inflammation

Nutrients Important For Healthy Skin, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

How is skin health related to nutrition and detoxification? Problems with digestion and the gut can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut allows food particles and toxins to escape the digestive tract and make their way into the blood stream, where they trigger an immune response. This immune response can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including as skin conditions.

Digestive imbalances and impaired gut health also can cause a deficiency in nutrients needed for skin health, as well as overall health. Poor gut health and dysfunction, leaky gut, and nutrient deficiency can adversely affect detoxification processes in the liver (poor detoxification capacity results).

When we have a build of up toxins that cannot be excreted through normal routes (the liver is our major detox organ), those toxins will make their way out somehow, often that somehow is through the skin, and this can cause all sorts of skin conditions.

If you suffer with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (among others), you likely have digestive and gut imbalances and dysfunction, leaky gut, and impaired detoxification capacity.

Keep in mind that common food triggers for eczema include gluten, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter), and eggs. Dairy products also adversely affect the lining of your gut, contributing to leaky gut. Yogurt in particular is not eczema friendly because it can be loaded with extra sugar, and it contains histamine (amines) because it's fermented where histamine is also a trigger for skin problems. Grapes, oranges, kiwi, soy, tomato, avocado, broccoli, dried fruit, deli meat/processed meat, and junk food can all wreak havoc for your eczema. Foods noted below are examples of those that contain nutrients important for skin health. If you suffer from eczema avoiding the common trigger foods may help, and determining which components of certain foods cause your reactions can help as well as they can be found in a very wide range of foods. Histamine and amine foods, salicylates, oxalates, nightshades, citrus foods, among others are often offenders in eczema sufferers.

Discovering your personal triggers may take some trial and error, everyone is different. A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions customized for your case.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for healthy skin and detoxification

Nutrients important for healthy skin/skin barrier: Carotenoids (Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene), Zinc, Vitamin C, Biotin, Calcium, Selenium, Silica, B3, K2, Sulfur, Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3 and 6), Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Peptides, Protein, Vitamin E, B5, Vitamin D, CoQ10, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Curcumin, Resveratrol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Foods containing nutrients for skin health and detoxification

Peptides: Food derived bioactive peptides include milk, egg, fish and meat, soybean, grains (corn, rice, wheat)

Protein: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught  fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Vegetarian: miso, natto, tofu, tempeh, rice/hemp/pea protein powders, plant based burger alternatives

Omnivores: eggs, fish, meat, poultry

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K2: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Calcium (non dairy sources): Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans, lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), amaranth

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Silica: Leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb, Fiji brand water

Sulfur: Chicken, haddock, sardine, cod, beef, dried peaches, egg, turkey, spinach, onion, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, figs, beans/peas, leeks, endive, potatoes 

Flavonoids (a class of polyphenols): Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Curcumin: Turmeric, curry powder, mango ginger 

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate): Green, oolong, and black teas, carob flour, pecans, filberts, hazelnuts, raw cranberries, pistachios

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol: Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

Protein and collagen supplements

Collagen: Provides skin and gut barrier support.

Protein: Provides much needed amino acids. In a state of "illness" or rather chronic inflammation/chronic immune responses your body has higher protein needs. Protein is needed to build all cells and structures in the body, including those involved in skin. 

General recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important For Preventing And Managing Insulin Resistance And Diabetes, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals that play important roles in glucose metabolism and insulin signaling pathways may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Shifting from a diet that is nutrient-poor to one that is nutrient-dense, low glycemic and high fiber is important, and a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals can help you avoid nutrient deficiencies that are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. A diet rich in plant foods including fresh whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains (like a Mediterranean style diet) can improve how genes that control insulin function and obesity work (where obesity is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes). Along with eating a nutrient-dense diet to resolve nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle modification (including stress management), engaging in interval training and physical activity, and the appropriate use of dietary supplements can enhance mitochondrial function (energy production) and reduce oxidative stress, where these factors are important for improved glycemic (blood sugar) control.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Nutrients important for managing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes: Vitamin B3, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, inositol, carnitine, glutamine, CoQ10, glutathione, cysteine, lipoic acid, zinc, magnesium, chromium, vanadium, quercetin, resveratrol, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA), PABA, GABA, antioxidants

Foods containing nutrients for the management of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice

B12: Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Inositol: Inositol is found in cereals and vegetables as phytic acid (combination of inositol and phosphorus). Lecithin granules, beef heart, desiccated liver, wheat germ, lecithin oil, liver, brown rice, citrus fruits, nuts, leafy green vegetables, molasses

Carnitine: Beef steak, ground beef, pork, whole milk, cod, chicken breast, avocado, asparagus

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Lipoic acid: Broccoli, spinach, red meat, organ meat, Brussels sprouts, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, Brewer's yeast

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Chromium: Brewer's yeast, mussels, oysters, pears, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, tomatoes, broccoli, egg yolk, prunes, herring, dried basil, turkey breast, cheese, organ meats. Food rich in vitamin C (red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries) can improve absorption of chromium.

Vanadium: Mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsely, dill weed, beer, wine, whole grains, tomatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, garlic, radishes, onions, cabbage

Quercetin: Apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, raw asparagus, raw red onion, olive oil, black and green tea, beans/legumes, cocoa

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

DHA and EPA: (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats) Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Whole grains, folate rich vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches), Brewer's yeast

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): Fermented foods (kimchi, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt). Flavonoid phytonutrients may enhance GABA function (berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, tea, cocoa, wine).

Antioxidants: Virtually all plant foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, kidney beans, dark chocolate

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.


