited by the availability of glycine.

Dietary glycine is simply inadequate to rebuild collagen at the rates required to prevent loss and damage, and hence the need for glycine supplementation for collagen synthesis. (55)

Further bone is 30% collagen, hence the importance of collagen to bone density and health.

Tendon injuries difficult to treat due to less blood supply compared to other connective tissues. However study data demonstrates that glycine supplementation may be an effective treatment for subjects with inflammatory injuries in tendons including the Achilles, and other connective tissue damage and inflammatory conditions. (56)

In a more recent study analysis, it has been demonstrated that tenocytes, the primary tendon cells involved in tissue repair, respond positively to glycine by improving the remodelling process. (57)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

Glycine boosts athletic performance in various ways. (58)

Since blood levels of glycine peak rapidly after consuming, this categorises glycine as a “rapid protein” for exercise recovery. For this reason glycine should be taken straight after exercise to start the repair remodelling process of tendons, ligaments and joints by maximising collagen synthesis. (59)

Glycine’s effect on joints and bone make injury recovery quicker and prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

LIFESPAN

In a rodent study, researchers found that supplementing them with glycine led to a increase in lifespan of 5%; what’s even more interesting here is that the similar 5% increase and lifespan can be achieved through a diet low in methionine. (60)

 Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate has multiple modes of action influencing various bodily systems; hence the reason pomegranate, in particular the standardised extract offers a plethora of health benefits; recognising the potential of this remarkable fruit led to the creation of Skin+Beyond.

The following blog will showcase the therapeutic modes of action and benefits pomegranate extract (PE) has to offer. Backed up by over 3,000 studies on PubMed. PE exhibits many attributes including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, mitophagy (regeneration of cellular parts), autophagy, skin protection, hormone and gene regulation.

NB Patented, pomegranate extract (PE) is different to the fruit since it contains the key compounds linked to health in standardized amounts, mainly from the inedible peel.

ANTIOXIDANT

PE contains potent antioxidants, namely punicalagins that are not only unique to pomegranate, but possess powerful bioactive free radical scavenging properties, with Pomella® standardised to 30% punicalagins. (1)

PE upregulates Nrf2 activity, an important mediator of antioxidant signalling during inflammation by boosting antioxidant enzymes e.g. superoxide dismutase. (2)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Inflammation is the key driver of all ageing processes and not just skin, mediated at every stage of disease progression by nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB), the master inflammatory pathway.

Punicalagins found in PE not only demonstrate potent anti-oxidant activity, but anti- inflammatory by suppressing the master inflammatory pathway, NF-κB that is implicated in every chronic disease including skin ageing, cancers, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to name a few. (3)

PREBIOTIC

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent prebiotic properties that not only boosts gut health, but all areas of health.

PE polyphenols are converted into Urolithin-A by gut microbes. (4) This novel anti-ageing postbiotic improves mitophagy, the regeneration of the mitochondria or energy plants of the cells. (5) See under “Mitophagy” below.

PE polyphenols, especially punicalagins that are unique to pomegranate have put Urolithin- A in the higher echelons of health compounds with wide ranging benefits including skin, gut, joints, muscle, heart, brain, exercise performance and longevity to name a few.

Further PE via prebiotic action boosts akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic strain that protects the gut barrier from inflammatory damage and exerts weightloss, anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties as well as protecting the digestive tract from inflammatory/immune disorders e.g. IBD, Crohn’s. (6)

MITOPHAGY

Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root to most if not all conditions of ageing. (7)

Due to age and/or poor lifestyle factors, the mitochondria (energy plants of the cells) are not replaced or regenerated via mitophagy, causing a reduced output of cellular energy (ATP) and more free radicals. Combined they lead to ageing of different bodily systems e.g. skin, joints, heart, brain, muscle, immune etc.

Mitophagy represents a new paradigm in anti-ageing, courtesy of Urolithin-A and transcription factor EB, that is metabolized (in the gut) and upregulated respectively via pomegranate polyphenols. By optimising mitophagy, you are essentially giving your engine (mitochondria) a tune up that runs the car (body) better with less exhaust emissions (free radicals in cells).

AUTOPHAGY

Similar to mitophagy, but this clearing and recycling process involves other parts of the cells that have become senescent or aged, including toxic and damaged aggregated proteins that are the hallmarks of neurodegeneration.

Autophagy plays an important role when it comes to ageing and longevity. As a person ages, autophagy decreases, which can lead to a build-up of cellular junk parts that hamper normal cellular functioning, and cause inflammation and mitochondrial damage.

Transcription factor EB (TFEB) regulates autophagy. (8) See directly below.

TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR EB (TFEB)

Pomegranate extract or PE also shows a separate mechanism of improving or rebooting mitophagy by activating the gene regulator, Transcription Factor EB (TFEB) independent of the gut postbiotic, Urolithin-A. Singapore researchers made this remarkable finding in 2019. (9)

TFEB has widespread implications for health including neuroprotection, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory attributes. (10)

In fact improved expression of TFEB via pomegranate balances the immune response so effectively that it has been linked to the prevention of sepsis, a significant finding since sepsis has been implicated in 20% of global deaths. (11)

TFEB has been referred to as the master regulator of mitophagy (12) and autophagy. (13)

COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

PE protects dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) from UV damage similar to MitoQ, a £60 per month super antioxidant. This potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory activity gives PE the ability to boost collagen and elastin synthesis. (14)

NB Dermal fibroblasts provide the machinery for dermal hyaluronic acid or HA synthesis and should be the key priority in targeting skin hydration. Importantly HA from creams and ingestible formats is cleared quickly and degraded from the dermis. (15)

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

Glycation is a process caused by free radicals from stimuli such as UV light and sugars reacting with proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs); these AGEs damage keratin, collagen and elastin in connective tissues e.g. skin, joints, vascular system (heart, brain), resulting in premature ageing. In fact glycation is a major issue for diabetics. (16)

Pomegranate especially in the patented Pomella® extract form, is a natural AGE product inhibitor and anti-inflammatory agent, showing great potential as an anti-glycative agent, thus slowing the progression this damaging process. (17)

SKIN

Pomegranate offers so many mechanisms of action on skin health that it genuinely offers “All in one skin solution” that is 100% natural including the following:

Antioxidant

PE and specifically Pomella® exerts potent, synergistic effects on protecting keratinocytes from free radical induced oxidative damage. (18)

PE protects the collagen and elastin producing cells, the dermal fibroblasts from DNA damage caused by free radicals, specifically the DNA of mitochondria that generate cellular energy, the lifeforce of all bodily systems including skin.

Skin ageing researchers in the UK, made a remarkable finding when PE compared well to MitoQ, a patented super antioxidant when protecting against UV induced damage. Further PE has many other therapeutic properties other than antioxidant. (19)

NB This was an inferior pomegranate product, and PE has many more attributes than just antioxidant.

Further antioxidant action of PE bioactives prevent glycation that damages keratinocytes and alters ceramide (fats) production in the epidermis, and damages the collagen and elastin structures in the dermis and the extracellular matrix. (20)

Anti-inflammatory

The key polyphenol unique to PE, punicalagins exerts potent anti-inflammatory attributes on via the inhibition of NF-κB, TFEB upregulation and courtesy of its gut metabolite, Urolithin-A Inflammation drives more free radicals and oxidative stress, leading to damage to epidermis and dermis layers of skin. (21)

Prebiotic

PE also boosts skin barrier integrity via the prebiotic action in the gut that influences the skin via the gut-skin axis. It does this by making Urolithin-A that exerts gut barrier protection, which is anti-inflammatory, in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (22)

Further PE boosts the novel probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that also exerts gut barrier protection, that is anti-inflammatory in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (23)

Mitophagy

PE improves mitophagy via the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and upregulation of the gene expressor, transcription factor EB (TFEB). Both keratinocytes (keratin) and dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin) benefit from regenerating their mitochondria or energy plants via the mitophagy process that declines with age and/or poor lifestyle. (24)

Autophagy

If senescent cells and aggregated proteins are not cleared in the ECM due to a breakdown in autophagy, mitochondrial damage will result, thus effecting collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid synthesis.

Autophagy plays a key role in the health of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts, thus optimising keratin, collagen and elastin production. (25)

Fortunately pomegranate extract or PE via the upregulation of transcription factor EB (TFEB) stimulates autophagy. (26)

Collagen and Elastin Synthesis

Pomegranate extract or PE boosts collagen synthesis by protecting the dermal fibroblasts from oxidative damage and improving mitophagy. This amazing finding has only come to light recently and it represents a paradigm shift in bodily ageing. This study showed in relation to skin urolithin A increased type 1 collagen expression and reduced MMP-1 expression. (27)

NB MMP-1 is largely responsible for collagen and elastin degradation along with glycation.

Anti-Glycative

PE prevents and slows glycation, a process caused by environmental stimuli e.g. UV rays and where sugar in the form of circulating glucose reacts with proteins, in turn forming advanced glycation end products or AGEs that damage the collagen matrix in skin as well as other areas such as joints; PE inhibits glycation significantly. (28)

PE and its polyphenols have been shown to prevent methylglyoxal (MGO) induced DNA damage of keratin producing cells (keratinocytes), and boost collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the extracellular matrix. (29)

NB Damage to keratin via AGE products also affects the structure and production of ceramides. Although PE does not directly boost ceramide production, it indirectly does and the niacinamide in Skin+Beyond boosts ceramide synthesis by 34%. (30)

This in turn helps to retain moisture and skin barrier integrity, thus maintaining firmness and protecting skin from environmental insults that cause inflammation and associated damage.

How do these qualities of PE improve skin health?

Please note there may be references to other extracts, but they have the same amounts of the key bioactive compounds e.g. 30% punicalagins.

  • PE boosts water content by +51% in the stratum corneum, and +40% increase in skin hydration overall since PE boosts the production of hyaluronic acid that has impressive water retention properties (31)
  • Pomegranate boosts hyaluronic acid (HA) in the extracellular matrix by 50%, and prevents cross Cross linkages prevent removal of damaged collagen (32)

NB The extracellular matrix or ECM that makes up over 70% of the skin, is the key player in repairing and regenerating the skin. (33)

  • PE reduces wrinkle volume or depth by -26% and skin roughness by -31% (34)
  • PE boosts blood microcirculation by reducing blood vessel permeability; this increases nutrient, water and oxygen delivery to the skin layers, in turn improving radiance (35)
  • PE reduces the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation and inhibits tyrosinase to decrease melanogenesis, reducing both melanocytes and melanosomes (36)
  • PE can be helpful for severe cases of acne, especially when it’s inflammatory driven evidenced by papules and pustules. By reducing inflammation in the gut via S+B prebiotic action, you will alleviate all inflammatory linked skin conditions (37)
  • PE protects against free radicals and oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors e.g. UV sunlight, pollution and toxins (38)
  • PE improves skin tone and reduces dark spots and blemishes (39)
  • Pomegranate extract also has been proven to boost hair health; the researchers found better hair strength, increased hair density and thickness, and an improved speed of hair growth in the participants (40)

HORMONE

Pomegranate extract or PE promotes hormone health since it contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant kingdom; hence the reason it is a boon for postmenopausal women; further PE boosts healthy estrogen in younger women, and prevents xenoestrogens (toxic metabolites) from chemicals and other products e.g. plastics

Pomegranate extract or PE offers postmenopausal protection from osteoporosis, heart disease, moods and hormone cancers e.g. breast; these benefits extend to all women. (41)

MUSCLE

Longevity is very dependent on the amount of muscle you have! Sarcopenia is a muscle wasting condition that accelerates over 40, and is central to chronic decline and early

mortality. Believe it or not muscle wastage is linked to cognitive decline and even dementia. (42)

Pomegranate extract or PE makes Urolithin-A in the gut, which boosts mitophagy that prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in preventing chronic decline and improving longevity. (43)

Further Urolithin-A actually boosts NAD+ levels and upregulates the sirtuin-1 gene in skeletal muscle. NAD+ is a crucial co-factor in cellular energy production or ATP in the mitochondria.(44)

NB The sirtuin-1 gene is central to longevity, and NAD+ is often referred to as “The biggest discovery in regenerative medicine” or “The secret of life and anti-ageing”. Importantly niacinamide, another ingredient in Skin+Beyond is an effective precursor for making NAD+. No need for expensive NR and NMN precursors.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Pomegranate is often referred to as “The heart fruit” due to its positive effect on multiple factors that lead to heart disease and stroke. effective multiple mechanisms of action, including the reduction of arterial plaque by 36% in one year and that includes the carotid arteries supplying the brain with blood, in turn preventing and reducing the risk of stroke as well as heart attack. (45)

There is no such thing as bad cholesterol; oxidized cholesterol (oxLDL), a key factor in heart disease, is when LDL becomes oxidised or damaged due to inflammation from poor lifestyle. A further study showed a 59% reduction in oxidised cholesterol (oxLDL), a more accurate predictor of arteriosclerosis and associated heart attacks compared to LDL cholesterol. Further the study showed: (46)

  • 130% increase in antioxidant capacity
  • 21% reduction in systolic blood pressure
  • 39% improvement in arterial plaque in one year

BRAIN

Due to various stimuli e.g. toxins, infections, gut inflammation (gut-brain axis), neurons come under assault via oxidative stress, inflammation and free radicals. Resultant neuroinflammation results from overstimulated microglia, the immune cells of the brain and key protectors of neurons. (47)

Pomegranate extract or PE has been demonstrated in a recent study to control (balance) microglia activation and dampen neuroinflammation, in turn protecting brain cells from further damage in an Alzheimer’s model. (48)

Further autophagy helps clear these toxic, aggregated proteins. When autophagy is dysfunctional in microglia, phagocytosis (clearing damaged cells and toxic proteins) breaks down and neuroinflammation ensues, leading to neurodegeneration.

Autophagy is boosted by the upregulation of Transcription Factor EB or TFEB (49), which in turn is upregulated by pomegranate extract or PE polyphenols as identified by researchers from Singapore in 2019. (50)

Another key factor in the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration is mitochondrial dysfunction. Caused by environmental stimuli induced oxidative stress and inflammation, and the breakdown in mitophagy system that removes and regenerates the damaged mitochondria, the energy plants of the cells. (51)

Pomegranate upregulates or boosts mitophagy via the production of the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and the upregulation of the gene expresser, TFEB. Further the pomegranate metabolite, Urolithin-A exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect neurons and their mitochondria (energy plants), in turn preventing the chronic microglia response (overreaction) that causes neuroinflammation, protein aggregate formation, and potential neuronal damage and loss. (52,53)

Glycation plays a role in the formation of amyloid protein aggregates, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, and further amyloid proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients show evidence of glycation. This is significant when you consider that pomegranate prevents and retards glycation (see under “Anti-glycative”) and prevents the formation of amyloid plaques or deposits via microglial inhibition and autophagy as discussed here.

