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Personalizing Skin Health: Leveraging Functional Medicine Labs to Tailor Dietary Interventions and Supplements

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Personalizing Skin Health: Leveraging Functional Medicine Labs to Tailor Dietary Interventions and Supplements

The American Academy of Dermatology states 1 in 4 people will have some sort of skin disease. That number is about 84.5 million people within the U.S., costing $75 billion in treatments annually. With the prevalence of skin conditions on the rise, it is essential to understand some underlying factors that trigger these conditions and provide multiple options to address them. Often, skin conditions have various contributing factors that lead to the development or exacerbate a flare. Therefore, it's essential to personalize the protocols that address skin issues. We hope to provide that information through the insights shared in this article.


The Importance of Healthy Skin

Your skin can be a reflection of your health overall. Like all other organs, your skin is part of a larger system, not an isolated organ. Due to this, imbalances in other body parts can affect your skin health as it is the largest organ system. Factors like nutritional deficiencies, microbiome imbalances, systemic inflammation, food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, and stress levels can significantly impact your skin's health. These imbalances can lead to common skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and aging. Recognizing that the health of your skin is connected and influenced by other body systems is essential, as unhealthy skin is a sign of other possible issues. Addressing these underlying factors to improve skin health can also improve overall health.

The great news is that many integrative approaches, such as dietary interventions and evidence-based supplementation, can support skin health.

The Impact Of Diet On Common Skin Conditions

Nutrition plays a critical role in maintaining healthy skin, whether you're dealing with acne, eczema, or the natural aging process. Studies have shed light on the impact of certain foods on acne development. Dairy products that are high in hormones and saturated fat have been linked to acne breakouts. Chocolate, including dairy-free options, can trigger inflammation in the skin. High-glycemic foods like refined sugar and processed grains can disrupt hormonal balance and promote sebum production, exacerbating acne. Similarly, nutrition influences eczema, with food allergies, sensitivities, gut health, and inherited bacteria playing significant roles.

When it comes to aging skin, nutrition becomes even more critical. Nutritional choices, like intermittent fasting, support cellular renewal and metabolism, while a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet reduces inflammation and provides essential nutrients for skin health. Avoiding processed foods and embracing healthy fats, antioxidants, and hydration also helps combat aging effects. Additionally, being mindful of environmental toxins and making lifestyle choices that support detoxification can improve the aging effects on the skin.

The Impact of Food Sensitivities On Common Skin Conditions

Food sensitivities can significantly affect skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Food sensitivities are an immune and inflammatory response that can make people react to those specific foods, impacting their skin health. Some common foods, including foods high in sugar and dairy products, have been associated with acne as they can increase IGF-1 levels. With eczema, the immune response is often associated with dairy, gluten, and eggs. Furthermore, there is a connection between the skin and the microbiome. Dysbiosis and food sensitivities can disrupt this connection causing an imbalance in the microbiome and leading to acne, eczema, and other skin disorders like psoriasis. Reducing or avoiding food sensitivities and maintaining a healthy gut through proper nutrition can positively impact skin health.

Functional Medicine Labs That Can Help Individualize Treatment for Skin Health

Functional labs are a great way to assess some contributing factors to skin issues. Here are some commonly used labs by functional medicine providers: 


The microbiome is integral in maintaining overall skin health. Imbalances in the microbiome, known as dysbiosis, can disrupt harmony and contribute to inflammation and various skin disturbances such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. When the gut barrier is disrupted, it can impact skin health, and the GI-MAP test can assess for these imbalances.

Food Sensitivity

A food sensitivity panel can be a helpful functional lab for evaluating skin health. This test can identify specific foods that may trigger IgG immune reactions that can lead to inflammation, thus aggravating or contributing to skin conditions such as eczema, acne, or psoriasis. Individuals can make informed dietary adjustments to promote healthier skin by pinpointing these foods.

Micronutrient Testing

The Micronutrient Test assesses the function of essential nutrients within our cells, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Nutrient deficiencies can significantly impact skin health. Since the digestive tract is responsible for nutrient absorption, imbalances, inflammation, or a compromised barrier can hinder proper nutrient uptake, negatively affecting the skin. Micronutrients like zinc and vitamins are directly involved in skin regeneration and collagen synthesis. Therefore testing for these deficiencies can provide insight into overall skin health.

Hormone Panel

Hormones play a major role in skin health, particularly when it comes to acne. Imbalances in androgen hormones and IGF-1 can contribute to the development of acne. Utilizing a comprehensive hormone panel can provide valuable information to address skin conditions such as acne.  

Liver Enzymes

The liver is responsible for metabolizing and eliminating excess hormones. Excess hormones can contribute to skin conditions such as acne and aging, thus making evaluating liver enzymes a critical part of functional medicine. Assessing the liver enzymes within a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) can provide a bigger picture of the relationship between hormones and skin health.

Cortisol Panel

Increased stress levels can cause flares or trigger skin issues like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It can also accelerate the aging process of our skin. Using a test to assess cortisol responses throughout the day can be helpful in managing stress levels to promote healthy skin.