Nutrients Important For Your Tonsils And Adenoids (Immune System), And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system, and are made of lymphatic tissue. They work by trapping germs that come into the body through the nose and mouth. Adenoids usually shrink after age 5.

Because of their location, tonsils and adenoids are the first line of defense against pathogens that we eat or inhale, making them an important part of our immunological defense mechanisms. They also are important for the health of our oral and digestive microbiomes (good bacteria in our mouths and guts respectively).

When we have enlarged, inflammatory and infectious problems with our tonsils and adenoids, it means our immune system is in overdrive and something is chronically triggering this heightened response. Problems with tonsils and adenoids are a symptom that something else is happening in the body.

Removing the tonsils and adenoids (the usual treatment for persistent issues) does not necessarily address the underlying cause of why the immune system is chronically stimulated. Leaving this issue unaddressed leads to further health problems over time. 

Seventy percent of our immune systems reside in our gut microbiome. Imbalances here adversely affect our entire bodies. Gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut bacteria) and leaky gut are primary causes of chronic immune system stimulation, dysregulation, and inflammation in the body.

Before undergoing surgery for tonsil and adenoidectomy, many patients have been on multiple rounds of antibiotics, and use over the counter pain medications to manage symptoms.

  • Antibiotics damage the gut microbiome leading to dysbiosis and leaky gut, weakening the immune system, and impairing digestive health.

  • Pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can adversely affect the integrity of the gut, the microbiome, and therefore the immune system.

Whenever we have gut involvement and impairment of the microbiome, this also adversely affects the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients from foods we eat, leading to further complications of nutrient inadequacy and deficiency.

To support the immune system from a nutritional perspective, it is beneficial to explore diet, food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances, and the health of the microbiome.

  • Poor diet can adversely affect the microbiome and lead to dysbiosis and leaky gut.

  • Food allergies and sensitivities cause dysregulation of the microbiome, and dysregulation of the microbiome can cause food allergies and sensitivities, resulting in leaky gut.

  • Food allergies and intolerances are linked to adenoid and tonsillar enlargement. 

A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions for YOUR case to address your gut and immune system.  

There are interventions that can be implemented now to strengthen your immune system and calm down its chronic stimulation. Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease. 

We start by removing inflammatory processed, sugary, and artificial foods from the diet. Gluten, dairy and soy are frequently problematic.  We can also incorporate foods containing immune boosting nutrients into our diets.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help boost your immune system

Nutrients important for boosting the immune system: Vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E, folate, iron, selenium, zinc, probiotics

Foods containing nutrients to help boost your immune system

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, hazelnuts, cashews

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Probiotic foods*: Kefir, cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, coconut Kefir, natto, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, salted gherkin pickles, tempeh, miso, brine-cured olives

*Some probiotic foods are dairy and soy, and can be problematic for some people. Probiotic foods are also high in histamine, which some people are sensitive or intolerant to.

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.

Tonsil and Adenoidectomy Post Op Diet Ideas

It is important to stay nourished and hydrated after surgery, therefore getting in adequate protein and liquids is important for healing and for overall health and wellness. 

Hot (temperature and spicy), acidic foods (like citrus and tomato), and crunchy foods may irritate the throat after surgery and should be avoided. Think cool and soothing.

Start with liquids and add soft solids as you are able.

What to eat and drink:

  • Lots of water

  • Coconut water is a natural and healthy source of electrolytes (instead of Gatorade or sports drinks)

  • Coconut ice cream (preferred over regular dairy* ice cream)

  • Milk alternatives: almond, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut, hemp, and rice

  • Banana ice cream    

    • Frozen banana, berries, other favorite items (even raw cacao to make it chocolate), can add coconut oil and/or avocado for healthy fats and calories, blend in food processor or blender

  • Chocolate pudding (made healthy)

    • Mashed avocado, raw cacao powder to taste, honey or maple syrup to taste (really tastes like chocolate pudding AND is loaded with healthy fats)

  • Applesauce, soft canned fruits like peaches, mashed bananas

  • Cooled soups, bone broths (with soft, well-cooked rice, vegetables and protein sources like very soft tender chicken or fish) 

  • Oatmeal (cooled)

  • Well-cooked rice (cooled)

  • Mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes are more nutrient dense) (cooled)

  • Mashed butternut squash, other mashed squashes (even zucchini) (cooled)

  • Very cooked/soft/pureed vegetables (cooled)

  • Add grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or ghee to foods for healthy fats

  • Smoothies are a great way to get in all sort of nutrients

    • Add fruit, vegetables, coconut oil and/or other healthy fats, other as desired, include probiotics, vitamins, pain medications, etc.

    • If feeling adventurous, add some baby kale or spinach to the smoothies, it might turn them green, carrots (orange), or beets (red of course), etc., but really has no taste to it otherwise, and it’s a great way to get in some vegetables and extra nutrients (and fun to drink different colored smoothies!).

  • Protein ideas

    • Add a favorite protein powder to smoothies, banana ice cream, avocado pudding, yogurt, etc.

    • Use an unflavored protein powder to add to mashed potatoes and oatmeal (and other foods) for example

    • Coconut or Greek yogurt (full fat versions)

    • Canned tuna or salmon

    • Soft, cooked and cooled fish

    • Scrambled eggs

    • Mashed beans, bean dips, hummus and lentils

*Dairy is a common allergen, is often loaded with hormones and antibiotics, and can cause leaky gut and inflammation.

For reference, examples of non-dairy foods high in calcium that can be eaten after surgery and as the area begins to heal include yogurt, mashed canned salmon, mashed beans and lentils, spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli juiced/added to smoothies, and enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks.