When switching to the raw food diet, many of us start to become more aware of our bodies. As the nutrient-rich food we intake helps mold us toward our ideal weight and shape, one issue keeps coming up that many readers write me about, especially those who have shed a lot of extra pounds by going raw: stretch marks!
Good thing for us, with the raw food diet and its anti-aging benefits, time is on our side. So let’s start now eliminating—or, better, preventing—those insidious little lines that appear for many of us as stretch marks.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks, called striae, have their cause in rapid stretching of the skin, especially when the skin is not hydrated enough to withstand it. Avoiding rapid weight gain or loss is of utmost importance in their prevention. Striae most often look like shiny red or purple bands or stripes that become glossy, whitish, and resemble scar tissue. They might also be slightly depressed in relation to surrounding skin.
There are two theories as to exactly why striae develop. One is that the skin stretches so fast it tears, forming scar tissue. The other theory is that increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) prevent connective tissue from forming, weakening the dermal layer, which then tears.
The second layer of your skin, the dermis, contains both elastin and collagen. Collagen is a structural protein making up about 75 percent of our skin. Striae actually begin with the stretching and breakdown of collagen, causing interference in the natural order of the collagen fibers.
More practically, striae appear when someone loses weight quickly, or during pregnancy, or in the presence of some medical conditions such as Cushing disease, diabetes, or when someone has used cortisone compounds for long periods of time. As those of us who are mothers will not find surprising, pregnancy is the number one precursor to stretch marks, followed by rapid weight loss.
If you are noticing stretch marks, you will want to ensure adequate collagen synthesis in your body by consuming foods rich in Vitamin C. Among its many other benefits, Vitamin C is a major player in collagen production. Fortunately, there are so many raw foods that are rich in Vitamin C that our job is easy. For vegetable sources, try collard greens, kale, and red peppers to start with. Add, of course an assortment of citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemon are chock full of Vitamin C. The body doesn’t store Vitamin C, so you must consume it daily. Eating a good hydrating raw food diet, rich in Vitamin C, is your first line of defense against stretch marks.
Some Beauty Devices Can Help
Exfoliation is your next best friend. Stretch marks will respond quite well to consistent dry skin brushing. Out with the old, in with the new! Collagen production is stimulated by removing dead cells on the skin’s surface to encourage new cell production. You want to slough off the old, deformed collagen and allow new, healthy cells to take their place.
The Rolling Bed of Pins is an invaluable aid to your skin’s natural healing process. Using it not only helps promote the breakdown of scar tissue, but the gentle action of the pins helps stimulate circulation and the production of new, healthier skin cells, filling in stretch marks and restoring elasticity.
Another option to consider is Cupping Massage, a practice that gives a strong enhancement of capillary blood flow which is especially important in those areas of your skin experiencing stagnant blood flow – scar tissue and stretch marks.
Additional Helpful Practices
Even with dietary changes and effective massaging and exfoliation improvement will take time, but it will happen. In the meantime, some people have had success in reducing the appearance of striae by massaging regular 3% hydrogen peroxide into them daily.
Avoid overexposure to the sun. Even though you want to gently sunbathe every day to get sufficient natural Vitamin D, you will want to avoid the sun during the hottest hours of the day, as this will only serve to further break down and damage new skin cells. Be responsible with your daily sunbathing—overexposure will do nothing but defeat your purpose.
Prevent Future Stretch Marks
While you work on minimizing our current stretch marks, you will want to make sure you are preventing future ones. If you stick with a sensible raw food diet, you will be improving your circulation as well as flooding your body with all the needed nutrients and vitamins to help your skin renew itself with healthy cells.
A regular exercise routine, especially one that includes regular stretching – such as hot yoga – will actually prevent stretch marks for it will allow your skin to stay supple as well as keeping your capillaries healthy and strong. Having a regular exercise routine will also help keep your weight in a healthy and steady range, for rapid weight fluctuations is a major cause of stretch marks. When it comes to pregnancy, when rapid stretching of the skin fibers can hardly be prevented, many women report that keeping the stomach moisturized can minimize stretch marks, with cocoa butter being the most popular moisturizer.
As with most things, remember to be patient. Give your body time to make the improvements you are striving for. If it is too late for you to avoid stretch marks by practicing prevention, you can, with time, drastically minimize them by focusing on two simple concepts. First, form healthy skin from within with a hydrating raw food diet. Second, exfoliate to shed the old layers of less than healthy tissue. If you feel the need, apply a little pure coconut oil after your skin care regimen to keep your new healthy skin supple and glowing.
Now, where did you hide that bikini?