Interestingly the researchers in this study concluded that oxidative stress causes both

glycation and amyloid protein formation, and therefore effective treatment strategies could include antioxidants, and in particular polyphenols that are well studied for proven for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes. (54)

The gut-brain connection

It’s often overlooked that the gut and brain are dependent on each other for optimum health via the gut-brain axis making the gut microbiome a key player not only in preventing neurodegenerative and mental health conditions; hence the reason the gut is often referred to as “The second brain”. (55)

When the good to bad microbes in the gut become imbalanced known as gut dysbiosis, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response that migrates to the brain via the vagus nerve and in the case of gut barrier damage via the bloodstream.

If gut dysbiosis and associated gut inflammation is left unchecked, the intestinal barrier can be breached, often referred to as leaky gut syndrome, in turn allowing microbes, undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream. This prompts a chronic immune response and inevitable autoimmunity that causes a plethora of disease states e.g. irritable bowel disease Crohn’s, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, MS, MND, Alzheimer’s.

The prebiotic activity of PE has three mechanisms of action:

  • The gut metabolite, Urolithin-A protects the gut from inflammation and damage, which in turn prevents neurological and psychiatric problems via the gut-brain axis or leaky gut (56)
  • PE boosts the numbers of akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic that protects the gut barrier, in turn preventing damage and resultant inflammation and gut barrier permeability that causes brain inflammation (57)
  • Boosting of probiotic numbers including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria family strains keeps a healthy balance of good to bad microbes (58)

IMMUNITY

Pomegranate improves immunity via multiple mechanisms of action. Mitophagy (via Urolithin-A and TFEB) or the regeneration of mitochondria to prevent uncontrolled immune responses such as chronic inflammatory chemical release and excess immune cell activation. The key is a balanced response to threats. (59)

Gut health equals immune health since 70% of immune cells are made in the gut. The potent prebiotic activity of PE promotes gut health. (60) See above under “Brain”.

Further PE upregulates TFEB that in turn improves immune health, so much so it has been shown to prevent sepsis, a pervasive condition due to imbalanced immune response, that can be deadly. (61)

GUT & DIGESTION

Prebiotic action of pomegranate polyphenols as outlined above under “Brain” protect both the gut and beyond the gut into the digestive tract; worthy of special note is the novel gut microbe akkermansia muciniphila (AKKM) boosted by pomegranate polyphenols. (62)

AKKM consumes mucin in the gut wall, in turn releasing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that protects the digestive tract including the colon from inflammatory disorders (IBD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s) and cancers including colon. (63)

METABOLIC HEALTH

Pomegranate improves metabolic health by exhibiting cardiovascular (See under “Cardiovascular”), anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. It does so via a range of modes of action e.g. anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic. However rising star in metabolic health is the exciting probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that is boosted by pomegranate polyphenols and exerts its metabolic enhancing attributes through its actions in the gut and digestive tract. (64), (65)

JOINTS

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts multiple modes of action on preventing and improving joint and bone disorders.

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) in joints and bone from free radical induced oxidative damage. (66)

PE boosts collagen synthesis and inhibits collagen and elastin degrading enzymes (MMPs), in turn boosting and protecting the health of joints and bone. Further PE exhibits ant- glycative properties, in turn protecting connective tissue from this other degrading process affecting connective tissues. (6768)

PE upregulates the gene encoder, transcription factor EB or TFEB that improves mitophagy (similar to Urolithin-A) and autophagy, in turn protecting joints and bones from degenerative disorders including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. (69)

Further pomegranate contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant World; post- menopausal women are low in oestrogen, which is also linked to joint and bone conditions. (70,71)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

As well as the joint and bone promoting properties of PE (See under “Joints”); PE has potent sports performance and recovery attributes. (72)

LIFESPAN

The pomegranate gut metabolite Urolithin-A promotes NAD+ and Sirt-1 gene expression, both linked to increased muscle mass and increased lifespan. (73)

Further Urolithin-A prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in longevity. Hence the reason Urolithin-A also increased the lifespan of c. elegans worms. (74)

CANCER

Pomegranate extract or PE demonstrates potent anti-cancer activity in many cancers including breast, colon, prostate, skin and lung. (75)

Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Benefits of Sea Buckthorn

Sea Buckthorn - The little orange berry used for luscious locks, glowing skin and much more!

Sea Buckthorn - The little orange berry used for luscious locks, glowing skin and much more!

Chances are you haven’t heard of sea buckthorn, the plant Greeks named “Pegasus fruit” after the winged horse feasted on its berries. As legend has it, there was a source of healing power to be gained along with a gleaming coat for any horse that indulged on them.

Today many people are praising it for its health benefits, including better hair and skin, improved cardiovascular health and increased immune function.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at this nutritional powerhouse and discover why it deserves special consideration as part of a healthy lifestyle choice.

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5 Ways to Treat Stressed Skin During Covid-19

5 Ways to Treat Stressed Skin During Covid-19

5 Ways to Treat Stressed Skin During Covid-19

Nobody warned you that your skin would go haywire during lockdown, did they? But being cooped up at home takes its toll on the body, as we all know. And our skin bears the brunt of this.

The lack of sunlight, sleep, fresh air, routines, balanced diets, and clear work schedules makes for a perfect storm. Together, these stressors can affect our skin. And our worries, fears, and emotional turbulence only make matters worse.

While psychological stress probably won't cause your skin to break out the minute you go over your deadline at work, dermatologists would argue that there is a close link between skin health and emotional health. Stress triggers the brain to release hormones like cortisol and other chemicals that affect the immune system. They can interfere with the skin's natural barrier and make it harder for it to heal itself.

But the opposite is also true. Skin disease can lead to distress, long-term confidence issues and anxiety. In other words, don't worry; you'll only make it worse – which happens to be the one thing nobody wants to hear when they need help.

So, how can you protect your precious complexion from the stresses of Covid-19? The answer is with a well-thought-out skin regimen.

Mind Your Minerals


Minerals don’t get nearly enough credit for their wholesome effects on the skin. One mineral in particular, magnesium, can do you a world of good if you have dry and damaged skin.

And if you want to have that coveted ‘healthy glow’ everyone keeps talking about, magnesium is the go-to mineral. Best of all, you don’t need to go out of your way to have it. Magnesium can be absorbed transdermally.

So, make a habit of sprinkling some bath salts whenever you have a pampering soak. Better yet, replace your nightly top-to-toe lotion with a mineral-rich body butter. As a bonus, it relaxes your muscles, so you’ll probably sleep more soundly.

Vitamins Speak Volumes


Taking vitamins when you don’t have a deficiency won’t make the least bit of difference. However, these are unusual times. So, if you think your skin has been starved of sunlight and nutrients, you might want to consider supplementing your nutrient intake with some of the following vitamins.

  • Vitamin D is the sun’s gift to your skin. It helps prevent skin ageing. And it’s produced naturally when you expose the skin to natural sunlight – within limits. A 15-minute daily stroll is all it takes for you to tick vitamin D off the list, providing there is sufficient sunlight. But if you can’t commit to this daily ritual (e.g. you’re self-isolating) or the weather’s not playing ball, take a vitamin D supplement instead.
  • Niacinamide is an essential nutrient found in plants and a form of vitamin B-3 (niacin). It helps build keratin, a protein that keeps the skin firm. It also helps even out the complexion, rid you of blemishes, and close the pores. It can be used to help soothe and clear acne, meaning many moisturizers and acne treatments include this ingredient.
  • Vitamin C is naturally available in the skin in high concentrations. It stimulates the synthesis of collagen. It offers antioxidant protection against photodamage. It recycles oxidised vitamin E. Also, it decreases melanin synthesis, which is the process that leads to age spots. So, you’ll find it on the ingredient list of many anti-aging serums.
  • Retinol, a form of vitamin A, can also be used to reverse the signs of skin aging, such as fine lines, age spots, and wrinkles. Some dermatologists recommend using only lotions that come with encapsulated retinol. The reasoning behind it is because is penetrates deeper into the skin layers, which makes it more effective and less likely to cause side-effects like irritation.

Moisturise More

Drinking water is a great way to hydrate and plump up the skin. But moisturisers can also lend a hand by gradually repairing the skin barrier.

Also, some moisturisers are reinforced with wholesome ingredients like ginger root, honey, and ceramides. Others are tailor-made for sensitive skin.

And there’s no shortage of face serums with exotic sounding ingredients, such as grape water or rose water, which are particularly soothing and refreshing when chilled. But don’t stop here. Leave no stone unturned in your journey to better skincare and make your creams work for you while you sleep.

After a gentle facial massage to help with lymphatic drainage and improve circulation, make sure to apply a night-time recovery cream.

Ramp Up Your UV Defences

Sunlight is a blessing as well as a curse. UV radiation from the sun speeds up the breakdown of collagen, causing the skin to lose elasticity, sag, and age faster.

So, if you’re planning to spend an extended period in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin with a lotion that features a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF).

And if you can’t wear a good SPF lotion, plenty of foundations, primers, and compact powders come with a decent SPF rating.

Do You – The Whole You

Above all, make an effort to get to the root of your emotional stress. Try to engage in more relaxing activities like yoga, aromatherapy, and breathing exercises. They can help switch off your sympathetic nervous system (which triggers your fight-flight-freeze response) and activate the parasympathetic one.

This will lower your cortisol levels gradually and naturally; and you don’t even need to leave the house to do it.

Finally, make sure you continue caring for your skin after lockdown. Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Enjoy your beauty sleep every day, so your skin has time to heal itself. Stay hydrated by drinking at least two litres of water a day, so your skin cells don’t shrivel up, and make sure you’re drinking good-quality water.

Without a holistic approach, your skin regimen can only go so far.

About the author: Claire Williams is the owner of Meadows Skincare, who hand-make natural skincare fresh from the dairy farm.  

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Depressed, Low Immunity, Acne or Cold Sores? You Might Need Zinc

Depressed, Low Immunity, Acne or Cold Sores? You Might Need Zinc

Depressed, Low Immunity, Acne or Cold Sores? You Might Need Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral, and this blog is going to give you some necessary zinc knowhow. How to identify if you need it, how to take it, and what you can use it for.

While there is strong evidence to support the role of zinc for depression, immunity, acne and herpes simplex (including cold sores), it has many other uses. It may also benefit other conditions, including ADHD, sickle cell anaemia, hypothyroidism and sleep disturbances.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 2 billion people in the world are estimated to be deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc.

Worldwide, zinc deficiency is responsible for approximately 16% of lower respiratory tract infections, 18% of malaria and 10% of diarrhoeal disease. In total, 1.4% (0.8 million) of deaths worldwide are attributable to zinc deficiency: 1.4% in males and 1.5% in females. Zinc deficiency accounts for about 2.9% of worldwide loss of healthy life years.

What is zinc, and why do we need it?

Zinc is the most abundant trace element within our cells and has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. It plays a vital role in the activity of over 300 enzymes in the body and is essential for catalysing chemical reactions, metabolism, protein structure, and the regulation of gene expression. 

The average adult body contains 2% zinc, 90% of which is found mainly in the skeletal muscles and bones with the remainder located in most other cells of the body including the blood cells, teeth, liver, kidneys, pancreas, prostate and testes.

Zinc is also one of the most abundant trace minerals in the brain. 

Zinc is an integral part of a large number of metalloenzymes. One of note is Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) which has an antioxidant effect, regularly helping to break down superoxide radicals which can be damaging if too many accumulate in your cells. 

You also need zinc for essential cell growth and reproduction, immune function, wound healing, bone formation, skin, hair and nail production and your sense of taste and smell.

It can also help protect against prostatitis and is essential in sperm health and formation.

Zinc consumption in steep decline

You can easily become deficient in zinc, and your body doesn’t store it either, so you need to stock up regularly.

Apparently, in the last 60 years, our zinc consumption has declined to less than the average intake during rationing in World War II. This may partly be due to a higher rate of vegetarians and generally consuming less red meat (although you can stock up as a vegetarian).

A rise in processed foods, modern farming methods and soil depletion may also be to blame.

Causes of zinc deficiency

Severe zinc deficiency is still found in developing countries. However, mild zinc deficiency is often overlooked. It’s more common and can be hard to diagnose as it regularly occurs with other micronutrient deficiencies, including iron. 

An inadequate diet can cause a deficiency. Another cause is malabsorption due to GI conditions including Crohn’s disease, short bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, chronic diarrhoea and gastrointestinal viruses. 

Zinc may also be lost due to excessive excretion through the urine or pancreatic secretions for reasons such as chronic liver, kidney or pancreatic disease including diabetes, alcoholism and the overuse of diuretics

Sickle cell disease, pregnancy and breastfeeding, too much iron, copper or calcium in the body, starvation or eating too many foods with a high phytate content can inhibit zinc absorption.

The elderly can be more prone to zinc deficiency, especially if they are in care. Those being fed intravenously for long periods can also have insufficient levels.

It’s important to note that modern and intensive farming methods deplete the nutrients and minerals in the soil. This directly impacts mineral levels in the crops we eat.

Added to which, processing methods which strip the zinc content from cereal grains can also contribute to a deficiency. Eating organic may help to boost your levels as farming practices encourage more fertile soil with increased nutrients.

Zinc deficiency signs and symptoms

Deficiency symptoms vary depending on how insufficient your levels are. 

More severe symptoms can include sexual and skeletal immaturity, slowing of growth and development, neuropsychiatric disorders, alopecia, chronic diarrhoea, dermatitis, vulnerability to infections and loss of appetite. 

Deficiency can also result in paronychia (an infection of the skin in the nail fold), anorexia, weight loss, macular degeneration, impaired sense of taste and smell, poor wound healing, acne, learning disorders, mild anaemia, reproductive disorders, infertility and depression.

Milder symptoms can be dry or rough skin, dull hair, white spots on and brittle fingernails, mood swings, reduced adaptation to darkness, tinnitus, stretch marks, and poor memory.

Babies from mothers with zinc deficiency during pregnancy may be at increased risk for congenital disabilities and low birth weight. At the same time, those from poor, urban environments can also have an added risk of premature birth.

Worried your zinc is low? Take a zinc taste test

One way to get an indication of whether your zinc is low is to take a zinc taste test. It’s a simple non-invasive test that you can easily buy online. You add a solution containing zinc to water and drink it.

The liquid relies on your body having enough zinc to detect the mineral within the drink. Depending on the taste, it will give you an idea of where your zinc levels lie.

You need more zinc if:

• You have an inadequate dietary intake due to poor eating habits, fad, weight loss, or exclusion diets, or a restrictive vegetarian or vegan diet. You may also be deficient if you are elderly with a reduced appetite, finding it harder to eat balanced and varied foods. 

• You don’t absorb zinc effectively enough due to poor gut health and digestive conditions including Crohn’s, coeliac disease or short bowel syndrome, alcoholic cirrhosis or pancreatic insufficiency. Acrodermatitis enteropathica, a rare, inborn, autosomal recessive disease is a disorder of primary zinc malabsorption.

• You are at risk of zinc deficiency if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, a growing child or teenager, an older breastfeeding child. Also, if you are an alcoholic, are anorexic, have chronic renal disease or sickle cell anaemia, are older than 65, have persistent diarrhoea, or are being fed intravenously. Premature and low birth weight infants are also at risk.

