Are stress and skin breakouts directly related? In most cases, experts believe they are. Different kinds of stress can worsen symptoms of chronic skin disorders. But why? Learn in this interview with Lisa Jones how skin and stress are linked and how a stress management diet can help you cope with stress.
Experts say emotions can have an impact on your skin. Some studies have even identified a stress-related hormone, called the glucocorticoid, which appears to worsen the symptoms of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Do you believe stress is involved in many skin disorders?
Yes, it certainly can worsen symptoms of current skin disorders. Inhibiting glucocorticoid, a type of steroid, can prevent skin abnormalities induced by psychological stress, according to a study from the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. The study also shows how psychological stress induces skin abnormalities that could initiate or worsen skin disorders such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
Previous research has shown that psychological stress increases glucocorticoid production. In addition, it is well recognized that psychological stress adversely affects many skin disorders, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
How come psychological stress can have such a big impact on health?
Stress produces a biological response and prolonged stress places a tremendous load on many organ systems, especially the heart, blood vessels, adrenals, and immune system.
Can other kinds of stress also aggravate your skin?
A stressor may be almost any disturbance such as heat or cold, environmental toxics, toxins produced by microorganisms, physical trauma, and strong emotional reactions that can trigger a number of biological changes to produce what is commonly known as the a “stress response”.
Can diet increase the level of stress in your body?
Yes, most Americans are not providing the body the high-quality nutrition it deserves and consume refined foods high in calories, sugar, fat, and cholesterol. People who suffer from stress or anxiety need to support the biochemistry of the body by following some important dietary guidelines that include:
- Eliminate or restrict the intake of caffeine
- Eliminate refined carbohydrates from the diet
- Eliminate or restrict the intake of alcohol
- Increase the potassium to sodium ratio in the diet
- Eat in a relaxed environment
- Eat regular planned meals
- Manage food allergies
What kind of foods increases stress and how do you determine which ones are bad for your own skin? Does it depend on each person?
Alcohol produces chemical stress on the body. It also increases adrenal hormone output, interferes with normal brain chemistry, and interferes with normal sleep cycles.
Refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour) contribute problems with blood sugar control, especially hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which is closely related to depression and anxiety.
Consume foods rich in potassium such as bananas and avoid high sodium foods to help support adrenal glands.
Food allergies have been linked to chronic fatigue so it is best to rule out possible allergies which vary person to person.
How can a stress management diet help?
Nutritional support for a person who has signs and symptoms of stress largely involves supporting the adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands control many body functions and play a critical role in the resistance to stress.
If a person follows a healthy diet it can help with stress management.
Is there any scientific proof that nutrition plays a role in stress management?
Yes, research shows healthy eating plays a crucial role in your ability to withstand times of extra stress.
Carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are all important for energy, mental concentration, and emotional stability.
Stress may increase your body’s need for certain nutrients and weaken your immune system, so you may need an extra healthy diet to stay focused, alert, energetic and to ward off colds and flu.
If you eat a healthy diet most of the time, you will be prepared to stay healthy during times of stress; if you live off of fast food or unhealthy snacks, you are more likely to perform poorly or get sick during stressful times.
According to you, what are the best stress-fighting foods?
Vitamin C-rich foods are often recommended to keep the immune system working properly during times of stress. Other foods recommended are whole grains, legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, liver, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Your best tip for relaxing?
Eating right and exercise of course!
Some people say that subconscious mind wants our skin to be exactly how it is. What do you think of it? Is emotion/stress management with proper nutrition an endless struggle in this case?
No, I don’t believe it is an endless struggle. I personally notice if I don’t eat right and drink adequate fluids my skin doesn’t look as healthy. Also research continues to show a correlation between nutrition and the largest organ of our body: our skin!