Dry Skin? These Foods Can Help!
Dry warm indoor heat, cold dry outdoor air. . . . winter weather can be a challenge for your skin. The best way to protect it begins by choosing foods that support skin health. The bonus? It’s not just your skin that benefits from your efforts. The nutrients needed for a healthy glow revitalize your whole body, since every cell – right down to those cute freckles! – need the same arsenal of vitamins and minerals to stay well-tuned.
Vitamin A: This vitamin is essential for the maintenance of epithelial tissues, with skin being the largest epithelial tissue you’ve got. Skimp on this vitamin and your skin is dry, scaly, and rough. The solution? Add tons of vitamin A-rich foods to the daily diet, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, watermelon, and mangos.
B Vitamins: Poor intake of almost any B vitamin, including vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, or biotin, can cause dermatitis-like symptoms, such as dry or scaly skin, itching, or a burning sensation. Vitamins B2 and B6 also are important in maintaining the oil-producing glands (the sebaceous glands), which keep the skin moist and smooth. The solution? For vitamin B2 – Nonfat milk, asparagus, mushrooms. Niacin – Chicken, peanut butter, green peas. Vitamin B6 – Red meat, fish, bananas. Vitamin B12 – Red meat, nonfat milk, tempeh. Pantothenic acid – Vegetables, whole grains, meat. Biotin – Eggs, oatmeal, soy.
Zinc: This trace mineral helps maintain collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its firmness and help prevent sagging and wrinkles. Zinc is important in healing cuts and scrapes, while a deficiency causes dry, rough skin. Limited evidence suggests zinc also helps treat acne. The solution? Sprinkle wheat germ on cereal, eat oysters, and switch to whole grains.
Omega-3s: A high-fat diet increases your risk for skin cancer, while cutting back on fat reduces risk. However, the omega-3 fats are exceptions; they lower skin cancer risk and help to keep skin moist and smooth. The solution? Eat salmon twice a week or include foods fortified with an algal or vegetarian-based omega-3 DHA (it will say lifesDHA on the label).
Antioxidants: The number one enemy of skin is the sun. Don’t think you’re off the hook because it’s winter! Those UV rays can get you on the ski slopes and through cloud cover just as easy as the beach on clear days! The solution? Load the plate at every meal with antioxidant-rich foods, such as oranges, broccoli, blueberries, legumes, purple cabbage, green tea, and tomatoes.
The Caffeine Connection
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 cup blueberries
1 cup light fortified soymilk or nonfat milk
A glass of sparkling water with a twist of lemon
1 cup canned chunky vegetable soup
A turkey sandwich made with:
3 ounces turkey breast
3 large lettuce leaves
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 slices whole wheat bread
15 baby carrots
Iced green tea
1 6-ounce container of low-fat strawberry-kiwi yogurt mixed with 1 kiwi, peeled and cubed
1 4-ounce grilled salmon fillet topped with 1 tablespoon bottled pesto
1 cup oven-roasted or steamed Brussels sprouts topped with 2 teaspoon chopped pecans
1 /2 cup cooked instant brown rice
1 /2 cup frozen green peas, steamed
2 cups air-popped popcorn
(Nutritional Analysis for the day: 2098 Calories; 29% fat (67.6 grams); 19 gram saturated fat; 3.3 grams omega-3 fats: 21% protein; 50% carbohydrate; 46 grams fiber)