Skincare Powered by Functional Nutrition
By Kat Burki
January 10, 2021
While studying Nutrition as an undergraduate, I learnt about the body and how it responds to its environment, toxins, nutrition and stress, which is what later inspired me to progress and understand the importance of skin care.
At that time, we knew that trans-fats and pesticides were bad for us. We understood that our bodies did need fat but that it never appeared at the top of the food pyramid. Instead, it was whichever industry paid the most money (which was grains and cereals) that got top status, rather than what was best for our health. Fiber was also really popular (as with many things - food, nutrition and medicine all have fads and ups and downs), so I had all the ingredients and knowledge to embark on a very healthy, fiber-rich diet, incorporating 8-12 grain breads.
By the time I was in law school, I realized I was living in a toxic apartment and coping with a lot of stress from year one of school. My skin started looking dull and my breathing became labored. It was then, after my first-year final exams, that my body completely fell apart. That Summer, I pulled out of my job working for a healthcare attorney and decided to work ‘on me’. Growing up, my mother had read every health and nutrition book there was, and it was all that we talked about; so I would say, that between that and my studies, I was in a decent position to start peeling away what exactly was going on inside of me.
Many people aren’t so lucky, and would have been over medicalized in many instances, while never once looking at what they ate as a possible culprit. To make a very long story short, I finally realized that wheat was causing all of my issues - including my skin (remember my ‘healthy diet’ consuming all those grains?!) So, I found physicians who were trained in functional medicine, who knew to look at what you eat, and how you live first and foremost, rather than just writing a prescription. By my third year, I added on a Masters in Health Policy to my studies, to really dive deeper into understanding how most major disease categories around the world were heavily linked to nutrition.
Our skin is an organ, and works integrally with our body, but also has separate needs and requirements. Studies have demonstrated that topical skin treatments work better and faster than ingestible ones (makes sense as they travel to the intestines first). But, as we saw from my personal example - food, vitamins/minerals and gut health, still do impact the appearance of the skin as well - especially those that are inflammatory or dehydrating.
Skin conditions are often telling you that something is off. The good news is that the cells of the skin are constantly renewing and healing. Following on from what I mentioned previously, about how functional medicine concentrates on the ‘whole person’, I started to consider skin care in the same way. The whole person, the whole skincare regime and, where science really comes in, the whole ingredient deck (not just one key ingredient, but more importantly how they work together as super nutrients). Skin care should be considered as a continuum, which begins with getting the skin to what I call baseline.
To get to baseline, as it relates to how one approaches skin care, is - firstly, what am I putting on my skin that is adversely affecting it or rendering it ineffective? As I mentioned above, topical applications are crucial to consider, as oftentimes the problem lies with additives, alcohol, fragrance and/or even coloring in products. Some products have ingredients that completely block the efficacy of another (silicone is an example). Secondly, what am I not putting on my skin? Am I giving everything my skin needs to heal itself?
In part 2 of this article I will discuss, in detail, how baseline is achieved, what to do for targeted concerns, and what goes into formulating our products. I will also reveal why I created the first board certified skincare line to use the cold process method, giving your skin the tools to heal, protect itself, and to be its healthiest and most vibrant. It is absolutely possible to have even better skin today, than you had in your younger days.