What is zinc good for?

Zinc has been used therapeutically for hormone imbalance, ADHD, acne, herpes simplex virus, general immune function, sickle cell anaemia, diarrhoea, Wilson’s disease, the common cold, age-related macular degeneration and hypothyroidism. 

Research continues for the use of zinc in various blood disorders, cancer, appetite stimulation, Celiac disease, chemotherapy side effects, closed head injuries, cognitive disorders and function, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. 

Immunity

We need zinc for efficient cell signalling and immune cell function. So, if you find that you are getting recurring bouts of illness such as coughs, colds or flu, you may need to up your zinc levels.

For example, one meta-analysis found that supplementing with zinc lozenges between 70mg and 100mg daily, shortened the common cold by 33%. Evidence suggests that zinc will be most effective when taken within 24 hours after cold symptoms start.

Low zinc status is relatively common in the elderly and can contribute to lowered immunity. Research for zinc supplementation to improve immune function in the ageing is ongoing, and while mixed, there have been some positive results.

One study found that elderly care home residents with insufficient zinc levels are more susceptible to pneumonia. Other studies have also found that zinc supplementation in the elderly can have a positive effect on the action of T-cells (white blood cells key to the immune response).

Another study found that supplementing with 25mg of zinc daily over three months in people over 65 years of age improved helper T-cell and cytotoxic T-cell function, improving their cell-mediated response and immunity.

Wound Healing

We know that zinc improves immunity, and this is part of the reason why it helps to accelerate wound healing.

It also helps to stimulate collagen production and has an anti-inflammatory action which encourages effective healing. Studies show that zinc supplementation can speed up the healing of skin ulcers.

It plays a vital role in regulating every phase from membrane repair, oxidative stress, coagulation, inflammation and immune defence, to tissue repair, the formation of new blood vessels and scar formation. 

Depression, mood changes and brain function

Zinc is one of the most abundant trace minerals in the brain, and low levels are linked to depression.

Essentially, zinc acts as a neuronal messenger and is vital for healthy brain function, memory and learning, regulating mood and preventing conditions like depression, hyper-anxiety and other mood disorders. 

Zinc helps to break down food during digestion, and low levels can also contribute to poor gut health. Zinc deficiency can slow everything down, causing food to decay in the digestive tract, bringing symptoms like constipation along with it, as well as a reduced appetite.

Your gut and mental health have a very close, symbiotic relationship, so this is another way that depleted zinc levels can alter your mood.

Zinc is also exceptionally good at aiding the digestion of proteins. We need proteins for keeping feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine working in the brain. So if you can’t digest proteins effectively, your cognitive function may suffer.

Acne

There appears to be a correlation between low zinc levels and acne. The amount of zinc depletion may reflect on the severity and type of lesions for people with acne vulgaris.

Your body needs to use zinc to calm inflammation of the nodules and cysts, so if you are already depleted, this could make matters worse.

Either way, if you suffer from acne, you could benefit from supplementing with zinc due to its anti-inflammatory benefits, it may also help to prevent bacterial growth and reduce oil production.

Herpes simplex

Current research supports the topical application of zinc sulfate for the treatment of genital herpes.

One study found that it may also prolong periods of remission. The most effective percentage of zinc sulfate was 4%. It may also be an effective treatment for oral herpes. 

Type 2 diabetes

Zinc and insulin (the primary hormone linked to blood sugar balance) are closely related. Zinc is released with insulin when blood glucose concentrations increase. It also stimulates glucose uptake and metabolism by insulin-sensitive tissues.

Research is mixed, but there have been some positive studies. The Nurses Health Study tracked 82,297 American nurses over 24 years.

The analysis showed that there was an 8% lower risk of diabetes in those with the highest dietary zinc intake (on average 11.8mg a day versus 4.9mg a day).

A similar Australian study following 8,921 women over six years found a 50% lower risk of diabetes in those with a higher zinc intake. 

There are several studies linking zinc supplementation to improved glucose handling in people with established diabetes but less showing an effect on pre-diabetics.

A 2016 study on 55 Bangladeshi pre-diabetic patients gave half the group 30mg of zinc daily, and the rest took a placebo. After six months, the zinc group had significantly improved fasting blood glucose concentration compared to the placebo group. Their beta-cell function, insulin sensitivity and insulin resistance all showed a statistically significant improvement as well. 

Osteoporosis

 Low zinc intake appears to be linked to lower bone mass. Taking a zinc supplement in combination with copper, manganese and calcium might also decrease bone loss in women who have passed menopause.

Dietary sources of zinc

It’s easier to obtain zinc from animal sources, but it’s also present in plant-based foods. In pure zinc terms, eating a balanced and varied diet including some organic grass-fed lean red meat, fruit, vegetables, pulses and cereal grains should provide you with enough zinc.

Zinc is most prevalent in high protein foods with oysters being the most abundant source – they have as much as 148.7 mg of zinc per 100g serving. Other foods include red meat, poultry, liver, heart and other shellfish.

Leafy and root vegetables can be a good source, but it depends on the soil in which they are grown. Legumes and whole grains, pulses, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower, fresh root ginger and some dairy products including yogurt, milk, cheese and eggs also contain zinc. It is also found in fortified breakfast cereal.

Foods that inhibit zinc absorption

Foods with a high phytate content can inhibit zinc absorption. Phosphorus-rich phytic acid is found in grains, beans, legumes and nuts (which are also plant sources of zinc).

While phytates aren’t all bad, they also inhibit our absorption of other minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper and iron.

Phytates can also hinder certain digestive enzymes, making it harder for us to break down and utilize our food, while potentially causing gastrointestinal disturbances.

If you get bloated after eating beans, or quinoa, for example, it could be the phytic acid that is the problem. 

You can reduce the phytate level in these foods by soaking them for up to 24 hours before cooking (some grains like buckwheat and quinoa can soak for a shorter amount of time).

You need an acidic agent like apple cider vinegar and hot water to help break the phytates down, plus a warm spot in the kitchen. There’s plenty of information online on how to do this.

Things to consider when taking a zinc supplement

It’s essential to get the balance right, as zinc and copper can decrease the absorption of each other in the GI tract. 

Excess iron, copper and calcium may inhibit the absorption of zinc. If you’re taking both an iron and zinc supplement, they should be taken apart from each other to avoid interfering with their activity.

Also, be aware of drug interactions. For example, ACE inhibitors may decrease the levels of zinc in the blood.

The diuretic called Amiloride (Midamor) may increase zinc in the blood, and zinc supplements are not advised while taking it.

Excess zinc can inhibit the absorption of two different types of antibiotics known as Tetracyclines and Quinolones. It can also inhibit the absorption of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).

The list goes on, so always check with your doctor before supplementing.

The daily RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake) for zinc

These are the current Reference Nutrient Intakes per person per day for Zinc:

Infants up to 7 months: 4mg

Children aged 7 months to 3 years: 5mg

Children aged 4 to 6 years: 6.5mg

Children aged 7 to 10 years: 7mg

Males aged 11 to 14 years: 9mg

Males aged 15 to 50+ years: 9.5mg

Females aged 11 to 14 years: 9mg

Females aged 15 to 50+: 7mg

Pregnant females aged 16 to 50 years: 7 mg

The Department of Health advises that zinc supplements should not exceed 25 mg a day. 

The Tolerable Upper Intake for zinc is 40mg daily. This is for ages 19 and over and applies to zinc intake from food and supplements.

However, always check with a nutritional therapist, naturopath or another health professional before taking a higher dose.

Conclusion

Zinc has profound antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, not to mention the epic amount of different jobs it’s essential for in your body. It can be used therapeutically, alongside other necessary treatments, for several conditions, and there is much continuing and encouraging research.

Amongst other things, it activates your immune system and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. It can also shorten the duration of a cold and speed wound healing. Positive research has shown that the elderly with depleted zinc levels can benefit from supplementation, boosting T-cell function, the white blood cells key to the immune response.

Researchers have also linked normal zinc levels with a reduced risk of pneumonia in the elderly. Being one of the most abundant trace minerals in the brain, low levels of zinc can contribute to low mood, depression and reduced cognitive function. Zinc may also help improve acne, cold sores, and strengthen bones while helping to improve insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetics and pre-diabetics. 

If you’re worried your zinc is low, you can experiment with a zinc taste test which can give you an indication of where your levels lie. It’s always best to get your nutrients, including zinc, from food but you can supplement if you feel it’s warranted. However, be aware of your dosage and consult a health professional if you go above the daily RNI. Always ask your doctor before taking zinc if you have a chronic condition and are taking medication. 

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist andHomeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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young woman with smooth skin

7 Valuable Nutrients That Help Skin Health from the Inside Out

7 Valuable Nutrients That Help Skin Health from the Inside Out

Your skin is a reflection of how healthy you are on the inside. Just think about how dull and lacklustre it can look when you’re stressed out, unwell or after a miserable night's sleep.

An unhealthy diet, hormone imbalance, poor gut health and inflammation, and sluggish detoxification can all contribute to problematic skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis.

What you eat has a massive impact on your health and wellbeing. So while you might have a beauty serum you swear by, and what you apply to your skin is important, a healthy glow really does stem from the inside. I

f you want to look and feel good, what you feed your body counts; eating the right foods and taking a few well-chosen supplements can build sturdy foundations and provide unparalleled long-term benefits for your skin.

1) Water


If you want healthy, glowing skin and a clear complexion, make sure you drink enough water

Adequate hydration is essential for good health. Every cell, tissue and organ need and use it, and without it, we can’t function.

Water hydrates all your tissues, flushes out toxins and aids digestion which all helps to keep your skin looking fresh.

There’s no fixed daily amount as we are all different, but aim for roughly two litres a day – more if you are pregnant or exercising. Listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.

Alkaline, hydrogen-rich, filtered water is a cut above normal tap water. It’s rich in beneficial minerals, free from chlorine and heavy metals, well-structured and has antioxidant properties.  

You can also apply it directly to your skin with Biocera Hydrogen Water Mist which generates mineral-rich, natural antioxidant hydrogen water with a long-lasting moisturising effect.

If your skin could do with a pick-me-up, breathe deeply, close your eyes and spray this over your face and neck. It’s refreshing and provides a rejuvenating lift to tired, dehydrated skin.

2) Healthy omega-3 fats and fish oils


The typical Western diet promotes an unhealthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Too much omega-6 increases inflammation, affecting your overall and skin health.

Eating plenty of healthy omega-3 fats can help to improve your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6, providing anti-inflammatory benefits to encourage healthy skin

Research shows that the fatty acids found in oily fish have the potential to improve skin barrier function and inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation. They can relieve dry skin and pruritus brought on by dermatitis, accelerate skin wound healing, and help prevent skin cancer development. 

The EPA and DHA in fish oils have anti-ageing effects which improve your skin tone, keep it hydrated, plumper and radiant. EPA has the power to protect collagen from UV damage, preventing premature ageing. 

Fish oils aid cell wall flexibility so that you can receive nutrients and expel toxins more effectively. Healthy cells mean you’re more vital on every level with increased immunity, energy and longevity.

This will undoubtedly be reflected in your skin as well. They improve hair and nail quality too.

Ideally, you should eat oily fish three times a week, but if this is difficult, you might prefer to take a good quality fish oil supplement

Not a fish eater? Eat walnuts, the king of nuts when it comes to omega-3 fats. They also provide other beneficial nutrients for your skin like zinc, and trace amounts of antioxidants including selenium and vitamins C and E.

Generally adding nuts and seeds to your diet will also up your omega-3 intake and feed your skin with goodies. For the most easily absorbed vegan source of EPA and DHA, consider taking a good quality marine algae supplement.

3) Omega-7 (palmitoleic acid)


Though it’s not classed as an ‘essential’ fatty acid, omega-7 is a monounsaturated fat that helps to make up the structure of your skin and mucous membranes.

There is growing research to suggest that it benefits skin health, and it may also protect against cardiovascular disease and insulin sensitivity. 

Avocados, macadamia nuts, anchovies, salmon and olive oil contain small amounts of omega-7, but one of the most abundant and concentrated sources is sea buckthorn berries. 

Studies so far have shown that omega-7 may improve skin hydration and elasticity and reduce wrinkles. It may also decrease skin and mucous membrane inflammation and relieve dry eye symptoms.

When applied topically, omega-7 can speed wound healing and soothe burns.

WHC O’Hisa (Omega Hair Immunity Skin Anti-ageing) is a specially formulated beauty complex. It contains concentrated organic sea buckthorn oil to calm and hydrate your skin, and protect it from free radical damage.

Zinc and B vitamins support the immune system, while Hyabest® 100% hyaluronic acid replenishes moisture and encourages a more youthful complexion.

4) Vitamin C

There are high concentrations of Vitamin C in the skin. It plays a pivotal role in collagen synthesis, a fibrous protein that gives structure and elasticity to your skin, preventing wrinkles (vitamin C also aids collagen production in your hair). Its potent antioxidant status prevents cell damage and oxidative stress, and it can improve and prevent UV photodamage. 

If you want to stock up on your vitamin C, consume plenty of broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, spinach and other leafy greens, Brussel’s sprouts, winter squash and sweet potatoes. Also eat fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and other berries, kiwis, guava, papaya, oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits, pineapple and mango.

5) Collagen


Collagen is a protein that is essential for building and maintaining healthy bones, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue. It holds our bodies together, providing a stable structure, promoting tissue elasticity and mobility.

As we age, our collagen levels decrease, and we start to see more wrinkles and looser, saggy skin

Some promising research suggests that collagen supplements can reduce the signs of ageing and aid wound healing. Supplements have the potential to increase skin elasticity, hydration, and dermal collagen density. 

In one small study, women between 35 and 55 years of age were randomised to take either 2.5g or 5g of collagen hydrolysate per day or a placebo. After just eight weeks, both groups taking the supplements showed significant improvements in skin elasticity versus the placebo group.

Four weeks after stopping the supplements, the older women still showed a statistically higher skin elasticity level.  

Another trial gave post-menopausal women a nutritional supplement consisting of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, and essential vitamins and minerals. The result was a marked improvement in wrinkle depth, skin elasticity and hydration.

If you would like to try a collagen supplement, ensure it comes from sustainable and clean sources, e.g. free-range or organic, grass-fed cows or sustainably sourced, non-toxic fish. Look for hydrolyzed collagen which is broken down into more easily absorbed particles. Bovine (collagen types 1 and 2) and fish collagen (type1) are the best forms to take for the skin.

6) Vegetables 


Research shows that healthy skin is associated with a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating a generous and diverse mixture every day will supply you with a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help fight free radical damage and prevent premature ageing.

If you’re worried you’re not getting enough, make it your mission to up your intake. You can also boost it with a food supplement like Green Vibrance Powder.

Aside from containing a preponderance of fruits and vegetables, it also includes a selection of organic grasses and algae which are highly nutritious with anti-ageing and skin rejuvenating properties. 

pHresh Greens is another alternative: a 100% organic, green raw food supplement that helps to neutralise acids in your blood and tissues, detoxify your body and energise your cells.

