We are entering the cold depths of winter and as the last leaves fall off the trees our skin can resemble what has fallen on the ground.
Cold weather with biting winds and the added dimension of central heating can contribute to dry, tired looking skin. Nourishing your skin from inside and out will help it look and feel radiant, glowing and youthful.
At this time of year we are tempted to eat more sweet, comforting foods – it’s cold outside and cakes and chocolate are too tempting to take away the woes of winter. At the same time it’s the party season, the season of excess, Christmas party nights start earlier and finish later. Then we have Christmas and New Year, more eating, more booze and less sleep. All these factors can play havoc with our skin. So what can you do to give it the extra support it needs at this time of year:
Eat lots of colourful foods. I know I keep saying it… eat a rainbow but it is true. Why? They are rich in antioxidants. The skin is at most risk of damage from the elements, cold freezing air and biting winds and dry homes. Antioxidants are helpful in limiting the damage. They come in and soak up any damaging substances reinvigorating the skin.
What to eat?
Include beetroot, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, red onions, leeks, green vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and winter greens into your diet. Fruits that are in season are apples, pears, oranges, clementine’s, plums, Sharon fruit and pomegranates. A very recent study found pomegranates might protect muscles as we age, so an added benefit. Add fruit to your breakfast. Stew apples and have as a comforting desert with some plain natural yoghurt. Pomegranate seeds can sweeten up salads and even add to vegetables, sautéed spinach is lovely topped with pomegranates. Make mocktails – cranberries are popular just now, blend in a blender with some apple juice and ginger for Christmas mocktail – or add some to your glass of Prosecco or Champagne.
Spices are useful for adding colour – add cinnamon, turmeric and ground ginger to your porridge or soak chia seeds in some milk and the contents of a chai teabag overnight. Use turmeric, cumin, ground coriander in your cooking – they don’t always need to be used in curries. Turmeric and smoked paprika are delicious sprinkled over vegetables before roasting. Use herbs as well, rosemary on your roast potatoes. Rosemary contains antioxidants that may protect the skin from damage it also has been found to stimulate hair growth!
Vitamin E is essential
Avocados are a great skin food as they are a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E. Vitamin E one of the better-known antioxidants. It is involved in protecting cells from damage and also protects fats in the body from being damaged as well. I believe stocks are running low of avocado as its popularity has grown so much so other good sources of Vitamin E are: olive oil, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, wholegrain such as brown rice, eggs, liver and herbs such as alfalfa and rosehips. Rosehip tea can be a useful addition.
Healthy fats for healthy skin
Your skin cells are surrounded by a cell membrane and this is made of two layers of fat called a phospholipid bilayer. You need fats from your diet to keep these layers healthy. Omega 3 is one of the fats that make up the layers. The best sources of omega 3 are in oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Blitzing up some tinned pacific salmon in a blender with some olive oil and a teaspoon of tomato paste can make a delicious pate for lunch; serve with a salad and or oatcakes.
If you are not a fan of fish you can in a roundabout way get omega 3 from flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. However the roundabout way is not always easy for some as your body has a bit of work to do to make the omega 3 fat and not everyone can do this. They are still good sources of fat to eat however. Include ground seeds on your breakfast porridge daily or sprinkle over soups and vegetables. Grass fed beef also has a good quantity of omega 3 fats, as do omega 3 eggs.
Biotin a member of the B vitamin family, known as the beauty vitamin is also a key skin nutrient. It assists the body in breaking down fats and carbohydrates. As fats are so important in skin health this vitamin is vital. Signs of deficiency are: dry, inflamed and pale skin. You can find it in eggs, butter, oats, beans and whole-grains.
C for collagen
Increase your vitamin C through food. Vitamin C is involved in making collagen. Collagen is the key component for skin structure. Parsley is an excellent source; try making a pesto with this herb.
Eating protein is essential for growth and maintenance of all cells and as skin is continually renewing itself, protein is essential. It also contains essential amino acids that help make collagen. Good quality sources of protein are: fish, grass fed meat, organic chicken, turkey and eggs. Vegetarian sources are beans, pulses, lentils, peas, broccoli, nuts and seeds.
Making a broth from bones to increase protein and you hydrate your self at the same time. Freezing the broth into small containers means you can add to your cooking on a daily basis.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Finally hydrating yourself to keep skin moist and radiant is important– drink water, herbal teas, soups, smoothies, and juices and eat your fluid through increasing fruits and vegetables.