Dietary Interventions for Healthy Skin

Here are some beneficial dietary interventions to consider for healthy skin: 

Foods for Glowing Skin

There are specific foods that can support skin health, decrease aging signs, and leave your skin glowing. Berries like raspberries and blueberries are packed with antioxidants, and polyphenols can help with aging. At the same time, green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can provide vitamin C and chlorophyll for cell health. Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut and whole grains are high in fiber which can support gut health and detoxification and improve the diversity of your microbiome, leading to healthier skin. Healthy fats from avocados, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds contain essential nutrients like Omega-3s, vitamins A, E, C, and copper, promoting collagen production and reducing inflammation. These anti-aging foods can nurture your skin and maintain your overall wellness.

Importance of Hydration for Healthy Skin

Proper hydration has been shown to help maintain good skin health. A recent study found that increasing water intake positively impacted skin physiology. The results concluded that adding 2 liters of water per day for 30 days significantly modified skin hydration, and if you don't normally stay hydrated, adding this amount of water can have a bigger impact on your skin. Water is essential to healthy cells and tissues as it maintains physiological balance. So now is the time to grab some clean water and increase your water consumption. Your skin will love you for it.

Foods To Avoid For Better Skin Health

Certain foods can negatively impact our skin health. Therefore, avoiding some of these foods is important to maintain healthy skin. Firstly, most of us have heard that sugar, especially processed sugar, can generally be bad for our skin and overall health. Here is the reason why. Sugar plays a role in developing AGEs or advanced glycation end products which have been associated with various health conditions by negatively impacting tissues, including the skin. Sugar can bind to the collagen and elastin in the skin to form AGEs and impair its structure leading to wrinkles, discoloration, decreased elasticity, and poor healing. In addition to processed sugars, other processed foods often contain unhealthy fats, preservatives, and additives that can cause inflammation throughout the body, further damaging your skin health.

Another food that people with skin issues such as acne should avoid is dairy, which is high in saturated fats. Additionally, food sensitivities can trigger inflammatory responses as well that can worsen skin conditions. If you are looking to support your skin health, steering clear of these foods can be a helpful first step.

Any foods that shows up as moderate sensitivity or higher on the food sensitivity test, should also be removed for at least 30 days.

Supplements for Supporting Skin Health

Here are some evidence-based supplements often recommended by functional medicine practitioners to support skin health:  


As we age, the collagen in our skin starts to decline, which can lead to wrinkles and reduced elasticity. Collagen is an excellent supplement for skin health that can counteract these effects. Ten grams of collagen powder can help with reducing wrinkles and improving elasticity.

Omega 3

Omega 3s are an essential fat and are often used to improve inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis. The recommended dose for psoriasis is >1,800 mg (as EPA/DHA) per day for up to eight weeks for adults.


CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant. This supplement has been shown to reduce the effects of aging by decreasing ROS (reactive oxygen species). ROS is intrinsically linked to aging. A daily dose of 50 to 150 mg is recommended to improve signs of skin aging.


Curcumin is a constituent of the turmeric root. A comprehensive analysis of 18 studies concluded that the use of both oral and topical turmeric preparations had shown effectiveness in relieving various skin conditions, including acne, atopic dermatitis, pruritus, and psoriasis. Curcumin is shown to be safe in doses of 1000 mg to 12000 mg.


Functional medicine practitioners often recommend ashwagandha as an adaptogenic herb. This herb is known for its stress-relieving properties. It can help regulate cortisol levels, reducing symptoms of skin conditions such as acne when stress is one of the underlying causes. Taking ashwagandha in daily doses ranging from 225 to 600 mg is recommended for up to 12 weeks.


Astaxanthin is derived from microalgae and has been shown to reduce crow's feet and improve skin texture, and elastin at supplementation of 6 mg daily for eight weeks.


DIM comes from cruciferous vegetables and is used as a supplement to reduce excess androgens. These excess androgens can be a primary contributing factor to hormone-related acne. DIM is typically recommended at 100 to 200 mg daily for 1 to 12 months.


Probiotics are used to improve the balance of the microbiome. This supplement can decrease inflammation in the gut and positively affect skin health. A balanced microbiome is integral to the overall wellness and rejuvenation of the skin. The typical dose is 10 to 20 billion CFUs per day for adults.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Dietary Interventions and Supplements

Here are some practical tips for healthy skin:

Meal Planning

Incorporate some of the foods mentioned in this article that promote skin health into your daily meal plans. These can include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Reading Food Labels 

Pay attention to food labels and choose products with minimal additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Opt for whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Look for ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and nutrients that benefit the skin. Refer to the dietary interventions and supplements section in this article.

Gradual Dietary Changes

Make dietary changes gradually to ensure long-term success. Start by introducing slight modifications to your eating habits and progressively increase the incorporation of skin-healthy foods. This approach allows for more effortless adjustment and sustainable practices.

Consultation with Healthcare Professionals

Seek guidance from professionals such as licensed functional medicine providers. These practitioners can provide personalized health recommendations. They can help identify food sensitivities, specific dietary interventions and recommend appropriate supplements based on your unique needs and skin condition.



As the burden of skin disease continues to rise in the U.S. and around the world, it's crucial that individuals have multiple options to address these conditions. Having numerous options allows each person to individualize how they address their specific issues. Functional medicine offers many options, including labs, personalized nutritional plans, specific supplements, and other integrative therapies that provide a well-rounded approach to skin care. This well-rounded approach empowers individuals to balance their skin issues from the inside out to improve their overall skin and health.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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