One teaspoon supplies you with the equivalent of 3-4 servings of raw vegetables. A natural source of antioxidants, B vitamins, carotenoids, phytonutrients, enzymes, dietary fibre and essential fatty acids, this is packed full of skin-feeding nutrients.

It contains grasses and algae including spirulina which calms inflammation, encourages a faster turnover of skin cells, and releases oxidative stress and toxins leading to a glowing complexion.

7) Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is relatively common, and many of us could do with regular supplementation unless we are getting ample sun exposure.

Research shows that Vitamin D may protect against some skin diseases and conditions. There also appears to be an association with low vitamin D status and psoriasis.

Due to its significant role in keratin production (a valuable protein that forms a protective layer over the skin), vitamin D is a promising treatment option for managing this condition. 

Vitamin D may also help to improve acne, although there is currently minimal research to support this. According to a small study involving 43 patients with newly diagnosed nodulocystic acne, there appears to be a connection with low vitamin D status, so supplementing may help in those who are deficient.

Another trial with 80 acne patients found that vitamin D deficiency is more frequent in those with acne. Patients who took an oral supplement showed a significant improvement in their symptoms

If you are concerned that your levels are low, get tested by your GP. Otherwise, Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take over 10mcg of vitamin D daily during the winter months while the Vitamin D Council recommends a supplement of 5,000 i.u. daily.

Conclusion

When it comes to having glowing and healthy skin, feeding your body right is the way forward. 

If you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced, whole, real food diet packed full of brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, you should get all the nutrients you need to nurture your skin from the inside out.

Regularly including pre and probiotic-rich foods alongside a nourishing diet will help to keep your gut healthy, protecting you from inflammatory skin conditions.

Exercise, good sleep, effective stress management, love and laughter all contribute to good health and great skin too.

Taking some strategically well-chosen supplements alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle may also help to improve inflammatory skin conditions and hydration and promote plumper, more toned skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles. 

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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young woman's face, clear complexion

Dehydrated Skin? Read Our Guide to Getting a Healthy Glow

Dehydrated Skin? Read Our Guide to Getting a Healthy Glow

Skin is made up of several layers – three, to be exact. The outer layer (the epidermis) is our protective, waterproof barrier. The dermis is just underneath the outer layer and contains connective tissue.

The third deeper, fatty layer is called the hypodermis. Babies and children have a lot of circulation in the outermost areas of the skin due, in part, to the water content of their bodies. We are born with a bodily water content of around 75%, which drops to 55-60% as adults.

There are many reasons that the water content of our bodies diminishes with age, resulting in less plump skin. Babies have rosy cheeks because their skin has plenty of blood circulating to the epidermis. Ensuring proper circulation with water and other activities is critical for healthy glowing skin.

In this article, we’ll discuss why our skin requires A LOT of water, especially through drinking. We'll also look at the five symptoms of dehydration, as well as seven lifestyle changes we can take to encourage circulation to get glowing skin.

What are the Main Symptoms of Dehydrated Skin?


Dehydration can be extremely serious and even fatal if left unchecked, especially in the elderly.

Knowing the early signs will allow you to begin to reverse the symptoms.

  • Dark circles under your eyes
  • Dull complexion
  • Deeper surface wrinkles
  • Itching
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry skin

Related: 5 Problems Caused by Not Drinking Enough Water

How to Keep Skin Glowing Longer


The surface layer of the skin gets thinner with age. However, if we properly hydrate the skin then we’ll be able to keep healthy skin for longer.

The elderly have the least amount of water in their bodies, and as such their skin often appears grey and dull.

Additionally, the elderly are more prone to dehydration.

Interestingly, as we age our skin becomes duller and correspondingly so does our perception of thirst.

Getting water to the outer layer of the skin becomes increasingly difficult when there is not enough water in the body.

When we’re dehydrated, our skin lacks water – resulting in dry, dull or itchy skin. When the skin is dehydrated, overall complexion will be patchy and fine lines may appear deeper.

So, how can you tell for sure whether your skin is dehydrated?

Other than checking if you have any of the symptoms above, you can test whether your skin is dehydrated with a simple pinch test.

To test whether your skin is dehydrated, simply pinch it to see if it wrinkles or sticks in position.

Diet & Lifestyle Factors That Contribute to Dehydrated Skin


There are several diet and lifestyle factors that can contribute to dehydrated skin. If you feel that your skin is dehydrated, then it could be because of the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of water
  • Lack of sleep
  • Eating a standard western/ American diet (SAD)
  • Illness

Related: These 3 Natural Supplements Could Improve Your Sleep

7 Lifestyle Factors That Encourage Glowing Skin

Below is a list of 7 things you can do to rehydrate your skin and encourage a healthy glow.

1.   Use Salt and Minerals to Open Up Subskin Layer

It’s critical to consume enough (of the right kind) of salt to ensure healthy circulation. Salt helps make the inside of your cells alkaline and to keep water in the blood.

Go for either sea salt or pink Himalayan salt as they are filled with trace elements which are essential for healthy skin such as calcium, potassium, selenium and zinc, alongside 80 other trace minerals.

2.   Soak in Epsom Salts/Sea Salts

Soaking in sea salts or Epsom salts has been shown to slow skin aging and calm the nervous system. There’s also calcium in the sea salts that increases circulation.

Potassium helps to balance skin moisture. Just under your skin, there are lymphatic vessels that carry waste out of your body, plus the sodium in salt helps move your lymphatic system.

3.   Sit in a Steam Room

Going to a steam room helps to open up your pores and increases the circulation of blood in the outer layers of your skin. This is great for detoxifying – ridding the body of dead cells and cellular waste.

The heat will stimulate your nerve endings, opening up the capillaries and supplying blood, water and nutrients to that area.

The body uses rationing programs if you don’t have enough water in your system. This includes keeping the water for essential internal organs and keeping it away from the outer layer of your skin.

Baths, steam rooms, steaming your face and hot towels can trick the body to change its rationing process because it senses that there’s enough water to go round.

4.   Drink Alkaline Water

Drinking alkaline water will help to make the insides of your cells alkaline, which is essential for healthy cells. Alkaline water can be consumed internally or topically. Alkaline water typically has a pH of 8 or 9.

Acidic cells breed disease, so reducing the consumption of acid-forming foods and drinks, then replacing them for alkaline foods and alkaline water, is a good way to alkalise your body.

Related: What’s the Healthiest Water You Can Drink?

5.   Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple cider vinegar is antibacterial and as such can be consumed both internally and externally to improve the quality of your skin.

ACV is ideal for the removal of spots and blemishes, it clears the skin of daily cellular waste and external build-up which will help your skin cells breathe and be more healthy overall.

6.   Eat Green Vegetables & Fruit

Consuming a diet that is heavy in plant-based nutrition will give your cells the nutrients they need to thrive and glow. If you don’t like all that chewing, you can juice your veggies or make a fruit smoothie.

The chlorophyll in green plants contains magnesium which will encourage your skin to relax and increase blood flow.

Chlorophyll will also bring more oxygen into your system, which allows your cells to breathe.

7.   Cardiovascular Exercise

Exercise is one of the only things that will pump blood into every corner of your body (including the skin). This helps your body hydrate and oxygenate, which in turn gives your skin a radiant glow.

Movement is one of the only things that moves your lymphatic system (the sewage system of the body). Therefore to eliminate waste and hydrate your whole body, drink lots of water and exercise!

The Bottom Line

Although dehydrated skin can be irritating, there are many lifestyle changes that you can make to enhance the quality of your skin. Ensuring that you stay active and properly hydrated with quality water will go a long way to improving the quality of your skin.

Consuming high-quality salt, meanwhile, will allow water to be absorbed properly by your body, while eating a diet rich in plant-based nutrition will give your body the nourishment it needs to provide nutrients to your skin.

Following these lifestyle tips will undoubtedly go a long way towards ensuring you maintain a healthy glow.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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shower stalls

Dry, Itchy Skin and Scalp? Your Shower May Be Making It Worse

Dry, Itchy Skin and Scalp? Your Shower may be making it Worse

Yes, it's true. There may be several reasons for this, and if you already suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, you will be far more sensitive to these.

Contributing factors include taking showers (or baths) that are too hot, causing the destruction of your natural skin oils. It could also be down to your shower water being either too acidic or too alkaline, so detergents and soaps don't dissolve and wash off properly.

If your water is hard, due to high levels of calcium and magnesium ions, it makes it too alkaline. Consequently, it can increase your skin alkalinity, causing damage to your skin barrier. In its weakened state, it becomes more sensitive to inflammation and irritation, and also more prone to infection.

A 2017 study found that the combination of a genetic predisposition and exposure to hard water may contribute to the development of eczema. Along with toxins in our water from medication, chemicals and heavy metals, another major skin irritant is chlorine.

What is chlorine?


Chlorine is a naturally occurring chemical element derived from salt. It is atomic number 17 on the periodic table and is a toxic yellow/green coloured gas. 

It is a disinfectant that kills bacteria and is consequently used to sterilise our drinking water and swimming pools. It is also used in the manufacturing of a multitude of agriculture and consumer products, including paper, paints, textiles, water pipes, PVC, and insecticides.

The food industry also uses chlorine as an antibacterial; for example, it is used to clean fruits and vegetables and disinfect food contact surfaces. 

It prevents the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. According to the DWI, the World Health Organisation set a maximum value of 5mg/l for chlorine, as a residual disinfectant in our drinking water. 

DWI state that tao water in England and Wales is well below this guideline, with most water companies aiming to keep it under 1mg/l. You can look up minimum and maximum levels of residual chlorine in your drinking water here.

While it is at ‘safe’ levels in our water, in its raw gas form, chlorine is a harmful substance. Though you are hopefully never subjected to it in this form, most harmful chlorine exposure occurs by inhalation.

At low levels of exposure, it can cause eye and skin irritation, sore throat and a cough. At higher levels, it can lead to tightness of the chest, wheezing, narrowing of the airways, shortness of breath, and pulmonary oedema (fluid collection in the lungs).

How chlorine contributes to dry skin, scalp & eczema


Researchers have linked exposure to residual chlorine in our tap water with the development or worsening of eczema. 

When chlorine is added to our water, it goes through a series of processes as it reacts with nitrogen, organic material, metals, and other compounds. What’s left is free residual chlorine, which is available to disinfect the water. 

In one study, researchers noted an increased sensitivity to residual chlorine in eczema patients. They also noticed that it reduced the water-holding capacity of the outermost layer of their skin, making it drier. 

More studies are needed, but researchers have noted a correlation between higher water chlorine areas and eczema in children.

It’s also a well-known fact that chlorine dries out the skin, enough to make it sensitive. For some of us, even mild daily exposure from our bathing water can be enough to cause inflammation and irritation.

The link between chlorinated water, impaired gut health & skin conditions

Some recent studies have linked chlorine and other chemicals in our drinking water to the development of colorectal cancer. And while we are unsure of how chlorine may disrupt healthy gut bacteria, a 1987 animal study linked the consumption of monochloramine in drinking water to the downregulation of the immune system. 

Chloroform is potentially carcinogenic and can form when showering in warm chlorinated water. Studies show that showering for just 10-minutes (with the opening of the pores, skin absorption and inhalation), can result in a higher chloroform intake than if you drank eight glasses of chlorinated water

In-depth research is needed, but many believe that consistently drinking chlorinated water and inhaling chloroform while showering can destroy our intestinal flora. We know that at least 70% of our immune system stems from our gut microbiota. So one could suggest that in the animal study mentioned above, the monochloramine damaged the rats’ microbiota, leading to a weakened immune system. 

Researchers have linked chlorinated tap water to increased food allergies. This again alludes to a potential link between chlorine in our household water and impaired gut microbiota. 

We additionally know that there is a distinct link between impaired gut health and skin conditions such as eczema. So could chlorinated tap water also cause skin issues via the gut?

What's the solution?

 

Chlorine does prevent our exposure to harmful, life-threatening diseases, but there are concerns over potential health risks from ingesting or absorbing it, including skin problems.

However, if you effectively filter your water, you don’t have to subject yourself to it to such an extent.

If you are suffering from, and irritated by, any form of dry, itchy, skin or scalp, you could find that switching to a dechlorinating shower head revolutionises your life.

By removing chlorine from your shower water while also energising it, the Biocera Dechlorinating Shower Head could significantly improve your skin woes. It’s highly recommended if you suffer from conditions that can become aggravated when showering, such as rashes, sore eyes, dry, flaky skin, brittle hair, allergies or lung problems.

The stylish showerhead has a double-plated surface with gold and chrome, which prevents bacterial growth, and it even helps you save around 25% of water. It’s NSF certified and easy to fit onto any handheld shower. 

 

When it comes to drinking water, we have a couple of options. The Energy Plus Water Filter is installed under your sink and provides high levels of water purification including the removal of chlorine and fluoride. This high-level contaminant removal combined with the benefits of natural bioceramic minerals gives you water that is filtered, alkaline, hydrogen-rich – and ALIVE. 

The Biocera filter jug is cost-effective and easy to use. It removes chlorine and bacteria, and reduces heavy metals and dissolved organic residues such as benzene and pesticides.

The bioceramic minerals in the filter emit low levels of natural energy, improving water structure to provide great tasting, hydrogen-rich, life-giving water.

Conclusion

Chlorine can dry out your skin, and it’s not uncommon for people to feel itchy and inflamed after showering. It can be especially dehydrating if you have eczema, and some researchers have noticed an increase in atopic dermatitis of schoolchildren in areas with higher water chlorination. 

There is also a potential link between chlorinated water and impaired gut health, and skin problems can often stem from, or be associated with compromised gut function.

By installing an efficient showerhead filter, you could eliminate a high percentage of your exposure to chlorine while showering, and may find that your skin symptoms improve.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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sliced strawberries arrayed on a blue plate

12 Foods That Help Prevent Sunburn & Relieve Sun Damage

12 Foods That Help Prevent Sunburn & Relieve Sun Damage

During the hot summer days, staying hydrated with good-quality water is a top priority. Additionally, taking measures to ensure that we don’t get burnt in the first place is a must.

The skin is the largest organ in the body, so it makes sense that our diet can influence how the skin responds to sun exposure.

The skin is a barrier that protects us from the external environment, including providing protection from UV radiation and air pollution. While food can protect us from the inside-out, we still need to care of our skin on the outside during prolonged sun exposure.

To benefit from their bioactive nutrients, skin-healthy foods should be enjoyed raw. Eating these twelve foods will not only protect the skin from sun damage, they can also help to heal skin that has already been burnt.

Eating these foods will help naturally mitigate UV damage to the skin, but be aware, they are not a substitute for sun screen.

In this article we’ll discuss the top 12 foods that you can eat to boost skin health and even apply externally to soothe burnt skin.

1) Strawberries


The Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry published a paper on the photoprotective properties of strawberries.

Researchers stated that flavonoids known as anthocyanins that give fruits their red colour may be the compound responsible for the fruit’s photoprotective properties.

