If you’ve ever had a blistering sunburn, used a tanning salon, or just spent too much time in the sun, you need to read this.

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before the age of 70 and many are diagnosed in their 30’s and 40’s.

I can’t tell you how many times a young woman (yes, skin cancer impacts young women too) asks me casually about a little “pimple” that isn’t going away and it turns out being a skin cancer that requires extensive surgery and changes her life forever.

Even the tiniest little ditzel on the nose can require a flap, a graft, and leave you with a permanent scar.

Unfortunately, most of my patients don’t actually start practicing sun safe behaviors until they get that dreaded phone call.

Every time I make a phone call to give a patient a diagnosis of skin cancer, I get a terrible pain in my stomach and an ache in my heart. It’s probably the hardest part of my job.

Although we know how important sunscreen can be when it comes to skin cancer prevention, even people at high risk for skin cancer often forget to apply or reapply. With skin cancer on the rise, there’s an obvious need for additional preventive measures.

You guys have heard me recommend sun protective clothing, a broad rimmed hat, sunglasses, and you’re probably sick of hearing me tell you to seek shade during the peak hours of sun exposure (11-2pm). Now there’s mounting evidence that taking a certain vitamin can provide even greater protection.

Recent studies show that taking an oral supplement called nicotinamide every day can actually reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3 but, unlike its cousin, niacin, nicotinamide does not cause flushing or headaches. It’s actually very well tolerated and has a great safety profile. Studies, including one in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that taking nicotinamide daily can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.

How does it work?  UV rays increase your risk of skin cancer in 3 main ways: by damaging the DNA in your skin cells, suppressing your own natural immune response to tumor growth, and last, by depleting the energy stores in the form of ATP.  Normally ATP is used by your skin cells to repair damage, but sun exposure makes our ATP levels plummet, so we don’t have the cellular energy to repair the DNA damage that’s being done. Nicotinamide is actually used by the body to make more ATP, so it boosts cellular energy and enhances DNA repair. When you take nicotinamide, it helps to build up enough cellular energy to repair the damage done by harmful UV rays.  

The form of nicotinamide I recommend to my patients is Heliocare Advanced. I often recommend Heliocare to my patients who want to be proactive about having healthy, radiant skin. However, for those of you who know you’ve seen a bit too much sun in your day (yeah, you know who you are!), I’d highly recommend using the new Heliocare Advanced supplement every morning. The added nicotinamide is exactly what your skin needs. If you’ve had skin cancer already, it’s a no brainer.

With this post, my hope is to reach at least one person before he or she gets that dreaded phone call, and I’m hoping it protects him or her from that experience forever. My intention is never to scare you – it is to inform and empower you with the most recent advancement to optimize your health and of course, the health of your beautiful skin! I am honored to partner with Heliocare to bring you this information.

Dr. Whitney

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The science surrounding nutrition and the skin is my passion. I am fascinated by the reality that we can heal our skin through something as accessible and simple as our diet! But, I am not going to recommend “fads” to my patients. Anything I recommend has to be the real deal, grounded in studies, and proven to be safe and effective.

I know how critical collagen is to our skin’s health, appearance and elasticity. Collagen is actually the most abundant, naturally occurring protein in our body. It’s essential to the health of our skin, bones, joints, cartilage, hair and nails!

A little science for my fellow science geeks out there!

Collagen is a triple helix, meaning it is comprised of 3 long chains of peptides that wrap around one another. These long, thick peptide ropes live in our dermal layer (the deeper layer of our skin) and keep our skin plump, elastic and smooth. Long chains of peptides like collagen create the scaffolding our skin requires to remain firm and healthy. When our collagen fibrils and other peptide chains start to break down faster than they can be replaced, as a result of age, sun exposure and other environmental triggers like stress, pollution and smoking, it shows up in our skin as wrinkles and loss of elasticity.

Specifically, beginning in our mid-twenties, we begin to lose approximately 1 percent of collagen per year. During menopause, our skin loses collagen very quickly. Studies show that our skin loses up to 30 percent of its collagen during the first five years of menopause, after which the decline in collagen is approximately 2 percent each year! So, the concept of supplementing our collagen, especially as we age and as our body’s natural collagen production declines, is incredibly appealing from a dermatological standpoint!

To be completely transparent, when I first considered the efficacy of ingestible collagen, I was a bit of a skeptic. I questioned how such a large collagen chain could first survive our harsh gastric juices, then be absorbed intact through tiny openings in our gut lining, and ultimately arrive into the skin to help smooth and plump our skin’s appearance. I was extremely intrigued by the delivery mechanism and wanted to better understand how this might work.

