We have been very lucky with the weather this winter and have not had too many bone chilling days! Not only does this cold weather dry out our hair, skin and nails leaving our hairy dull, skin parched and nails peeling, but it is also not very good for our health.
With a combination of the cold weather that sucks moisture out of our skin, constant dishwashing, hand washing and usage of the alcohol-laden hand sanitizers (flu bug anyone?), and the dry air caused by our heating systems, our body is parched and literally crying out for nourishment!
Aside from being cognizant of applying moisturizer frequently, purchasing a good humidifier, wearing gloves and drinking lots of water during these cold, frost-bitten winter months, it is equally important to watch what you are putting into your body! The foods we eat and supplements we take can literally nourish and moisturize your skin from within!
Do you have enough healthy fats in your diet?
What types of fats should I add to my diet?
Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios and macadamia nuts, seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and (my favorite) chia seeds.
Polyunsaturated fats include salmon and other fatty cold-water fish such as mackerel and swordfish (watch mercury intake, though), flax seed and flax seed oil, hemp seeds and hemp seed oil.
What are some practical ways to add fats to your diet?
- Grill vegetables such as swiss chard or Brussels sprouts in olive oil and a dash of sea salt.
- Add avocados to your salads, sandwiches, salad dressings even smoothies! Believe it or not, avocados give a delicious taste to salad dressings and a smooth consistency to smoothies.
- Sprinkle hemp seeds or walnuts (or some other nut or seed) over your salads, stir hemp seeds with berries into your yogurt, and sprinkle chia seeds over your morning cereal.
- Drizzle hemp seed or Udo’s oil over salads or pasta.
It’s not all about the fats! What else will help?
Natural, raw honey is one of the most important healing foods to have in your pantry AND medicine cabinet! Honey is rich in antioxidants, minerals, probiotics and enzymes. Not only does honey have antibacterial properties and is used to heal wounds but it is also very moisterizing! Most of us have seen how every cosmetic company under the sun is adding honey to their moisturizers, soaps, bath gels and shampoos but what many don’t know is that when we ingest honey we get the same or even a greater benefit.
Adding aloe vera to your diet- especially during the cold, dry months- is a good first step to healing and moisturizing your skin, nails and hair! Aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E, magnesium, chromium, selenium, fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, zinc, polysaccharides and sulfur!
I take a 1 oz. shot of aloe vera at night when I am on a juice fast to help my digestion and there is an immediate difference in how my skin looks and feels! This winter I am planning on adding aloe vera to my daily routine every night for extra protection! You can find aloe vera at any good health food store, but just make sure you buy the liquid one and not the gel that is used topically. Some add aloe vera into their smoothies but I find that it has a very strong taste and it is better to just down it like a wheatgrass shot, but integrate it into your diet in a way that works for you!
Drink more water! This is an easy suggestion and, in this very fortunate country, a relatively easy change to implement! Our bodies are comprised of 69% water and every organ in our body from our brain to our kidneys and liver to our skin depends on water to function. Drinking enough water not only helps us flush toxins out of our system, but is also hydrating to our skin!
I constantly have a bottle of purified water by my side and am careful to get most of my liquid consumption done towards the earlier part of the day. Don’t wait until you are “thirsty” to drink because by then you are dehydrated! Hydrating your body from within, hydrates your body from without!
Coconut water, butter and oils
A few years ago, many of you would have said…”what?” But, coconut products are becoming more and more prevalent. Drinking coconut water is one of my favorite suggestions for athletes or those who burn the candle at both ends with long workdays and/or late nights!
Not only is coconut water a low calorie “sports drink” option for restoring electrolytes and providing hydration, but it also is packed with nutrition. Coconut water contains all five essential electrolytes, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, and calcium and is an ideal drink to replenish the body’s fluids after a strenuous workout! Again, hydrated body=hydrated skin!
Coconut butter, a medium-chain fatty acid, is another favorite suggestion for tired, dry looking skin, nails and hair. Like honey, coconut butter is an anti-viral and an ingredient very commonly found in many commercial lotions, soaps, and shampoos. When ingested, coconut butter helps moisturize our cells while rejuvenating oxidative tissue damage.
I would be remiss in not saying that you need to make sure your diet is high in nutrient-rich, antioxidant-rich foods such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries and, yes, even dark chocolate. Having enough dark leafy green vegetables in your diet would constitute an article in and of itself and anyone who knows me knows what an advocate I am for juicing! If you either add a juice to your daily routine or embark upon a juice fast, you will immediately see a difference in the quality of your skin. And, healthy skin= hydrated skin.
Bottom line is to take the time to care for yourself and be thoughtful to what you are putting into your body- it can make a big difference not only to your skin but also in your quality of life!