It is the body’s largest organ and is our first line of defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease. It is also good barometer of overall health. When it appears healthy and vibrant, the rest of the body probably is too. We’re talking, of course, about the skin. Perhaps the most common problem concerning the skin, especially in winter, is excessive dryness. But there are many simple ways to combat this uncomfortable and unappealing problem.
From a dietary perspective, the best way to combat dry skin is to make sure that you’re eating plenty of fat. Proper amounts of fat in the diet help keep the skin’s lipid bilayer robust and healthy, which combats evaporation and locks moisture into the skin. The best kinds of fats to be eating in order to do this are (of course) omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are the kind you should already be eating a lot of because they literally help with everything from dry skin to depression to heart disease and everything in between. Omega-3’s are found in the highest concentrations in fish oils, but are also present in other healthy non-animal fats like flax seeds, chia seeds, and nuts.
Another way to avoid dry skin is to avoid water (ironically), especially hot water. The more times you wet and dry the skin, the more skin oils you remove and the dryer your skin will be. Hot showers, baths, and hot tubs all predispose you to dry skin. Being that it’s winter, it is very difficult to advise against a nice, relaxing hot shower or soak in the hot tub, but at least be conscious of the time you spend in either. Hot water depletes skin oils very quickly, so if you must take a hot shower, don’t spend an hour in there singing every song you know. Keep it to two or three songs and do your skin (and anyone listening?) a favor.
While bathing in hot water can be harmful to your skin, it is helpful to drink lots of water (don’t be one of the vast majority of Americans who are chronically under-hydrated). Also try and limit and/or avoid things like caffeine and alcohol that dry out your skin. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, so they remove water and moisture from the body, and one of the places where that water is lost from is the skin. Now, being that it’s the holidays, caffeine and alcohol are both almost assuredly on the menu on a consistent basis. But if you are trying to combat dry skin, be aware that both these substances can cause dry skin and be extra sure you’re drinking enough water and eating enough healthy fats.
One last way to combat dry skin is to try and avoid dry air. Another reason why dry skin is particularly common in winter is because in winter, the air is often not only dry, but cold. So what do we do? Start a fire in the fireplace or turn on the heater. What do these things do? Dry out the air even more. So if you are using a fireplace to heat your home, try putting a pot of water on your fireplace and let it boil and evaporate into the air. If you are using a heater, try simply putting a pot of water on the stove, bring it to a slow boil and let that humidify the surrounding air. Either way, be conscious of the fact that any time you are heating your home, you are also drying out the air and this will only lead to dry skin or worsen already dry skin.
So those are some of the major ways you can combat dry skin during these long, harsh, and dry winter months. Dry skin can be annoying, painful, unappealing, and downright unhealthy. If your skin is dry, you can be reasonably certain the rest of your body is devoid of moisture as well. Simple tips like avoiding long and hot showers and eating ample amounts of omega-3 containing healthy fats can go a long way toward giving you healthier and more vibrant skin (and hair too, by the way). The skin is the body’s largest organ, and keeping it healthy will also keep the rest of your body healthy. Beauty may be only skin deep, but it turns out that good health also starts at the skin. The skin can tell a lot about the health of the entire body, so always pay attention to your coat and if dryness is becoming a consistent problem, then try some of tips mentioned here. Happy hydrating.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube
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