In the northern Alberta climate I call home, all the moisture in the air seems to disappear around the second week of October. Possibly overnight, it feels that dramatic. The sudden drop in humidity coupled with the cold temperatures results in very dry, sometimes red, and irritated skin. Our hands crack, our lips feel like sandpaper, and that tiny dry patch on our cheek is suddenly the size of a walnut. Sound familiar? Read on!
We have lovely, organic skincare and nutritional solutions that you need in your corner as you face another Canadian winter, solutions that feed and soothe your skin, keeping it resilient, hydrated, and silky soft through till spring!
Our skin is truly incredible. It is simultaneously an organ of protection, metabolism, and sensation. It is sensitive enough to communicate emotion through the softest touch but resilient enough to be the only barrier between our internal organs and tissues and the outside world. The uppermost layer, the epidermis, is only about as thick as a sheet of paper, or 0.1mm! Still, we count on it to protect us for a lifetime, all while being exposed to radiation, temperature and moisture fluctuations, and all types of toxic substances and microbes that could spell disaster if they entered the body. Because it has so many roles, it can be affected by many different systemic changes and external influences. This complexity allows us to support the skin’s wintertime needs in several ways.
Let’s begin within and address the nutritional needs of your skin. What types of nutritional support are most critical during the winter months?
Essential fatty acids - omegas 3, 6, and 9 - sourced from fish, flax, or hemp, are vital for all your connective tissue, especially your skin. They are critical components of cell membranes, the intelligent physical barrier protecting every cell, allowing everything it requires entrance while keeping undesirables out. They are also essential to keep our blood vessels flexible and robust, to synthesize our hormones, and to produce new brain cells, to name a few.
In most cases, a typical North-American diet is deficient in omega 3’s, not 6’s. Dietary sources of omega-6 fatty acids most often come from vegetable or nut oils like safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, and peanut. Walnuts, hemp, and canola also contain omega-6’s as well as omega-3’s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are most abundant in oily fish, but vegetarian sources exist, like in walnut, hemp, and flax. Adding a high-quality omega-3 supplement like Opti Krill Oil will regulate the inflammatory response everywhere in your body while providing a raw ingredient you require to synthesize hormones, build cell structures, and repair wounds. Optimum Health VItamins' Synergy-3 Optimum Omega is also a great option if your diet is generally deficient in healthy essential fats, providing omega 3, 6, and 9’s in an ideal ratio.
Omega fatty acids are also a critical component of the intracellular material that, together with ceramides (waxy lipids) and cholesterol, form a sort of “mortar” around the “tiles” of your uppermost skin cells. This “mortar” protects your skin from trans-epidermal water loss, or TEWL. When the skin barrier is compromised, water passively leaves the tissues, and the skin becomes dehydrated and susceptible to infections and irritants. If your skin seems to become ultra-reactive in the wintertime, TEWL may be to blame.
Introducing a good source of dietary ceramides can assist in the healing of a compromised skin barrier. Plants contain the richest sources of ceramides, especially the bran and germ of wheat and rice. Spinach and beets contain some ceramides as well. Increasing your consumption of whole grains, dark leafy greens, and healthy fats this winter can help alleviate dry, itchy skin. A good-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, as well as additional anti-oxidant support, may also be helpful to support healthy wintertime skin.
Part II of this blog will focus on beautiful organic skincare solutions to support your wintertime skin from the outside in.