A brief weather report, yesterday was -25 without the wind chill and we have had three weather advisories in as many days. Between the extreme weather this time of year, the hot water we use to stay warm and our heating system, our skin really takes a beating in the winter months. The skin is not only our largest organ but is extremely important as our primary defense against the elements, to minimize the damage and reduce the ravages of aging, proper nutrition is paramount. There are three important categories of foods for healthy skin.
The first rule is the one found in all nutrition books and throughout this blog. Eat a healthy and balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and grains, preferably raw to retain many of the nutrients found in the foods. This is the cornerstone of all healthy eating and should be adhered to whether you have cancer or dry skin. Of particular importance to healthy skin are the antioxidants, vitamin C, E and beta-carotene. These vitamins attack free radicals and harmful agents that attack the skin. When consuming foods, try and ensure you are eating orange and yellow varieties as these contain many of the antioxidants that are supremely important for the skin. Examples of good choices are cantaloupes, carrots, papaya and oranges, these will provide you with the valuable vitamin A, C and beta-carotene. Vitamin E is found in most nuts and seeds and will be addressed in a further paragraph. Cigarettes destroy vitamin C and smokers should take note as the supplementation requirements are, subsequently, increased.
The second rule to adhere to is the consumption of beneficial oils, such as Omega 3 or flax seed oil. Flax seed oil consumed on salads or drizzled on vegetables (raw oil, not heated) is of utmost importance. Other healthful oils are those found in nuts (walnuts, almonds and Brazilian nuts are good choices) or those in cold water fish such as salmon or shellfish. The oils will serve to lubricate the skin even in the harshest of environments.
The last rule to keep in mind is the addition of sulfur in the diet. Sulfur keeps the skin soft and young looking. Good examples of sulfur containing foods are garlic, onions and green leafy vegetables. Also, garlic and onions are excellent scavengers in the body keeping damage from radical substances to a minimum.
And in addition to the above, it is important to keep the skin and body well hydrated. The daily requirement of water is a minimum of eight to ten 8 oz glasses, and this should be increased during summer months and during a fever when water is lost through perspiration. Along with drinking water, stay away from alcohol and caffeine as these substances have diuretic qualities and further dry out the skin. Adherence to the above rules can ensure soft and supple skin during all the months of the year.
Ilona Napravnik, CNP