We all lead busy lives with lots of nagging worries that distract us from paying attention to the more subtle messages that our bodies often give us. Your skin is one of your body's most important messengers, and the condition of your skin will often reflect your stress levels, dietary issues or inner health.
You may notice and respond to the more obvious messages like a sudden acne or rosacea breakout, but if your diet has been the same for many years, you may have accepted your dry skin, fine lines or redness as normal, when in fact your body has been sitting quietly at the back of the class with its hand raised, waiting for you to answer.
A good way to determine if your skin really is in its prime condition is to make some small dietary adjustments for a fortnight or so, and take a few minutes each day to pay proper attention to the way your skin is reacting (and if it reacts well, keep up with the changes!). There is a growing realisation in the community that sugar is no good for you, however another food worth avoiding in your quest for better skin is grains.
It's one of the harder things to avoid in our current society, where bread, cakes, pasta and rice dominate the landscape of available foodstuffs and grain derivatives lurk hidden in the ingredient lists of processed foods, however many people are finding that their skin, health and energy levels are all improved once they stop eating grains.
Why is this the case? Grains contain Phytic Acid, which blocks the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Your body needs these minerals to function optimally, and if you're taking supplements but still eating grains, then you may not be receiving the benefits you were hoping for.
A lot of grains also contain gluten, which can damage the microvilli in your small intestine, decreasing your ability to absorb nutrients and causing your intestinal walls to become leaky. This can create many unwanted digestive symptoms.
Another issue is the spike in insulin production that grains cause. The production of insulin is important for processing glucose and storing nutrients, however with the high levels of carbohydrates that we consume these days, our bodies can't cope with the insulin requirement. (This process also leads to a build-up of fat in your stores, if you need any more incentive to kick grains to the curb!)
All of these aspects affect your complexion, as the body uses the skin to release built-up waste (via breakouts) and when being fed with grains, struggles to find the necessary nutrients and minerals to keep it in prime condition. So we end up with dryness, more fine lines, pimples, redness or dermatitis, or even that dreaded phrase from friends, family or colleagues: Oh, you look so tired!
So do your skin a favour and experiment with your diet. Try removing grains and see what happens. There are plenty of resources and recipes on the internet if you're unsure what to eat instead of your sandwich or fried rice; a good place to start is to simply google for recipes from the paleo or low carb communities. But importantly, listen to your own skin and make the changes that it needs.