Strawberries contain 108% of the recommended DV of vitamin C, as well as ellagic acid which both removes free radicals and protects the skin from sun damage.

The optimum intake of vitamin C in humans is widely debated – some researchers state that 200 mg per day will optimise the health benefits of vitamin C, whereas the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) suggests 90mg for adult males and 75mg for females.

2) Pomegranates


Like strawberries, pomegranates contain ellagic acid which reduces pigmentation caused by solar rays and also mops up free radicals.

What’s more, if you combine pomegranate extract with sunscreen, it has been proven to increase the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) by 20%.

Like many of the foods on this list, pomegranates can be both eaten and used topically to soothe sun-damaged skin.

3) Carrots


When I think of carotene, carrots come top of the list as they are filled with beta-carotene. Carotenoids affect gene expression at a cellular level and provide photoprotective qualities that can mitigate sun damage.

Beta-carotene also helps reduce inflammation caused by sunburn. The vitamin C from carrots is also great to protect the skin from photoaging.

4) Guava


Guava is a tropical fruit that contains five times as much vitamin C as oranges.

Guava is literally jam-packed with vitamin C, providing a whopping 419% of the recommended daily value (DV).

The antioxidants in vitamin C-rich foods protect the skin from sun damage; Vitamin C also helps to produce collagen, which is essential for healthy skin.

5) Red peppers


Both red pepper and red chilli peppers contain lycopene, a carotenoid that can protect the skin from sun damage.

Interestingly, the red or orange colour in tomatoes, red peppers, watermelon, strawberries, sweet potatoes and carrots hold a lot of the magic. Green bell or green chilli peppers are not a good swap, as they don’t contain lycopene.

The take-home? Look out for red fruits and veggies for the phytoprotective qualities.

6) Sweet potatoes


Carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene in sweet potatoes provide the skin with antioxidants that can act as a protective shield against solar rays.

The body converts the phytonutrient beta-carotene to vitamin A, which has been shown to reduce sunburn. Beta-carotene also causes the body to produce melanin, which helps protect skin from sun exposure.

Believe it or not, the starch content of both white and sweet potatoes is also great for soothing sunburn when applied topically.

7) Green tea

Green tea can reduce blood pressure, detoxify the body and enhance relaxation. Green tea also promotes DNA repair in cells that are sun-damaged because of the polyphenol Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG).

Green tea contains other polyphenols called catechins that have antibacterial qualities and help to reduce inflammation. Green tea also contains B2 and vitamin E that hydrate and protect the skin.

Needless to say, green tea can be consumed as a drink; it can also be used topically to soothe the skin, making it one of the healthiest teas in existence.

8) Citrus peel and black tea


OK, this one may seem a little bit odd at first – but hear me out.

A research study out of the University of Arizona found that the d-limonene found in high concentrations in citrus peel had anticancer properties.

In fact, an odd mixture of citrus peel and black tea is reportedly very good for protecting your skin.

Black tea has a lot of similar properties to green tea, so consuming both black tea and citrus peel may be odd, but it makes sense.

9) Oatmeal


Oatmeal soothes sunburn due to its antioxidant, antifungal and moisturising properties. Oatmeal contains antioxidants called saponins that help remove free radicals that can accumulate from sun damage.

Oatmeal also stimulates T-cell production, which helps the skin regenerate and boost immunity.

T-cells are white blood cells that help the body fight against invaders like bacteria and parasites. Oatmeal can be mixed with water and used topically on sunburn or as an exfoliator prior to sun exposure.

10) Cucumber


Cucumber is amazing for the skin as it helps the body produce collagen – the primary structural protein in skin.

Cucumber is extremely hydrating: a massive 96% of a cucumber is made up of water. To benefit from cucumbers skin-healthy properties, make sure to eat the peel, as this contains silica that tones and firms up the skin.

Cucumber is also nutrient-rich, and contains vitamin C, caffeic acid, potassium and vitamin K. Vitamin  K is essential for healing and regenerating healthy skin.

The caffeic acid in cucumber has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities that help protect the skin from DNA damage and oxidative stress.

11) Tomatoes


Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, the aforementioned carotenoid that gives the tomato its red colour. Lycopene protects the skin from cellular damage, so is great to mitigate the effects of sun exposure.

Tomatoes are also naturally high in vitamin C – one cup of tomato juice provides 188.9% of the recommended DV of vitamin C.

Tomatoes are anti-inflammatory and help balance the body’s pH balance. One study showed that “Prolonged tomato consumption can mitigate ultraviolet (UV)”.

12) Watermelon

As the name suggests, watermelon is made up mainly of water, making them great for keeping you and your skin hydrated in the sun. A whopping 92% of a watermelon is water!

Watermelon contains the antioxidant lycopene and the amino acid arginine which helps to protect the skin from sun damage while aiding blood flow and protein formation.

Lastly, watermelon is filled with nutrients that help build healthy skin like vitamin A, B6 and vitamin C.

Conclusion

There you have it: a dozen nutritious foods to protect against the ageing effects of the sun.

Remember, eating a diet rich in particularly red fruits and vegetables is great for the skin due to a variety of factors, not least the appreciable lycopene content that mitigates sun damage.

Vitamin C is also vital for healthy skin, but the polyphenols and other phytonutrients found in nutrient-rich natural foods deserve a mention too. Ultimately, it is about eating a balanced range of wholesome foods to provide the skin with the protection it needs.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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An image of collagen powder in a bowl alongside three laden wooden spoons

Chicken Collagen for Arthritis, Joints, Skin, Hair & More

Chicken Collagen for Arthritis, Joints, Skin, Hair & More

Weird and wonderful ingredients have a habit of popping up in the supplement industry, and chicken collagen is one of the more recent success stories. Given the protein is found in cartilage, bone and other tissues, it’s perhaps no surprise that collagen supplements (including collagen protein and bone broth) are almost always formulated to improve joint and bone health. But there are other uses.

In this article, we intend to summarise some of the more popular uses of collagen. Although most of our focus will be on chicken collagen, since that appears to be the most popular ingredient employed for these purposes, we will also take a look at marine collagen and explore the similarities and differences between the two.

Let's get to it.

What is Collagen?


Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, located in muscles, bone, tendons, the skin and internal organs.

In essence, this fibrous, building-block protein helps to hold the body together. Amazingly, some forms of collagen are stronger, on a gram-per-gram basis, than steel.

The vast majority of collagen in the body belongs to types 1, 2 and 3, each with its own unique structure and function. While types 1 and 3 are typically associated with bones, skin, hair and nails, type 2 collagen services joints and cartilage. Indeed, type 2 makes up around 60% of protein in cartilage and as much as 90% of collagen in articular cartilage.

Collagen degrades over time, as a natural part of ageing. However, other factors deplete collagen in the body. These include tobacco, alcohol, poor nutrition (especially vitamin C deficiency and a surplus of pro-inflammatory foods), excess sun exposure and lack of sleep.

If your lifestyle habits are on the unhealthy side, your collagen production is almost certainly suffering. The consequence can be wrinkled or sagging skin, as well as arthritis-like symptoms such as joint pain.

Since no supplier is yet harvesting this valuable protein from healthy humans, chicken collagen is the solution most often recommended. Generally extracted from chicken cartilage, chicken collagen is a rich source of amino acids glycine, proline and hydroxyproline and could well provide relief for a variety of conditions.

Of course, chicken collagen is not the only form on the market: cow collagen, pig collagen and marine collagen are all commercially available. As ever, quality is key: so pay close attention to the method of processing. Not all collagen proteins are the same.

Chicken Collagen for Arthritis: What Does the Research Say?


A number of studies highlight the efficacy of chicken collagen in decreasing joint pain and stiffness from arthritis.

In one which looked specifically at knee osteoarthritis, intake of native type 2 collagen (from chicken sternum cartilage) resulted in fewer swollen joints, joint tenderness and better walk time when compared with a placebo. What’s more, there were no side effects.

Meanwhile, in a 2017 review paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, collagen was listed as one of 7 supplements to have “demonstrated large and clinically important effects for pain reduction at short term” for osteoarthritis.

The other supplements were passion fruit peel extract, Curcuma longa extract, Boswellia serrata extract, curcumin, pycnogenol and L-carnitine.

It’s not just osteoarthritis either. A 2009 double-blind trial involving over 500 subjects with rheumatoid arthritis established that collagen supplements improved pain markers, morning stiffness, tender joint count and swollen joint count.

While it’s not possible to say that everyone with arthritis will experience relief by taking supplemental collagen – there are far too many factors involved to suggest a panacea – we can say that collagen represents a novel option. Incidentally, you might like to read our article Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain, which summarises some of the best options.

Cosmetic Uses of Chicken Collagen


Collagen has been suggested as a means of nourishing skin. This is because naturally, collagen helps skin cells renew and repair.

In fact, your skin is composed of 75% collagen. As such, smooth, soft skin is typically a result of healthy collagen production.

Indeed, research suggests that the primary difference between radiant and sagging skin is the density of the collagen matrix.

Collagen supplementation was put under the microscope in a 2014 study, which sought to establish whether it could enhance the skin of women aged 35-55. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial confirmed a significant improvement in skin elasticity after just 4 weeks.

Skin moisture and skin evaporation also benefitted, although such improvements were ‘less statistically significant’.

A separate study, meanwhile, showed improvements in wrinkles, roughness, moisture and elasticity after eight weeks of collagen supplementation.

According to skin specialist Paul Banwell, “Collagen drinks increase collagen in the bloodstream which in turn trigger the body’s own collagen production by firing up the fibroblasts, our own collagen factories.”

One thing worth noting: the process of collagen formation is heavily dependent on vitamin C. If you want to maximise your skincare routine, therefore, make sure you’re getting enough dietary vitamin C. (Arginine and zinc also impact collagen synthesis.)

As far as cosmetic benefits are concerned, collagen may also help to strengthen nails and restore lustre to hair. More studies are needed, however.

Chicken Collagen vs Marine Collagen

While chicken collagen is largely composed of type 2, the ideal form for building cartilage due to its provision of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate, marine-derived collagen mostly supplies type 1.

Distinct from its counterpart, marine collagen also contains a high concentration of the amino acid hydroxyproline, which is highly effective at creating collagen in the body.

Type 1 is considered to be the best option for cosmetic purposes and marine collagen in particular is credited for its easy absorption.

Of course, you should bear in mind that collagen consumption is about  rebuilding all of your collagen, not just Type 1, 2 or 3. Healthy collagen production across the board should be the ultimate goal. A variety of collagen sources can help in this regard.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to strengthen connective tissues, maintain strong bones or ensure smooth, supple skin, chicken collagen is a great choice of supplement. The thing is, many products on the market come laden with added sugars and artificial sweeteners, not to mention additional chemical additives.

Hydrolyzed collagen, in case you’re wondering, refers to collagen produced from a process of triturating bone and cartilage into tiny components known as gelatin: a process which makes the protein much easier on the stomach, all the better for the body to digest and use.

Oh, and if supplementation isn’t on your agenda, do everything in your power to preserve your own collagen production: that means no smoking, adequate hydration, sensible nutrition and a good level of fitness. Oh, and the occasional facial massage can work wonders.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Black cumin oil with seeds on wooden background

How to Use Black Seed Oil for Acne, Hair Loss, Herpes & More

How to Use Black Seed OIl for Acne, Hair Loss, Herpes & More

For many, black seed oil remains an untapped natural resource, a highly pure, antioxidant-rich remedy. For others, it is an integral part of both their wellness plan and their culture.

Yes, black seed oil (or black cumin seed oil) has been traditionally and extensively used for generations, particularly throughout Asia – no surprise given Nigella sativa, the flowering plant which provides the oil, is indigenous to South Asia.

Employed both topically (rubbed onto the skin) and internally for thousands of years, and recommended for a myriad of ailments, black seed oil was said to have been described by the Prophet Muhammad as “a cure for every disease except death.”

In this blog post, we investigate the various uses of black seed oil: for acne, hair loss and herpes, as the title suggests, but also for cholesterol; blood sugar reduction; hepatitis C; rheumatoid arthritis; weight loss; even cancer.

Sceptical? That's quite all right: there are many different perspectives and a mountain of scientific evidence to review. Read on to learn more about the therapeutic benefits of black seed oil.

What is Black Seed Oil?


Black cumin, black seed, black caraway, kalonji – they all refer to the tiny seedlings of the aforementioned Nigella sativa. Considered an important remedy in folk medicine throughout Middle Eastern, Asian and even European culture, the seeds have also been used in cooking, sprinkled atop curries and flatbread to add flavour.

A rich source of vitamins, minerals, essential oils, alkaloids and unsaturated fatty acids, the latter of which constitutes approximately 30% of the seeds, the product of Nigella sativa is highly nutritious.

Indeed, the high amounts of copper, zinc and linoleic acid are just the tip of the iceberg: because black seed is a generous source of thymoquinone (TQ), a powerful antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-epileptic and anti-inflammatory compound.

It is thymoquinone which is most often cited as being the primary pharmacological agent within black seed.

Black Seed Oil for Skin Complaints and Acne


Many cosmeceutical applications have been suggested for black seed oil, particularly due to its essential oil content. After all, black seed contains more than just thymoquinone; it’s also a source of thymohydroquinone, dithymoquinone, thymol, nigellicine, nigellimine, nigellicine, carvacrol, nigellidine and alpha-hederin.

Used for centuries to treat dermatological disorders, acne vulgaris, burns and other types of skin irritation, pigmentation and inflammation, black seed oil’s usefulness in this regard is probably due to its anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.

With regards to acne specifically, 20% black seed oil extract when employed in a lotion formula was shown to demonstrate better efficacy than benzoyl peroxide lotion 5%, a typical treatment for acne and pimples.

In another clinical study from 2010, black seed oil lotion 10% ‘significantly reduced mean lesion count of papules and pustules’ after two months of administration. In the test group, the response to treatment was described as good in 58% of subjects (versus 8% in control group) and moderate in 35% (vs 34%).

If using black seed oil topically, take care to keep out of the eyes, nostrils and other sensitive parts of the body.

Black Seed Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis


According to the results of a 2016 study, black seed oil may prove useful as part of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

The trial looked at 43 females with mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis, and divided them into two groups, with one taking black seed oil capsules daily and the other consuming a placebo. The study lasted one month.

In the end, the black seed oil treatment group experienced a notable reduction in arthritis symptoms, as determined by the DAS-28 rating scale; they also enjoyed reduced blood levels of inflammatory markers and the number of swollen joints was similarly decreased.

Although unlikely to be used as a single therapy, black seed oil might be employed in conjunction with a number of other treatments for rheumatoid arthritis such as magnesium oil and turmeric.

Related: Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain: Herbs, Supplements & More

Black Seed Oil for Cholesterol


N. sativa powder has been evaluated for its effect on plasma lipid profiles in humans. In a 2009 study, the results of which were later published in the World Applied Sciences Journalintake of the powder among hypercholesterolemia patients for a period of two months was shown to reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides ‘to a highly significant extent’. The patients took 1g before breakfast every day for eight weeks.

