Like beauty, health is skin deep

by Karen Bowen

You’ve dropped your last load and now it’s time to head home for a few days off.

You pull into the yard with a sigh of relief…and then groan with disgust as you slam the driver’s door shut.

Your cab is covered with snow, slush and salt.

You know what you’ll be doing tomorrow – washing your rig.

But, it’s worth it.

What if you let the salt eat away at your cab, leaving cracks and holes?

What if you never replaced a broken windshield?

Can you imagine all the snow and slush landing on you – instead of the hood of your cab, or your windshield?

How would your engine stand up without the hood to protect it?

The outer shell of your truck does more than look great.

It stands as a protective shield, guarding its contents from the environment.

Just like your skin.

We take our skin for granted…and yet it is our body’s largest organ.

When working properly, it carries many responsibilities – it regulates body temperature, excretes wastes, protects tissues, and is a vital part of our defense against injury and disease.

Impaired skin condition means impaired health.

When our skin begins break down, the entire surface becomes a gateway for infection.

This time of year, with colds and flu everywhere, it just makes sense to keep our defenses up by keeping our skin in optimum condition.

We need to watch what we eat.

First of all, healthy skin needs protein.

Proteins form the building blocks of most body structures – including the skin.

As old skin cells fall off, new cells made largely of protein, grow from underneath to compensate.

Cells in the deeper skin layers synthesize new proteins to go into hair and fingernails.

So, you need to have an adequate intake of protein each day since your outer skin layer replaces itself every seven days.

Take a look at your skin and see if you’ve let your diet slip…does your skin look scaly and inflamed?

You may need some extra Biotin and Vitamin B 6.

Eat a little extra organ meats, eggs yolks, soybeans, fish, poultry, green leafy vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

But, if your skin is only scaly and inflamed where it’s exposed to the sun – you probably need more Niacin.

So, just increase the meat and fish.

Is your skin rough, dry and scaly?

Get some extra Vitamin A in dark green and deep orange fruits and vegetables.

If your skin and mucous membranes seem dry – drink more water (or, get your water from fruits and vegetables), and use skin lotion.

If the skin on your feet starts to peel and get very rough – rub it with Vick’s VapoRub (or similar product) before you sleep.

Leave on a fairly thick coating and then sleep with your socks on. Your feet will be smooth and soft by the morning. (This works for hands, too.)

If you notice these signs – itchy skin; pale nailbeds, eye membranes and palm creases; concave instead of convex nails; and slow healing, you’re lacking iron.

Eat more red meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, eggs, legumes and dried fruits.

Do you bruise easily?

Get some extra Vitamin C out of fruits and vegetables.

If you’re losing your hair, or have skin problems such as boils…you could be lacking zinc.

Eat more protein containing foods – meats, fish, poultry, whole grains and vegetables.

Healthy skin protects you like your truck cab protects you from the elements.

You take the time to scrub winter’s grime off your rig so, it lasts longer and looks great. Take the same time to keep your skin in great shape. It guards your health…with a bonus – healthy skin looks great. It’s not just beauty that’s skin deep…health is too. On another note, with a new year upon us it’s time to hold true to those New Year’s resolutions. If you have a health-oriented question, feel free to drop me a line. I may answer your question in a future column.

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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