2010-01-29 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Alphabet Soup for the Skin
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES Dry, cracking skin is often a complaint I hear during the winter months. The skin dries out from the heat in the house and the dehydration it causes. People tend to drink less in the cold weather than they do in the hot summer months. Physical activity declines in bad weather and so circulation to the skin is compromised.

Paying close attention to the foods we eat will enhance the vitamins that nourish the skin. A good way to remember what to eat is to call to mind the alphabet.

A is for avocado. They contain the best kind of fats that add emollients to the skin. They also help to block absorption of the “bad” cholesterol and aid in eyesight by their high lutein content. A is also for sweet potatoes and yams. The beta carotein and the phytonutrients are the boon in this root vegetable. A is for allium, that botanical family that includes onions, garlic, shallots and leeks. These have antibiotic-like properties and may reduce facial outbreaks of pimples.

B is for beets. They are also rich in beta-carotene and high in phytonutrients that protect the skin against oxidative stress. B is for blueberries. The high levels of antioxidants combat damage from inflammation. Choose fruits with the deep pigment like blueberries to get the anthocyanins, natural plant compounds, that offer this protection.

C is for vitamin C, the vitamin that enhances the skin cells’ ability to fight free radicals, the primary cause of skin damage. Vitamin C also is known to repair oxidative damage in the skin. Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables sporting the colors of the rainbow all contain vitamin C. To boost immunity and insure an adequate amount of vitamin C, I advocate adding 1,000 mg. per day to your diet as a tablet or powder to your drink. C is also for cinnamon, a spice with the highest antioxidant level of all the herbs. Add a teaspoon to your cappuccino, chai tea or hot water with lemon and your day’s needs will be satisfied.

D is for vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. We all realize that we get less of the beneficial effects of sunlight during the winter months. Vitamin D3 is the one you want to add to your diet. I prefer that you take this as a supplement. 1,000-2,000 IU’s per day are recommended. At your next blood test, ask for 25(OH), the test for vitamin D3. You can calculate exactly how much you need from the test results.

E is for vitamin E. Another rich source of antioxidants and rich in emollients for the skin. Eggs, nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E. A handful of walnuts will also help to reduce cholesterol. The alpha-linoleic omega 3 fatty acids do much to lower inflammation, a primary cause of skin problems.

Skipping to O, omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, wild caught not farm raised, and especially king salmon, coho and sockeye contain more omega fatty acids than most other seafood. Mercury toxicity is low as well in wild caught salmon. Sardines and mackerel top my list of fish high in omega 3’s.

S is for smile. A happy face is a healthy face. The act of smiling increases production of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones. When you smile, people smile back. Spread the wealth!

W is for water. Water, water everywhere, as my kids would say. Hydration is key to moisturizing the skin. 6- 8 glasses per day of pure water is my recommendation.

Z is for zzzzz’s. Sleep, rest and refreshment are essential to healthy, radiant skin. This element is one that you cannot buy in a supplement or eat for dinner. Taking time to be conscious of your lifestyle and making the choice to rest and refresh yourself is your gift to yourself.

We have a few more months of winter, not many, so take the time to sing the alphabet to remind yourself to feed your skin with all that it needs to radiate health and your inner beauty.

May The Blessings Be!

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