So, I took a deep dive into the studies and became more and more excited about what I was seeing.

How Does Ingestible Collagen Help to Smooth Your Skin?

Here’s the quick, quick version: the collagen you eat and drink goes into your stomach, where an enzyme called pepsin breaks it down into fragments. These fragments consist of strands of 2 or 3 amino acids and are called dipeptides and tripeptides. They are then absorbed through your gastrointestinal lining where they are released into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, the fragments are able to travel to different parts of your body, including your skin, your hair follicles, your bones, and your cartilage. When these fragments arrive, they act like stress signals, notifying your body that “damage has been done”, which tells your body that it is time to go into “repair mode.”

Studies show that if you take collagen on a daily basis for between 4 and 12 weeks, it can improve skin elasticity, hydration, and even improve the appearance of wrinkles. Although these studies are considered small and somewhat preliminary, they are very promising, which helps to explain why the ingestible collagen market is exploding!

My Favorite Collagen Supplements

Not all collagen supplements are created equal!! I have tested and reviewed the studies behind many of the products that are on the market today. One product stood out to me and has become my personal favorite – and the brand that I recommend to my patients – Body Kitchen™ Peptide Fortified Collagen.

Based on my review of both published and unpublished literature, it is becoming clear that certain fragments, or di-peptides, are more effective or potent than others. That’s how certain collagen powders stand out! Body Kitchen™  collagen is fortified with HYP-Proline + HYP-Glycine, which also go by “PO” and “OG” — two di-peptides that have been shown to stimulate proliferation of skin fibroblasts AND boost hyaluronic acid production in the skin. The highly concentrated formula makes Body Kitchen’s supplements more potent and more effective than competitor products.

I am genuinely so impressed with the quality and science behind these products that I became BK’s Physician Ambassador. I’m so excited to share this cutting edge line of supplements with you!

 

You guys responded with so much love to my Stressing 24/7 is B-B-Bad to the Biome post, where I explained the connection between stress and our skin. Stress is a constant in so many of our lives and in so many of our days. It impacts our entire bodies – and, of course – our skin.

As I explained, when your brain perceives something as stressful, your fight or flight response is activated. Once that happens, the digestion in your belly slows as your blood is shunted away from your intestines toward your extremities (just in case you need to fight or flee). Given that you most likely don’t need to do either, this is just disruptive to your body’s healthy functioning.

Stress hormones also restrict the contractions of your digestive muscles, and diminish your digestive juices—all of which forces food to sit idly in the GI tract, inviting an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. These unsavory characters cause your intestinal lining to grow weak and leaky, allowing toxins to spill into the bloodstream, and triggering body-wide inflammation and a host of potential diseases. You’ve heard me talk about Leaky Gut and Leaky Skin, so this is what we are talking about.

Of course – exercise and meditation are incredibly effective options when it comes to dialing down chronic stress. And admittedly, although I meditate regularly now using my Breethe or Headspace app, this was not exactly a smooth transition for me. My brain is always racing, I love to try to do a million things at once . . . sitting still is not my natural state (at all). But, with practice, it has gotten easier and my entire day shifts when I actually take the time to meditate.

But, as a reality check, sometimes we just need something that works quickly and is accessible and easy. As a working mom, when I’m in the middle of juggling and trying to keep my cool, sometimes I just need something in a pinch to help me get back to zen and I don’t want to reach for pharma-grade medications. I love to find safe, effective natural options and I love to share them with you.

I saw OLLY’s Goodbye Stress Gummies at the pharmacy and the packaging was bright and appealing – so I decided to investigate. I reached out to the company to share more information on the product. The deets – these gummies are made with L-Theanine (an amino acid frequently found in tea), GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human cortex. Here, we are talking about the food supplement version of GABA), and Lemon Balm (an herb known to have relaxing properties). They are made without artificial flavors or colors (their color comes from sweet potato, radish, apple, tomato, and pepper).

This is an area that is not regulated by the FDA, so I always proceed with caution and do my research. I looked into these ingredients from a scientific standpoint:

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea which may modulate aspects of our brain function. Specifically, EEG studies show that it has a direct effect on the brain by relaxing our brain without inducing drowsiness. The levels and doses needed to induce this effect need to be studied in greater depth, but the science here is fascinating.

