Winter Skin Care Part II
What can you do to avoid drying out like a prune? In my last post, I talked about limiting exposure to hot water during bathing, staying away from harsh soaps, and steering clear of skin products that contain high alcohol content. I also stressed the importance of regular exfoliation, and using a cream or moisturizer on damp skin as soon as you get out of the shower in order to trap moisture close to the skin. This time let’s talk about beauty from the inside out.
Foods and beverages can have a direct effect on the health and appearance of your skin. Knowing what to avoid, and conversely, what to eat can dramatically improve your looks naturally without breaking the bank.
1. Coffee. Are you a coffee drinker? While topically applied caffeine has value in cosmetics because it can minimize facial flushing and potentially decrease the appearance of rosacea, ingesting it is a different story entirely. Did you know that caffeine can rob your body of moisture (and minerals)? It is what’s known as a diuretic, which increases urine output from the body, and can lead to dehydration and – you guessed it - dry skin. Try to drink more caffeine-free fluids in the winter, including water, fruit juice, and herbal teas. Experts suggest that you drink 2 cups of water for each cup of caffeinated beverage you ingest in order to make up for the water loss induced by the caffeine.
2. Increase your intake of foods that are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These essential fats are actually good for your body! How? They strengthen cell membranes and help hold precious moisture in, which in turn plumps up your skin and helps decrease the appearance of wrinkles. Foods that are high in omega-3s include avocados, salmon, tuna, trout, flaxseed, and walnuts.
3. Foods Rich in Vitamin A are instrumental in the growth and repair of body tissues and may even help protect against sun damage. Be sure to enjoy these antioxidant-rich foods: orange and red-colored fruits and veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pumpkins, apricots, watermelon, red bell peppers and mango, as well as leafy greens, cabbage and watercress.
4. You already know that a lack of Vitamin C can cause scurvy, but did you know that it can also contribute to rough, dry skin? Vitamin C is critical in the formation of collagen, which is the main component of connective tissue. It fights free radicals (which are thought to be responsible for premature aging), and heals wounds by helping in the formation of scar tissue. The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own, and cannot store it long term, so be sure to replenish your stock of this important nutrient by eating citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach and brussel sprouts.
5. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps repair and protect the skin from free radicals. Try getting your Vitamin E naturally from foods like nuts and seeds, avocados, wheat germ, flaxseed oil, dark leafy greens (like collards, Swiss chard and spinach), and broccoli.
6. A Deficiency in Vit B-6 and Niacin can manifest in cracked, dry skin, especially around your mouth. Remedy this by adding avocado, banana, legumes, whole grains, broccoli, bok choy, green pepper, sweet potato, meat, fish and poultry to your diet.
7. Eat More Foods Containing Zinc. Zinc is helpful in repairing dry, cracked skin. It protects cell membranes, maintains collagen (which is essential in keeping skin firm and resilient), and plays an important role in skin renewal. Foods that contain zinc include oysters, beans, turkey, lean beef, nuts and seeds, reduced fat cheese, nonfat milk, low fat yogurt, lentils and peas.
8. Dr. Oz recommends Niacin for better-looking, healthy skin. Niacin is used as a treatment for a variety of skin issues, and is effective in improving circulation. Eating niacin-rich foods like eggs, poultry, fish, meat, cereals and nuts can help prevent cracked, scaly skin, canker sores and eczema - a skin condition characterized by crusty, dry, red, itchy, flaky skin.
Watching your diet and making sure you supply your body with nutrient rich foods that reduce inflammation and protect cell membranes is the fastest, and most economical way to beautiful, healthy skin! Eat up and enjoy!