Healthy bodies, healthy skin: Lipid balance in the Body
In a past blog, we discussed how the stratum corneum—the top layer of the skin (epidermis)—is largely made up of the lipids cholesterol, free fatty acids, and ceramides (read here to learn about the different types of skincare ingredients needed for healthy skin!). Today, we will cover factors beyond skincare which contribute to optimal lipid balance. Lipid balance is part of a healthy skin barrier and while proper care of our skin externally makes a big difference (hello, emollients!), there are other factors to be mindful of when working on promoting a healthier appearance of your skin.
What are lipids?
Lipids are organic compounds, fatty acids that support many functions in the body. Lipids are essential to cellular function, energy and hormone production, Vitamin absorption, and more (Noland, 2015; Ajiboye, 2022).They are also a part of sending chemical messages between cells, tissues, and organs (Thompson, 2023). In short, they are very important! So what impacts lipid balance in the body?
Ceramides, one type of lipid, support the skin’s hydration and function. Ceramides make up 50% of our skin’s composition content (Mckim, 2022). Ceramides are fat molecules which help prevent water loss, therefore helping prevent skin irritation and dryness (Price,2020). Hence, ceramides are a big deal when it comes to our skin functioning properly and appearing nice and hydrated!
One way we can promote adequate ceramides in the body is by eating healthy foods containing ceramides, including brown rice, beets, and spinach (Price, 2020). However, there are other key dietary factors which contribute to ceramides including inositol (aka vitamin B8) and omega 3s, which help the body with ceramide synthesis and production (Ghati, 2023). Foods high in inositol include fruits (oranges, peaches, pears, cantaloupe, grapefruit), meats such as beef, eggs, and chicken breast, whole grains, and vegetables (potatoes, bell peppers, and asparagus) (Agarwal, 2017). Healthy sources of omega-3s include fish and seafood, edamame, and avocados (Irvine, 2021). While commonly recommended as a source of omega-3s, I do NOT recommend canola oil. Stay tuned for another blog detailing information on healthy versus unhealthy oils soon.
Exercise induces change in the body’s lipid composition (Noland, 2015). Multiple studies have found that high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is improved as a result of exercise, namely high intensity workouts (Stanton et al., 2022), HDL-C being what is known as the healthy form of cholesterol. One function of HDL cholesterol is to pick up excess forms of other cholesterol and take it to the liver where it can be properly broken down (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2022). While this function is essential for so many other health factors, here is how it ties into the skin specifically: excess cholesterol circulating in the body can cause rashes, some characterized by fatty bumps on the skin due to fatty deposits collecting under the skin (Edwards, 2022). Therefore, the role of HDL-C removing excess cholesterol from the body directly contributes to promoting smooth, even skin tone. Since exercise promotes improved HDL-C, it goes to show that exercise then has a direct link to our skin’s overall appearance.
Studies have found that too little—and even too much—sleep has a negative impact on the lipid profiles in the body (Marcin, 2016). Even early research suggests that women are especially susceptible to the negative impacts of unhealthy sleep patterns in relation to lipid balance (Kaneita, 2008). Poor quality sleep has a strong impact on hormonal balance in the body, which can lead to heightened LDL-C (aka the “bad”) cholesterol as opposed to the HDL (“good”) cholesterol discussed above in relation to exercise (Bernstein, 2021). Ever wonder why your skin can look dull and tired following inadequate sleep? In part, sleep is an essential component to properly balanced lipids in the body which impacts the healthy appearance of your skin!
Wrapping it all up
Our skincare routine is not the only important factor in promoting glowing, healthy skin. Prioritizing a well-rounded diet, exercise, and adequate sleep all play a vital role which is why even as a skincare company, we value talking about topics that go far beyond our skin. Vitality starts from the inside out; great skincare is just a bonus!
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Ajiboye, T. (2022, October 26). What are lipids? Lipids’ function in the body and related risks. Verywellhealth. What Are Lipids? Function, Benefits, and Risks (verywellhealth.com)
Bernstein, S. (2021, June 16). How sleep affects your cholesterol levels. WebMD. How Does Sleep Affect Your Cholesterol Levels? (webmd.com)
Edwards, J.M. (2022, August 12). Can high cholesterol affect your skin? Healthline. Cholesterol Symptoms on the Skin: Signs to Look For (healthline.com)
Ghati, M. (2023, March 12). How can i get ceramides naturally. Clean beauty coach. How Can I Get Ceramides Naturally | Clean Beauty Coach
Irvine, H.M. (2021, March 17). 18 foods high in omega-3s for better brain health. Livestrong.com. 18 Foods High in Omega-3s for Better Brain Health | livestrong
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Marcin, A. (2016, March 23). Is there a link between cholesterol and sleep? Healthline. Sleep and Cholesterol: What You Should Know (healthline.com)
Mckim, F. (2022, January 30). What are ceramides and how can they benefit your skin? Woman&home. What are ceramides and how do they work? Experts explain all | Woman & Home (womanandhome.com)
Noland, R.C. (2015). Exercise and regulation of lipid metabolism. Progress in molecular biology and translational science, 135. 39-74. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.06.017
Price, A. (2020, April 27). What are ceramides? Benefits for dry, red or irritated skin. Dr. Axe. What Are Ceramides? Benefits for Skin and Hair - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, November 3). HDL cholesterol: How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol. Mayo clinic. HDL cholesterol: How to boost your 'good' cholesterol - Mayo Clinic
Stanton, K.M., Kienzle, V., Dinnes, D.L.M., Kotchetkov, I., Jessup, W., Kritharides, L., Celermajer, D.S., & Rye, K.A. (2022). Moderate- and high-intensity exercise improves lipoprotein profile and cholesterol efflux capacity in health young men. Journal of the
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Thompson, T.E. (2023, April 27). Lipid biochemistry. Britannica. Lipid | Definition, Structure, Examples, Functions, Types, & Facts | Britannica