In a separate study, black seed oil was shown to lower cholesterol in adults with levels above 200 mg/dl: total cholesterol fell by an average of 4.78%, LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol plummeted by 7.6% and overall triglycerides dropped by 16.65%. The dose was double that of the first trial, 2g daily.

Black Seed Oil and Hair Loss

Just as it has been said to soften skin, black cumin oil is apparently great for hydrating hair follicles, moisturising, strengthening and promoting hair growth.

It may even help to combat greying hair, specifically by halting the depletion of pigment cells in follicles.

Several cosmetic products with excellent reviews on Amazon count black cumin oil as one of their key ingredients. Black Seed Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, manufactured by Vatika Naturals, is just one of them.

According to one verified customer review, “I was losing hair like crazy and I didn’t know what else to try. This little black container proved to be a miracle. I don’t know how others react to it, but in my case it helped tremendously with my hair loss, it makes it shinier and much more manageable. Sometimes I don’t even use shampoo or conditioner, just wet my hair, put this on as per the instructions and rinse it.”

Improved shine, texture and volume? It sounds too good to be true. But black seed oil’s anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties suggest it could do more than that, helping to combat oiliness, dandruff and scalp irritation.

To trial black seed oil for hair loss, try massaging it onto your scalp, working it from the roots to the tips, then leaving for 30-60 minutes before washing off with regular, environmentally-friendly shampoo.

It can also be used in conjunction with olive oil and coconut oil: just add 1 tbsp of either to 1 tbsp of black seed oil.

Treating Herpes with Black Seed Oil


According to a 2016 Saudi Arabian study, cumin seed methanolic extract at 4 ?g/ml provided “61% inhibition of plaque of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and 49% inhibition of plaque of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2).

It should be noted that cumin seed (cuminum cyminum) differs slightly from black cumin seed, although they share the distinction of being widely used in the traditional and Ayurvedic system of medicine. Instead of thymoquinone, the main constituent of cumin seed is cuminaldehyde.

Black seed oil, for its part, may help those with herpes by supporting the immune system. However, there is no evidence to suggest that it will get rid of the virus.

Black Seed Oil for Hepatitis C


A study conducted in 2013, which sought to investigate the effect of N. sativa on patients with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), yielded impressive results.

The subjects were given 450mg of black seed oil, in the form of capsules, every day for 12 weeks, after which a reduction in overall viral count was noted. Antioxidant activity also increased, highlighting a reduction in the hemolysis of red blood cells and platelet.

Can Black Seed Oil Help Cancer Sufferers?


There is some evidence to suggest a therapeutic benefit from black seed, and in particular from its main constituent thymoquinone, for sufferers of cancer.

In a 2014 review paper published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the potential of black seed oil for the prevention of cancer ‘through the activation or inactivation of molecular cell signalling pathways’ was explored.

The authors went on to note TQ’s ‘critical role in controlling cancer via the activation of tumor suppressor gene, phase II gene/enzymes, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs)’ and cited a 2011 study which ‘proved that TQ showed anticancer effects and regulated apoptosis in doxorubicin-resistant human breast cancer cells (MCF-7/DOX cells).’

As for specific cancers with which black seed is associated, the investigators noted that thymoquinone ‘shows therapeutic roles in diseases control including cancers such as pancreatic, osteosarcoma, bladder, breast, colon, skin and lung and other diseases.’

Of course, much more investigation is needed: an insufficient number of clinical trials have been performed on cancer patients, though an experimental study of an animal model indicated that black seed use in disease management came with ‘no toxic effect.’

Black Seed Oil & Blood Sugar Reduction


Black seed oil has been shown to be beneficial for diabetic symptoms including high blood sugar and insulin resistance. A 2011 review paper summarises the reasons for this: ‘[N. sativa] reduces appetite, glucose absorption in intestine, hepatic gluconeogenesis, blood glucose level, cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight and simulates glucose induced secretion of insulin from beta-cells in pancreas.’

Furthermore, the anti-diabetic activity of black seed oil was confirmed by a study on 60 patients with insulin resistance, wherein consuming 5ml daily resulted in improved fasting blood glucose levels. It should be noted, however, that the oil was combined with glucose and lipid-lowering medication.

Related: 7 Tips for Naturally Controlling Your Blood Sugar Levels

Black Seed Oil for Weight Loss


While the evidence for weight loss is still limited, that’s not to say it mightn’t be useful. There are a few modest-sized studies which found better weight loss results when black seed oil was used, and these involved both men and women. One study also showed that black seed oil suppressed appetite.

The bottom line is that more studies are needed; and as we all know, weight loss is best achieved through a protocol of regular exercise, sensible dieting and calorie control. There is no magic pill.

By no means does this article cover all the benefits, or potential benefits, of black seed oil. Studies – some on rats, others on humans – have shown the potential of N. sativa to improve liver and kidney function, improve sperm count, enhance memory, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, relieve indigestion, reduce breast pain, combat anxiety and improve gut motility.

One thing’s for sure, with so many trials having been conducted on black seed oil, and such a long history of use in traditional cultures, many people have experienced the benefit of this miracle compound.

Black seed oil can be taken right off the spoon, incorporated in a salad dressing or dip, added to a smoothie or utilised on the skin. It can also be used a soothing head or chest rub.

Want to read more about black seed oil? The GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard is a great resource. Just type black seed oil into the search bar and scroll through the studies.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant compound that we can get from meat and plant foods like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, beetroots, yams and potatoes, tomatoes and rice bran.

We also make it in our mitochondria which are housed within all the cells of our body. (Without our mitochondria, we couldn’t produce energy.) ALA plays a vital role in this, helping to convert glucose into essential fuel for our bodies.

Although we produce alpha lipoic acid ourselves, it’s not generated in large amounts. Boosting our levels through diet is highly beneficial, but some people also like to supplement to ensure they are getting adequate amounts.

One of ALA’s exceptional qualities is that unlike other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, it is both water and fat soluble. This makes it more versatile and able to function in all the cells and tissues of our bodies.

Aside from its epic antioxidant capabilities, alpha lipoic acid is championed for its impressive anti-inflammatory powers. It is now becoming more widely accepted that most, if not all, illness and disease stem from chronic inflammation.

It's no surprise, therefore, that ALA is touted for its anti-ageing benefits as well as its role in the treatment or prevention of diseases and conditions including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and neurological and cognitive decline.

What Does ALA Do?


While acute inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to harmful stimuli, prolonged inflammation can lead to various health problems.

Known as the ‘universal antioxidant’, one of ALA’s most significant benefits is its ability to reduce and even reverse the toxic oxidative damage that can destroy our cells, leading to chronic illness, premature ageing and decline.

The fact that it is both fat and water soluble also means that it can reach into every tissue and cell in our bodies.

Often considered superior to other antioxidants, ALA can increase the expression of antioxidant enzymes. It also regenerates other powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, COQ10 and glutathione, increasing their disease-fighting, immune-boosting and energy producing capabilities. 

If that wasn’t enough, alpha lipoic acid has anti-inflammatory prowess outside of its antioxidant activity and can boost the antioxidant defence system via Nrf-2-mediated antioxidant gene expression, to reduce free radical damage when the body is under stress.

According to Dr Mercola, alpha lipoic acid is one of the best free radical scavengers and also the only one known to access the brain with ease.

ALA even acts as a metal chelator. In small studies, it has shown the potential to bind to iron and copper, preventing oxidative damage and the associated risk of neurodegenerative and other diseases.

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help You?


ALA can increase energy production, decrease oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and boost other natural antioxidant defences.

It affects inflammation, energy production, metabolism, immunity, nerves, blood vessels, all muscles, cells and tissues, and the brain and other organs, protecting you from chronic illness and disease. 

Alpha lipoic acid can be beneficial for managing diabetes symptoms, improving insulin sensitivity, balancing blood sugar and reducing cholesterol.

It may help to prevent cognitive decline, protect vision, aid weight loss, improve skin ageing and lower blood pressure.

May Protect the Skin from Ageing


Antioxidants can help to neutralise free radical damage in the body. Skin damage caused by smoking and sun exposure, plus having an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, can increase oxidative stress and accelerate skin ageing.

Some research has been conducted using skin creams that contain ALA, and positive results were achieved for those with photoaged (sun damaged) skin.

In one small study on 20 women with ageing skin, after three and six months of applying cream to the face with 5% ALA, the skin had increased thickness and improved texture.

As mentioned, ALA also boosts vitamin C and glutathione – both of which reduce skin inflammation and encourage a youthful appearance. As such, supplementing with alpha lipoic acid could potentiate the effects of other nutrients in the form of food or supplements.

May Protect Vision As You Age


Due to its antioxidant status and ability to reduce free radical damage in the eyes, alpha lipoic acid may help to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.

Some research shows ALA can improve glaucoma in the elderly due to its direct antioxidant influence on eye tissue. It may also benefit eye health via the ability to boost glutathione which can also protect against glaucoma and cataracts.

What’s more, ALA shows promise in improving the vision-related quality of life for those suffering from Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes & Associated Complications

Metabolic syndrome is a term used for a cluster of conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Increased inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with metabolic syndrome are linked to a higher risk of contracting additional disorders. Supplementing with ALA has been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory markers in those with metabolic syndrome.

Alpha lipoic acid can also play a role in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

In various studies, it has demonstrated an ability to prevent the increased oxidative stress that can lead to further complications in diabetic patients. And in the pooling and reviewing of data from several trials involving those suffering from metabolic diseases, ALA supplementation consistently lead to improvements in blood glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance. It can also lower triglyceride levels, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Those with diabetes have an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, which develops when the nerves in extremities like hands and feet become damaged. Symptoms in the affected areas can include tingling, numbness, stinging, burning and shooting pains, loss of balance and coordination, and muscle weakness.

Although studies have used alpha lipoic acid intravenously, and more research is definitely needed, it has proved successful in treating this condition, helping to relieve painful symptoms and improving nerve function.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure how ALA improves these symptoms, but it may in part be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, as oxidative stress is partly responsible for the diabetic neuropathy disease process.

Another way that alpha lipoic acid might improve peripheral neuropathy is because it can increase microcirculation (the circulation of blood in the smallest blood vessels). Its action can be swift, and doses of 600mg or 1200mg a day have been used effectively. 

Long-term use of ALA may help prevent retinopathy in diabetics, which can cause blindness if left untreated. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit oxidative damage in the retina.

Cognitive Function & Memory, Useful for Alzheimer’s


Oxidative stress and inflammation can lead to age-related memory impairment. As ALA seems to access the brain with relative ease and has powerful antioxidant capabilities, there is a small amount of research in the area of cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s.

Increased cholesterol is also linked to Alzheimer’s, and ALA can reduce this. Clearly, more research is needed, but in various studies and sometimes in addition to other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, ALA has demonstrated an ability to slow the progression of dementia and improve Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In a study on aged mice, ALA improved memory and learning and appeared to do this by significantly increasing glutathione in the brain and reducing oxidative stress.

May Protect You from Heart Disease

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress could be an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, and in test tube studies, ALA has reduced several inflammatory markers in the body including C-reactive protein (CRP).

Heart disease is also linked to low levels of ALA.

Some studies support supplementing with alpha lipoic acid to improve endothelial dysfunction, a condition which can increase your risk of heart disease.

In adolescents with this condition and type 1 diabetes, combining an antioxidant diet with a daily dose of 800mg ALA reduced insulin requirements after three months and improved endothelial dysfunction after six months.

Increased oxidative stress and diminished antioxidant defence due to ageing can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, heart failure and atherosclerosis and ALA can protect against this.

Elevated asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) concentrations can predict the risk of cardiovascular complications in those with type 2 diabetes. In a 2010 trial, ALA reduced ADMA in these patients, improving endothelial function and oxidative stress. More research is needed.

An Easy-to-Absorb ALA Supplement with a Generous Dosage

Dual Alpha Lipoic Acid by Planet Source provides a generous dose of 1200mg, with one bottle containing a month’s supply.

The quality supplement combines 600mg of natural R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and 600mg synthetic S-Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is necessary to stabilise the R-form.

Made in the U.S.A. to impeccably high standards, the vegan-friendly supplement is free from salt, sugar, corn, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Jar of apple cider vinegar alongside some red apples

Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin, Hair and Weight Loss

Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin, Hair and Weight Loss

Apple cider vinegar has in recent years been suggested as a virtual panacea for mankind’s ills.

With a long history of usage as a home remedy, the vinegar is one of the most commonly-touted substances in the world of natural health: an ancient ‘superfood’ whose appeal is enhanced by wellness gurus, the influence of whom is compounded by massive social media platforms.

But what can apple cider vinegar do for skin, hair and those wishing to lose weight? In this article, we aim to outline the key benefits.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?


Apple cider vinegar is made when crushed apples and yeast interact to ferment fruit sugars and turn them into alcohol; afterwards bacteria is added to the solution, further fermenting the alcohol and transforming it into acetic acid.

The mysterious ‘mother’ is frequently mentioned when apple cider vinegar is brought up. The mother is simply a reference to the complex culture of beneficial bacteria inherent in the very process of making apple cider vinegar.

It is this mother which is deemed to be associated with the countless health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

Unrefined, unfiltered, ‘raw’ apple cider vinegar is the type to look out for, as it still contains the coveted mother culture. This particular ACV mightn’t look as appetising (it’s murky, while the refined, non-mother vinegar has a clear appearance) but it is the one known for its healthful properties.

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin

Speaking of therapeutic properties, one of the most commonly cited is for skin. Apple cider vinegar is employed in countless skin and beauty remedies, and is often diluted with water: it can cause a burning sensation if used undiluted, so most favour a 50:50 mix.

Topical application of apple cider vinegar offers a convenient, cheap and entirely natural alternative to synthetic skin creams or moisturisers. As well as keeping the skin fresh and supple, apple cider vinegar’s key skin benefits are outlined below

• Helps combat acne and blemishes

There are many reported accounts of individuals alleviating acne not with drugstore cleansers but with apple cider vinegar. The popularity of the treatment has rocketed in recent years, after actress Scarlett Johansson discussed using an apple cider vinegar face wash in her skincare routine.

It is thought that the vinegar’s antibacterial and antifungal properties are what make it so beneficial for those with acne, skin infections and outbreaks. ACV also works to remove excess oil from the skin and balance skin pH levels.

• Minimises wrinkles and age spots

There are more anti-ageing creams available on the market than we care to count, but apple cider vinegar is a great, 100% chemical-free alternative.

For age spots, it is usually recommended to apply undiluted, directly to the spots themselves, and repeat several times each day for at least 30 days. However, some have professed to achieve better results mixing the vinegar with fresh orange or onion juice rather than water.

• Draws toxins out of the skin

Adding a cupful of apple cider vinegar to a hot Epsom salt-infused bath may help flush toxins out of your body via the skin. The acids in apple cider vinegar can attach themselves to toxins and help the body eliminate them more efficiently.

• Cools sunburn

Yes, apple cider vinegar can even help cool the soreness of sunburn. Try adding around 200ml to a warm bath and soak in it for a quarter of an hour.

You can also use ACV as a salve: just mix 100ml with a litre of water and pour onto a towel to soak; then apply gently to areas of sun damage.

Of course, it should be remembered that what we ingest impacts the appearance of our skin; so as well as experimenting with topical application for specific complaints, you should consume apple cider vinegar to aid general detoxification.

A tablespoon in water once or twice a day should do the trick. Just don’t consume undiluted: straight vinegar, as with other acids, can damage the lining of the oesophagus and lead to ulcerations.

When applying ACV to the skin, you can blend with water, honey, natural juice or even a pinch of baking soda, to minimise irritation. Experiment to find out what works for you, or do a little digging online to read personal testimonies.

You simply do not need synthetic products to restore a youthful, clean glow to your face.

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do for Hair?

As well as being used as a face wash, apple cider vinegar has been suggested as a means of treating damaged hair and enhancing shine. There are several reasons for this. One is that because apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can lower the pH of hair (which deviates towards alkalinity) and thereby reverse signs of dullness or brittleness.

Another reason apple cider vinegar is proposed for hair treatment is because its mild acids and enzymes can help control the bacteria which leads to irritation of the scalp.

Rinsing your scalp with apple cider vinegar mixed with water is a great way of keeping the bacteria which causes dandruff, itchiness and flakiness to a minimum.

As noted by Hair Loss Revolution, apple cider vinegar is also an effective natural treatment for hair loss and helps to stimulate better circulation of hair follicles. The better your circulation, the stronger the roots and the healthier – in theory at least – your hair.

The alpha-hydroxy acid content of the vinegar furthermore exfoliates both the scalp and hair, permitting the removal of dead skin cells and build-up which can accrue from sweat or regular haircare products.

To make an apple cider vinegar rinse for your hair, blend a cup of water with 2-4 tablespoons of raw ACV. After shampooing and rinsing, simply pour the blend over your scalp and allow it to soak into your hair. Massage into the scalp and, after a minute or two, rinse fully.

You might also want to consider adding a drop or two of lavender oil to the mix; like ACV it has antimicrobial properties, and a 2016 animal study showed it capable of increasing the number of hair follicles in female mice.

Is It Useful for Weight Loss?


A number of human studies bear out the claims that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss, mainly by increasing satiety. In one study by Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition, those who consumed ACV with meals ate on average 200-275 calories less per day.

The results dovetailed with data from the Lund University in Sweden, showing that consumption of 30ml of ACV not only improved blood sugar and insulin but prolonged the state of feeling full in healthy adults.

In a third study, published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, apple cider vinegar intake correlated with a reduction in body weight, body fat mass and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Participants taking 15ml of ACV per day enjoyed all these benefits, though those taking 30ml enjoyed greater reductions in subcutaneous fat.

“Energy intake, meal content and physical activity did not differ among the three groups throughout the test period. Therefore, vinegar intake was considered to decrease the BMI of obese subjects via a reduction in body fat mass, regardless of the type of adipose tissue,” noted the researchers.

You may choose to gulp a tablespoon before your main meal, although it is most commonly added to warm water and drunk. Raw honey makes an appealing natural sweetener for those who can’t abide the powerful (some say unpleasant) taste.

The important thing to remember is that you must take ACV consistently to enjoy the weight loss benefits: that means months rather than weeks. Still, there are so many advantages to incorporating apple cider vinegar into your wellness plan, and the majority of them will be noticeable before any reduction in fat.

What About Heart Disease Risk?


It may not be the most well-documented benefit, but apple cider vinegar can help to lower cholesterol thanks to the presence of pectin, a complex carbohydrate and soluble fibre found in apples.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol, binds itself to pectin and is eliminated from the body as waste. The antioxidant chlorogenic acid also protects LDL cholesterol particles which hang around from becoming oxidised, a vital step in hampering the heart disease process.

Furthermore, mice studies have shown that the acetic acid in ACV is useful in reducing serum cholesterol and triglycerides, and as mentioned, human studies prove that drinking apple cider vinegar along with high-carb meals can increase the ‘fullness’ feeling and reduce the number of calories you eat for the rest of the day.

Given that body weight is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, this only strengthens the claims that ACV helps in this area.

Along with a good-quality fish oil, consuming apple cider vinegar is a recommended step towards protecting your heart.

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can fulvic acid really reverse aging?

Can Fulvic Acid Help Reverse Aging?

Of all the beauty products you own, we bet you never dared to use something that comes from dirt to make you look younger.

Fulvic acid has grown in popularity over the years as a supplement that can improve human health. In particular, it can help take years off your skin by working at a cellular level.

Here’s everything you need to know about this “ultimate nutrient booster.”

What is Fulvic Acid?

Fulvic acid is a type of acidic, organic compound that is naturally found in the Earth’s soil, bodies of water and rock sediments. It belongs to one of two classes of humic acids and is a natural byproduct of several microbial metabolic processes.

In other words, it is produced when organic plant matter is decomposed and releases millions of healthy, beneficial bacteria into the environment. This is why many children are encouraged to go play in the dirt. It’s not an insult; it's actually good for you and your skin!

Fulvic Acid and Skin Health

Many people don’t realise it, but good skin starts with a healthy gut. A properly functioning digestive system is crucial for absorbing nutrients that deliver all sorts of healthful benefits. In particular, your skin needs vitamins and minerals to keep it young and wrinkle-free.

Fulvic acid has been shown to help improve nutrient absorption, making it easier for your skin to get those much-needed nutrients.

According to a 2016 study, fulvic acid provides raw nutrients that engender significant improvements to the bacteria living in the gut, lowering many digestive ailments and increasing the rate of nutrient absorption.

Fulvic acid also transports minerals and other important nutrients to cells, boosting the absorption rate by making them more permeable. It has even been shown to fight inflammation of the digestive tract, which is important for proper nutrient absorption.

Fulvic acid ultimately improves the body’s pH levels when taken as a supplement. By restoring alkalinity, humic acids work to reduce skin disorders by flushing free radical toxins from the body such as bacteria, fungus, yeast and other organisms.

One 2005 study found that fulvic acid was able to bind to heavy metal toxins in its environment. This shows that fulvic acid can effectively render heavy metals harmless by moving them out of the body where they cannot accumulate and cause skin conditions such as acne, scarring or wrinkles.

Fulvic Acid Helps with Detoxification

Inflammation is a major cause of skin damage, especially from the sun. The sun’s rays are the number one cause of wrinkles in humans. Fulvic acid has been shown to fight inflammation that may help reduce a number of skin conditions.

A 2014 study found that fulvic acid contains antioxidants that fight free radical damage and detoxify the body of many toxins that contribute to inflammation.

Historically, fulvic acid has been used as a remedy to treat rashes such as poison ivy, viral infections, poison oak, athlete’s foot and spider bites. Evidence shows that fulvic acid can protect the skin and treat wounds or irritations such as bug bites, eczema, rashes and scrapes caused by fungus.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology, supplementing with fulvic acid provided significant improvements to patients with symptoms of eczema, even when compared to other treatments.

How It Works

When compared to other organisms that are found in the soil, fulvic acid easily passes through cellular membranes where it can be absorbed into the digestive tract.

It also assists in the breakdown of other nutrients, making digestive easier and increasing the bioavailability of nutrients such as vitamin E and vitamin C, which are needed to boost collagen production and restore skin health.

It contains a major source of antioxidants and electrolytes to slow down the aging process and reduce inflammation. It also improves several cellular processes that are needed to assist with cell regeneration, which is an important part of keeping skin healthy.

Its structure is made out of organic polymers and several carboxyl groups that result in an electric charge by releasing hydrogen ions that remove free radicals, toxins and heavy metals from the body. They also discard waste by transporting ions and stimulating the immune system to fight off infections and viruses that can contribute to poor skin.

Fulvic Restore is extracted from a sustainable area in the southeastern United States using only water: no chemicals are employed whatsoever. As a result, Fulvic Restore is one of the most concentrated sources of natural fulvic acid on the market today. It contains a wide range of trace minerals that restore and replenish the skin deep within its surface to provide lasting results on a cellular level. Why not try it for yourself today?

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Is Your Shower Water Causing Your Skin Woes and Even Eczema?

The first step in treating any skin condition – dryness, itchiness, acne, rashes, eczema – is to identify its cause.

After all, if there is frequent contact between your skin and the cause of the problem, you'll want to remove or avoid the cause before spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a remedy.

Believe it or not, one common source of irritating skin conditions is the water in which we shower every day.

But fear not – there are solutions at hand.

Causes of Dry Skin Conditions


Many are lucky enough to have only occasional bouts of dry skin, usually on the hands, face or behind the knees and elbows. Others battle with eczema, dandruff or other skin complaints throughout their lives.

Whether you’re trying to prevent the next round of eczema, or attempting to keep your skin soft, elastic and hydrated, these are some of the potential concerns regarding your shower water.

1) Acidity of Water


Detergents and soaps do not dissolve well in water that is highly acidic or highly alkaline, primarily because acidic and alkaline minerals block the solution.

If your water falls into either category, you may have noticed that it’s exceptionally difficult to wash soap from your body, out of your hair and out of your clothes.

This is also why it’s so tricky to get the soapiness off your hands after working in water containing bleach or dishwashing liquid. These are strong alkalis.

While soap is an effective cleaning product when washed off immediately, it dries out skin that’s in constant contact with it.

And washing with special shower gels may exacerbate skin problems: they don’t wash off in such water either, and may even block your pores and cause acne if they stay on.

Scrubbing rigorously to get moisturisers out of your skin’s pores will aggravate the problem further by causing sensitive, itchy, red spots.

2) Overly Hot Water and Excessive Bathing


Hot shower water may destroy the natural oils in your skin, leaving it dry and itchy. It could also burn you and damage skin cells.

These spots will almost certainly dry out completely while those dead cells are replaced with new ones.

This is similar to what happens when you spend too much time in the sun.

While it is less common, some people’s skin is also sensitive to cold water and can develop tiny cracks in response to it.

Here’s another point: while we all want to be clean, twice a day should be the maximum number of times you shower. Water and soap wash off the natural oil with which your skin coats and moisturises itself.

Your skin must then re-moisturise every time you step out of the shower. Some people’s skin is just not capable of doing this too often.

3) Chlorine, Chemicals and Heavy Metals


British water authorities add chlorine to tap water primarily to keep it free of bacteria. They also apply other chemicals to clean recycled water so that it’s fit to drink.

Additional chemicals and heavy metals make it into the water via old water pipes, contaminated soil around your home, contaminated soil around Britain’s rivers and reservoirs, and so forth.

Some people have an acute response to chlorine and even break out in hives after exposure.

Others have a less dramatic but still irritating response that involves itchiness and dryness of the skin. Iron, zinc, copper, lead and other heavy metals can have the same effect.

These substances can also change the consistency of creams and the skin’s natural oil from runny oils to waxes, which can clog pores and cause acne.

Strategies to Prevent Dry Skin Conditions and Flare-Ups

Water Temperature

Shower in warm, rather than hot, water. This serves many purposes.

It prevents the skin from burning, limits the amount of chlorine steam you inhale and destroys less of your skin’s natural oils.

Think of the water temperature you use when scrubbing greasy pans; scrubbing an oily surface with soap and near boiling water removes the oil quite effectively, but this is not what you want on your skin.

Abandon or Reduce Soap

Consider using soap only on important areas like your armpits, genitals, hands and feet while merely rubbing the rest lightly with a washcloth or sponge.

Alternatively, use less soap to decrease soapy residue, especially if your water is particularly acidic or alkaline.

If abandoning soap doesn’t appeal, natural oils like coconut oil are useful due to their antibacterial properties.

Avoid products with fragrances, alcohol, synthetic antibacterial ingredients, preservatives and additives. These can all cause a worsening of eczema symptoms.

Invest in a Dechlorinating Showerhead


The vast majority of people benefit when chlorine is removed from their shower water, including those without serious skin conditions.

If you do not struggle with eczema, a dechlorinating showerhead could still prove to be a wise purchase. It might even save you money on moisturisers, since the natural oil in your skin will not be dried out at the same rate as when you shower in chlorine every day.

And since chlorine is present in the water from the municipal water supply up to your bathroom, you can still enjoy its antibacterial effects.

Moreover, together with chlorine removal, the Biocera Dechlorinating Showerhead includes antibacterial balls that kill bacteria which could still be lurking in the water.

Consider a Tap Water Filter and Chelator

 

If you live in an area with groundwater or badly contaminated municipal tap water, don’t worry – there are ways of eliminating heavy metals and other harmful chemicals from your water supply.

One way of doing so is to use the Energy Plus undersink water filter, which removes contaminants – chlorine, chloramine, lead, bacteria, fluoride etc – in addition to infusing the water with beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

The water produced by the Energy Plus also benefits from a higher pH than plain old tap water, and contains molecular hydrogen – an emerging antioxidant.

If you’re still concerned about heavy metals – perhaps you already use a filter which removes other contaminants but not metals – buy a chelator gel to apply to your skin before showering.

This will trap the metals on the surface of your skin, preventing them from penetrating into the pores and drying and damaging the skin.

Conclusion

If you already have an alkaline water filter in your kitchen, and can’t currently afford another, try to keep the sensitive skin on your face out of your shower water; when you need to wash your face, use water from the alkaline filter instead.

Since it’s highly alkaline, use only a little soap – or better still, no soap at all. This will save your most sensitive skin from chemicals, metals and chlorine.

Bottom line: there are ways of eliminating the causes of many irksome skin conditions – and they don’t require an extensive and expensive moisturising routine.

Follow our tips and you can keep your skin healthy and hydrated while limiting the various harmful effects of heavy metals.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Help Save Our Planet by Using a Non-Toxic Sunscreen This Summer

Help Save Our Planet by Using a Non-Toxic Sunscreen This Summer

Sunscreen is quite literally a life saver. It protects millions of people from potentially deadly skin cancer, especially during the summer.

But this seemingly innocent product for skin also has a dark side, as it can also harm human, animal, and plant life, however, by spilling millions of litres of artificial chemicals into the sea, the rivers, the soil, and our drinking water that many commercial brands contain.

The Detrimental Effects of Chemical Sunscreen are caused by:

Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is one of the most common ingredients in sunscreen. It is soaked up by the skin from where it absorbs UV rays to protect the skin from sun damage.

Many researchers have found that it can interfere with hormonal functioning, alter sperm type and production, and cause skin allergies. It has been found to have a massive effect on the reproductive health of fish.

It also penetrates the skin so deeply that it reaches organs from where the body must struggle to destroy and excrete it like it does with any harmful toxin.

Octinoxate

Octinoxate (or octylmethoxycinnamate) is also absorbed by the skin and found in many popular sunscreens. It also mimics hormones and can thereby have detrimental effects on the thyroid gland, reproductive health, and even behaviour.

Homosalate

Homosalate is included in most sunscreens and has been found to disrupt the functioning of hormones like androgen, oestrogen, and progesterone, and can thereby have negative reproductive consequences for both humans and animals.

Octocrylene

The ingredient octocrylene causes skin allergies in some people. It also penetrates the skin deeply, and thereby contributes to the toxic load that the body carries and must neutralise and expel.

The effects on animals and plants are unknown, but the fact that it can cause skin allergies probably means that it is toxic to animals too, especially fish that are permanently surrounded by it in their natural habitat.

Octisalate

Octisalate in sunscreens does not harm reproductive health, but can cause skin allergies in humans and is another deep skin penetrator.

Paraben Preservatives

As the name implies, these are not sun filters, but common sunscreen preservatives. They are hormone disrupters, so can cause reproductive difficulties and skin allergies.

Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A palmitate) is not a sun filter either, but many sunscreens include it because it protects the skin against aging.

Research is mixed on its health effects. Vitamin A is obviously not harmful, but some studies, including one by the American Food and Drug Administration, have found that it can become cancerous when mixed with palmitic acid, as in retinyl palmitate. But this is possibly because the vitamin A comes from a synthetic source, so is not well recognised by the body.

Chemical Sunscreen Versus Natural Sunblock

The above chemicals are included in most commercial sunscreens. They are meant to be absorbed by the skin from where they filter out UV rays, a bit like the water filter under your sink filters out the impurities in your tap water. This is essentially how a sunscreen works. UV rays hit the skin and are then filtered out by chemicals that the skin has absorbed.

Sun blockers, on the other hand, are applied to your skin from where they block or reflect the UV rays away from the body. They basically seal the skin so that no UV rays can enter that then need to be filtered. Instead of chemicals, sunblockers contain natural minerals like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

The Benefits of Natural Sunblockers

They are natural and do not contain harmful artificial chemicals. This is healthier for you as the user and for the fish, plants, and other animals who desperately try to stay disease-free on this planet that we are polluting with so much enthusiasm.

They are effective, with most popular brands going all the way up to Sun Protection Factor 50. They remain on your skin's surface.

Unlike chemical sunscreens, they do not block pores and you do not have to scrub hard to get them off, unless you buy the ones that contain moisturising oils.

They are not as water resistant as chemical sunscreens. While this sounds like a disadvantage, it is actually good to wear a sunscreen that does not block out the sun all day. Our bodies need sun for normal development, as you will see below. You can make your own at home.

They may not be as effective as those you buy, but you can obtain moderate sun protection without breaking the bank.

Homemade Natural Sunblock

The most effective, most easily obtainable natural sunblock ingredients are non-nano zinc oxide (the particles in nano zinc oxide are too small to remain on the skin surface), red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil.

Unfortunately, these are not especially available, nor especially cheap. Almond oil, coconut oil, and shea butter are more easily obtainable, but they are a lot less effective. Avoid citrus essential oils, as they appear to increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun.

The Recipe

Mix the oils of your choice, in the amounts of your choice. This is not very specific, but so long as you include more oil from the most effective list than from the not-so-effective list, you are off to a great start.

Heat them in a double boiler, which you can make by hanging a metal bowl above a pot of water that is busy boiling on the stove.

Continue to stir until the oils become runny enough to mix well. Then add some zinc oxide powder and continue to stir the mix until it has completely dissolved.

It is advisable to wear something over your face so that you do not inhale the zinc oxide.

Alternatively, simply take your favourite natural moisturiser, warm it in a double boiler, and add the zinc oxide. The more zinc oxide you use, the higher the sun protection factor will be.

Use Only When Necessary

Wear a natural sunblock when you go to the beach or a municipal swimming pool, but do not apply it when you are merely walking around the streets or garden.

The only way for your body to obtain vitamin D is by converting the sun's rays on the skin to vitamin D. You should, thus, ensure that you spend enough time in the sun without a sunblocker, especially if you eat mostly natural food that has not been fortified with additional vitamins.

A sunblock wearer that eats almost no fortified food will suffer from a serious lack of vitamin D, without which bone and muscle tissue do not develop normally.

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How to Achieve Beautiful Summer Skin the Natural Way

How to Achieve Beautiful Summer Skin the Natural Way

From childhood until old age, men and women rely on a wide variety of cosmetics to keep their skins radiant, elastic, and blemish-free. The vast majority of these cosmetics consist of industrial chemicals, or at least contain such chemicals in addition to natural oils. It is, accordingly, unsurprising that cosmetics create as many skin conditions as they solve. The best way to acquire beautiful and healthy skin is the natural way, with the variety of natural oils and vitamins nature has on offer to us.

The Structure and Function of Skin

The skin consists of three layers. From outside to inside, these are the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis.

  1. The epidermis is responsible for our skin tone, for filtering out ultraviolet radiation, and for blocking watery foreign substances from entering our bodies. It also contains Langerhans cells that fight off potentially harmful substances as part of the immune system. These cells sometimes over-react to harmless substances, like soap and oil, to produce skin allergies.
  2. The dermis is where hair start growing, where pain is felt, and where sweat and oil are produced. The oil that moisturises the epidermis is produced and stored here. Cells in the dermis give the skin its strength and elasticity.
  3. The hypodermis is primarily made up of fat to protect the organs and veins that run beneath it.

Beauty is Middle Layer Skin Deep

When people think of skin health, they usually think of the colour and texture of the epidermis, because that is the part they and everyone else can touch and see. However, true skin health requires paying a lot of attention to the inner layers too. An attractive skin tone is important, so the outer layer should be cared for. But elasticity and moisture are equally important to prevent stretch marks and to keep skin cells alive. This can be achieved only by caring for the middle layer too.

The Skin Benefits of Natural Oil and Vitamins

Oil has undeservedly acquired a poor reputation in the mainstream, because many people fail to distinguish between healthy unsaturated and vitamin-rich oils that aid heart, liver, and skin health and unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated oils that clog arteries and cause obesity. If you do not distinguish between healthy and unhealthy oils, you will deprive your skin of many essential oils without which it will age faster and lose its glow.

Put the Moisture Back In

Oil can help the skin retain its elasticity to combat stretch marks and wrinkles. Dry skin tears when it is stretched, or stretches successfully but then fails to contract smoothly when the stretch is over. Moist skin stretches and falls back into place successfully. Try this with an old and a new elastic at home. The old one will either break or develop small tears when you stretch it, and will retain those tears when it falls back into place after the stretch.

Oils Work Well Alongside a Diet Rich in Vitamins and Water

Oil and vitamins can protect the skin against aging. Like all other cells in the body, skin cells must die and be replaced quite frequently to remain effective. The skin pushes out dead cells through its layers to the epidermis where you wash it off in the shower. But since our bodies become less capable of producing healthy new cells as we become older, we should slow this process as much as we can by keeping the cells alive for as long as we can. We have a varied selection of vitamins and minerals as well as our water products which you may find useful in maintaining youthful skin.

Skin Must Keep Moist to Look Beautiful

Depriving skin cells of water and oil dries them out and kills them while providing them with moisture keeps them alive for longer. Furthermore, some vitamins protect cells from damage and help the skin to produce healthy new cells to replace the old ones. By creating a moist envelope on top of the skin, oil can prevent the skin's natural moisture, produced in the dermis, from escaping.

Pay Attention to Skin Cell Health

By maintaining the cells that create skin pigmentation in the epidermis, and by helping the skin produce healthy new cells to replace old ones, oils and vitamins can fade age spots, scars, and stretch marks. The damage of the scarring will remain, but healthy new cells and pigmentation can cover them a bit.

Oils Could Ease Eczema Type Skin Conditions

Dry skin is more likely to become itchy, be scratched, and become infected. In this way, oils ingested that moisturise the skin, can ease the symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, and other itchy skin conditions. Eczema is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune cells that are meant to prevent harmful substances from entering your body through your skin over-react to a basically harmless substance by attacking healthy skin cells. Natural oils are less likely to trigger such an autoimmune response than the chemicals in synthetic cosmetics.

Eat Your Healthy Oils

While topical oils have a place in skin care, oils that are ingested orally play an equally important, if not more important, role. Topical oils evaporate after being applied to the skin. This is why skin specialists recommend that you treat dry hands and feet by applying an oil at night and wearing gloves or socks to bed to reduce evaporation. This should not come as a surprise. One of the main functions of the epidermis is, after all, to prevent water and other foreign substances from entering the body. It is its job to repel the oils that you apply to your skin. As ingested oils moisturises the skin from the inside, the skin does not repel it and it can actually do its job.

Skin Healthy Oils and Vitamins

Coconut Oil

Organic coconut oil can be ingested as a vegan butter substitute, a cooking oil, a chilled no-cook dessert base, and a flavouring and creamer for soup and stews. It can also be applied topically as a moisturiser and works great as a massage or bath oil.

Store it in a cool cupboard to prevent it from melting, as it does at room temperature, or from becoming rock hard, as it does when chilled.

Some researchers have found that topical coconut oil can hydrate the skin, protect wounds from bacteria and aid healing, and remove dry skin and bacteria from the skin following some skin conditions.

Ingested coconut oil has been found to be protective against oxidative stress, thereby helping cells to stay alive and healthy for longer.

Fish Oil Supplements

Fish oil supplements come in several different forms, from those loaded with EPA and DHA, to those loaded with ALA, to those that lack a fishy smell and taste. Most are in capsule form and are easy to take.

Some scientists believe it can relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and reduce the sunburn response by promoting cells that make the skin less sensitive to ultraviolet radiation.

Flaxseed Oil

Organic flaxseed oil is popular to use in salad dressings and to scoop into smoothies. It comes in oil and capsule form.

Some researchers have found that it can reduce skin irritation, sensitivity, reddening, drying, and scaling for those with certain skin conditions and for those who are healthy.

Olive Oil

Organic olive oil is delicious in salad dressing, on bread, in pasta, and as a stir-fry oil.

Some researchers believe it inhibits oxidative stress, and thereby facilitate slower aging of cells in the skin as well as in the rest of the body.

Avocado Oil

Organic avocado oil can be used in salads, as a cooking oil, and as a topical moisturiser. It is popular in the natural health community as an antioxidant to help prevent cell damage and is often taken as a substitute for olive oil.

Hormones and Diet Play a Major Role in Skin Health

Since many skin conditions are caused by an over-abundance of hormones in the skin, by slow turnover of dead cells, by over-active glands that produce too much fat in the dermis, and by other non-moisture-related problems, no advice on skin health can ignore the roles that vitamins A, C, D, and E play.

If you look through the ingredients of almost any face cream and soap, you will find some of these vitamins. A vitamin A shortage, for example, makes it more likely that you will develop acne and dry or scaly skin. Similarly, diets high in vitamin C are believed to result in brighter skin with fewer wrinkles and better sun resistance.

If you are unsure whether your diet contains sufficient amounts of these vitamins, you can take a good vitamin supplement.

Be a Natural Skin Beauty  

As well as being a beauty accessory, your skin is also responsible for keeping your body safe from bumps, toxins, and sunlight. By giving it all the help it needs to fulfil these roles, by choosing to consume only healthy oils, ensuring your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals and is free of harmful chemicals, it will reward you by looking youthful, radiant, and undamaged.

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Do Shower Head Filters Protect the Skin From Toxins?

Do Shower Head Filters Protect the Skin From Toxins?

Many of us focus on the foods we ingest to ensure, as much as possible, that we prevent toxins from entering our body. Yet at the same time, we often fail to appreciate what we absorb via the skin – our largest organ of all.

Many personal care products contain ingredients that we should never let near our skin, which is why we should look carefully at labels before making such a purchase.

Using a shower head filter is just one way you can protect your skin from damage caused by toxins such as chlorine. In this article, we'll look at the negative consequences of prolonged exposure to such toxins.

The Dangers of Showering in Toxic Water


When we are bathing or showering, our pores open up and can easily absorb toxins, many of which bioaccumulate in fat cells and intercellular fluid. That is why we should look at dechlorinating our shower water.

With over 3 trillion pores and a surface area of some 20 square feet, it is only natural that our skin should absorb chlorine, especially when you factor in the temperature most people shower at: warm temperatures make absorption easier, not least because they increase the likelihood of our inhaling toxins when breathing water vapour.

The hotter the water, the higher, too, the concentration of chloroform in the atmosphere.

This combination of what your skin absorbs, and your lungs inhale, makes showering in chlorinated water more than a fleeting concern.

In North America, perhaps more so than in the United Kingdom, the dangers of doing so have been underscored. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency noted some time ago that “virtually every home in America has a detectable level of chloroform gas in the air due to chlorine and showering.”

Researcher Bruce Black, during a meeting of the American Chemical Society, echoed this view: “Taking long, hot showers is a health risk… Householders can receive 6 to 100 times more of the chemical by breathing the air around showers and baths than they would by drinking the water.”

When inhaled, chloroform – which is produced naturally from chlorine – can cause heartbeat irregularities, wreak liver and kidney damage and cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea. It has also, like chlorine, been classified as a probable carcinogen.

While you can open windows to improve ventilation and minimise the risk of chloroform exposure, and endeavour to shower in water that is not piping hot, the simplest option is to install a shower head filter which gets rid of chlorine (and by extension chloroform) altogether.

Using a Dechlorinating Shower Head

The Biocera Premium Shower Head Filter is a great option. Not only does the shower head protect skin from toxins by effectively reducing the levels of chlorine in the water, but its bioceramic balls – which comprise dechlorinating ceramic balls, tourmaline far infrared ceramic balls and antibacterial balls – help energise the shower water itself.

It is a very cost-effective health investment and makes showering a far more pleasant experience, without the horrible chlorine smell. It is particularly beneficial for our skin and hair, as well as for respiratory problems aggravated by chlorine.

As an added benefit, the shower head filter helps save about 25% of water. Stylish and functional, it is easy to fit in place of your existing shower head. The dechlorinating cartridge requires replacement every 4 to 6 months, while the second cartridge does not require a replacement.

What About Other Detox Supplements?

If you are keen to combat toxins more generally, Zeolite Plus is definitely worth a look. Specially formulated to support the body’s capacity to deal with heavy metals and other neurotoxins, it is composed of zeolite, humic acid, fulvic acid and over 70 trace minerals.

There is also some evidence to suggest that omega-3 oils can also counteract damage caused by air pollution.

According to the 2017 study, omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in flax, hemp and fish oils, can “both prevent and treat the inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution, delivering a 30-50% reduction in harm.”

As such, using a high-quality daily fish oil supplement such as UnoCardio 1000 is a good idea. WHC’s omega-3 formulation has been ranked #1 for quality by independent aggregator Labdoor for several years. In addition to the anti-pollution effects, you’ll benefit from 1,000 i.u. of Vitamin D3.

Conclusion

If we are intent on eliminating 100% of the synthetic chemicals we come into contact with, we are fighting a losing battle. However, we can certainly limit our exposure and protect our skin by drinking good clean water, using a dechlorinating shower head filter, eating organic (pesticide-free) where possible, eschewing alcohol and avoiding fried food. Choice supplements can also help to rinse your system of impurities. Ultimately, it is about making smart choices every day.

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