How to Keep Your Skin Looking Fresh and Clear

To keep skin looking fresh and clear, a good cleansing regime goes hand in hand with steps that preserve inner purity.

Nowadays our bodies are increasingly bom­barded with pollutants and chemicals which overwhelm its natural coping systems. Accumulating toxins underlie many skin com­plaints and clearing them from the body can work wonders for restoring the natural clarity that comes from deep within.

What are toxins?

Toxin is an umbrella term that describes any sub­stance or chemical that interferes with normal metabolism. They can be ordinary metabolic wastes, viruses and bacteria, synthetic chemicals such as pesticide residues, and natural chemicals found in foods and drinks such as caffeine and alcohol. Like rubbish, toxins clog up the system and interfere with the smooth functioning of our organs and tissues, so we must get rid of them.

Pathways to Purity

There are several paths for toxin elimination and ensuring that these channels are working smoothly and efficiently is the key to inner cleanliness. Skin itself is an organ of elimination so if the other paths are congested it may take the strain. Puffiness and spots are a tell-tale sign that it's time to detox.

Blood and lymph - These are responsible for picking up toxins from the tissues and taking them to the liver. Tension, lack of exercise and anything else that impedes good circulation can result in wastes collecting in certain areas of the body.

To purify, take regular exercise, practise body brushing, eat plenty of cabbage, garlic, onions, beetroot, blackberries and blueberries. Wheat-grass juice is a supreme blood and lymph cleanser.

The liver - This is the body's major cleansing organ. It neutralises poisons and wastes as well as building essential molecules. Eating lots of fatty food and drinking too much alcohol taxes this organ. Waves of nausea, early morning tiredness and lack of appetite are tell-tale signs of an over­burdened liver. Pent-up emotions like anger and frustration also interfere with its work.

To purify, eat lots of bitter foods such as grape­fruit, lemon, endive and dandelion leaves. Extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, ginger, cabbage, artichokes and milk thistle herb (Silybum marianum - often abbreviated to silymarin) are especially renowned for their liver-cleansing and fortifying qualities.

The kidneys - These are filtering systems where wastes are removed from the blood, diluted with water and flushed away. Eating salt-laden food encourages the kidneys to reabsorb too much water which may lead to fluid reten­tion and puffy looking skin. Coffee, alcohol and diuretics on the other hand encourage excessive water loss and can cause mild dehydration. Dark circles and bags under the eyes are signs of poorly functioning kidneys.

To purify, drink plenty of pure spring water and cut back on salty foods. Good kidney toning and cleansing foods include artichokes, celery and asparagus. Sip infusions of tonic herbs like goldenrod, fennel and uva ursi. Add parsley, another kidney tonic, to salads and cooked dishes. Drinking home-made barley water is a great way to cleanse and soothe the kidneys.

The large intestine - This clears digested food remains from the body. Rhythmic contractions known as peristalsis move the waste material along the colon. As stress and tension interfere with these contractions and upset the natural flow of wastes, both diarrhoea and constipation can result. Over time the sticky remains of refined foods such as white bread and pasta may cling to the intestinal walls and clog up the system.

To purify, the natural roughage in wholegrain foods, fresh vegetables and fruits acts as an intestinal broom and ensures the swift passage of wastes through the colon. Soluble fibres like pectin (in apple skins) and alginin (in seaweed) mop up toxic substances and ensure they get removed from the body rather than reabsorbed Psyllium husks (available from healthfood stores) work in the same way, so try adding a teaspoon to your morning cereal.

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