Excerpt: Dr. Jessica Wu's 'The Feed Your Face Philosophy'

PHOTO The cover of the book, "Feed Your Face" by Jessica Wu M.D.
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Dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu explains how her diet improves your skin by eliminating blemishes and reducing wrinkles.

Read an excerpt from "The Feed Your Face Philosophy" below or click here to check out her website.

The Feed Your Face Philosophy

A few years ago a young father of three came to my office with what he thought was a rash. He was a strong, sturdy guy— a construction worker— with no health problems to speak of except for this per sis tent itch that was keeping him up at night. His pharmacist gave him oatmeal baths, his wife bought him all sorts of lotions and creams, but nothing worked. Even as we talked, he scratched and scratched and scratched, but when I examined him, I couldn't fi nd any rash. All the marks on his skin were self- infl icted, left over from his fi ngernails digging into his flesh.

There are all sorts of reasons for why someone might develop "itching of unknown cause," but it's a long and scary list (think liver problems, cancer, etc.). I didn't want to freak the poor guy out— at least not without knowing anything for sure— so we took some blood, I wrote a prescription for a soothing cream, and we sent his sample out for tests. The next day I got a call from the lab. This was not good news: The lab never calls unless something is seriously wrong. As fate would have it, the young man was in full kidney failure and very, very sick. I referred him to an internist who put him on dialysis that very same day. And all he had was an itch.

The Feed Your Face Philosophy

It is not my intention to scare the living daylights out of you here but, rather, to point out a simple fact: Your skin is important. It's not just what keeps your insides in; how it looks is an indicator of your overall health, and it's often the first (and sometimes the only) sign of serious illness elsewhere in the body. If your liver is in bad shape, you'll get jaundice (you'll turn yellow). Pale skin and hair loss are often the first signs of anemia. People with lung disease can appear pale and sallow (because they're not getting enough oxygen to the skin). Crash dieters can look gaunt, as if their skin were sagging. In fact, every time you visit a doctor— any doctor, not just a dermatologist— he or she checks out your skin as part of the overall examination. Taking care of your skin is a big part of keeping your whole body healthy.

Here's the good news: Getting beautiful, healthy skin doesn't have to be time- consuming, expensive, or intimidating. You don't have to forgo getting a great tan. You don't have to stop wearing makeup. And you definitely don't have to keep Olga, the Rus sian facialist, on speed dial. But before we can talk about looking good, we have to talk about how the skin— your body's largest organ— works. Here's a look at what's really going on in there.

It's Aliiive! Your Skin Is Living and Breathing

Just as your digestive system takes in food, processes nutrients, and gets rid of waste, your skin takes in nutrients from the blood, produces by- products (such as oil and dead skin cells), and sends what it doesn't need back into the bloodstream. For this reason we say it has its own metabolism, and how it functions is directly related to the fuel it receives (i.e., the food you eat).

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