With respect to GABA, it turns out that many consumers find that GABA supplements provide a calming effect but the scientific studies aren’t entirely convincing yet –we truly need more studies in order to better understand whether this is a scientifically proven effect or a placebo effect.

And, lemon balm is an herb from the mint family. In alternative medicine, many people believe that lemon balm has calming effects. It can be ingested, inhaled or applied topically, and some early studies are showing that it might be promising for anxiety and even insomnia.

I also checked in with my friend, Natalie Gluck, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice in New York City. Natalie added – these gummies aren’t habit forming and shouldn’t increase drowsiness. “The sugar in the gummies is likely the most addictive ingredient,” Dr. Gluck says.

After reviewing the science, I was ready to try the gummies and invited my sister to try them, too! We genuinely felt a difference in our stress levels after taking the gummies. They worked quickly (within 30 minutes) and the feeling of being overwhelmed was really somewhat mitigated. I felt no mental cloudiness and maintained my energy levels and clarity.

Was it a placebo effect or was it real? I decided to reach out to a group of my friends, who range from multitasking moms to corporate executives, to see what they thought. Check out their experience.

To learn more, check out this link: https://www.olly.com/products/goodbye-stress/.

Dr. Whitney

 

Great for: addressing signs of aging, Melasma, protection against skin cancer

Sunscreen doesn’t protect against half of the free radical damage we face every day. That’s where your Heliocare natural supplement comes into play. Heliocare is a patented specialized extract of Polypodium leucotomos (PLE), a tropical fern native to Central and South America that has been used for centuries as a remedy for skin related conditions. The science behind Heliocare is strong and solid, which is critical to me when I recommend a product to people who trust me or use it myself.

Made of a powerful blend of antioxidants, Heliocare protects your skin from the inside out from free radicals. Those free radicals can come from UV light, infrared light, visible light, pollution, or even from our natural metabolic processes. Heliocare is one extra layer of protection against premature signs of aging, including brown spots, and skin cancer. I suggest that my patients take one pill every morning. If you’re heading out in the sun, consider taking 2 each morning. But it’s not a substitute for sunscreen. It’s meant to work synergistically with sunscreen.

Studies have shown the fern extract protects against free radicals, so it is one of the best ways to protect against hyperpigmentation. My Melasma patients swear by Heliocare. Once they start using it, they finally see their skin start to brighten and their tone start to even out. I am honored to partner with Heliocare to bring you this information!

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Beauty is so much more than skin deep, as I often say. Your diet has a direct impact on the health and radiance of your skin. I encourage my patients to incorporate skin-friendly fermented foods and beverages such as kombucha, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut into their diets. I also encourage my patients to supplement their healthy diet with an oral probiotic to boost their skin’s glow.

The word “probiotic” literally means “for life.” Oral and topical probiotics support the health of the “good bugs” that make up our microbiome, to keep our gut and skin healthy. To keep it simple, among their many health boosting jobs, probiotics:

  • fight bad bacteria in our gut and on our skin,
  • help regulate our immune system by working to control inflammation, and
  • support the healthy barrier function in both our gut and skin, preventing “leaky gut” (and “leaky skin”)

But, all probiotics are not created equal. Different strains of probiotics serve different purposes and, certain probiotics are much more effective than others. For example, the most studied families of oral probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Several strains of Lactobacillus have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk of skin disorders from the inside out. They have also been shown to improve the strength of our skin barrier, keeping our skin nourished and hydrated. This family of probiotics has also been studied and linked to reduced UV-induced sun damage in the skin.

The Bifidobacerium strains also have demonstrated the ability to protect against sun damage. While I would not advocate replacing your sunscreen with a probiotic, used together, they offer enhanced sun protection! Of course, the more protection we have against UV rays, the lower our risk of skin cancer and premature signs of aging, such as wrinkles and brown spots.

To keep my signature “Bowe Glow”, I take a probiotic supplement every day and I encourage my patients to do the same to nourish their skin from the inside out! One of my favorite probiotics is made by Genuine Health. It’s called advanced gut health probiotic 15 Billion CFU Daily Care. This probiotic contains 15 strains chosen to mimic our gut flora and the capsules are delayed release, meaning they are protected from the stomach acid so they can survive all the way to the gut, where they have the maximum impact. Research has shown that this particular probiotic’s formulation and delivery system increases the delivery of live Lactobacillus and Bifidobacerium bacteria by up to 10x! They are also vegan, dairy free, gluten free, non GMO and soy free.

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