As we move into the winter season, many of us are experiencing dry skin, cracking hands, and chapped lips. Have you ever thought about how dry skin might be connected to nutrition? There are in fact several nutrients that can help our skin! Here are some of our favorite remedies for keeping skin hydrated and healthy this winter.
- Sesame oil massage. Ayurveda, the ancient science of traditional Indian medicine, suggests using sesame oil to massage your skin, lubricating and keeping it moist. First, warm up enough sesame oil to cover your body. Then, liberally apply the oil to your body and massage in circular motions. Try to leave the warm oil on for at least 15 to 60 minutes, or opt to leave it on overnight. Throw on some old pajamas and give it a try!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! If you want your skin to stay hydrated, your body must be hydrated! Aim to drink 1 milliliter of water for every calorie you ingest. For example, a person eating 2,000 calories per day would aim to drink 2 liters (2,000 milliliters) of water, tea, or other water-based drink each day. Here are some ideas to keep you hydrated:
- Warm water
- Ginger tea
- Mineral water
- Lemon water (bonus: it’s alkalizing!)
- Take a mineral rich salt bath. Not only is soaking in an Epsom salt and baking soda bath a great way to relax and relieve stress, it is also backed by science as a way to increase skin hydration! A study by Proksch et al. found that bathing in a Dead Sea salt bath (5%) rich in magnesium chloride for 15 minutes significantly reduced skin redness and roughness, as well as enhanced hydration of the skin (1). One half cup each of Epsom salt and baking soda is recommended.
- Optimize your collagen intake. Collagen is a key component of the skin, and its integrity is important for hydrated, wrinkle-free skin. Studies have shown that supplementing with collagen not only helps to reduce and prevent wrinkling, but it also improves skin hydration! A 2018 study found that subjects who received a 1,000 mg dose of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks saw significant improvements in skin wrinkling, skin elasticity, and skin hydration (2). Consider adding collagen to your supplement routine! We here at Alkaline for Life® recommend 10 grams/day.
Omega-3 fats—EPA and DHA. Lotion works to hydrate skin topically because it acts as a fatty layer, which can penetrate the skin and provide hydration. Although applying fats topically can help improve skin temporarily, dietary fat intake is essential for healthy skin. Make sure you get enough of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, both through diet and/or supplementation. ALA is another fatty acid found in plant-based foods as an omega-3 source, but unfortunately, only 0.2% of plasma ALA is converted to EPA due to a rate-limiting enzyme (3). Therefore, it is advantageous to obtain omega-3 fatty acids through EPA and DHA forms found in fish oil, eggs, and supplementation.
Flaxseed oil is also a great source of omega-3 fats. A 2011 study investigated the effects of supplementation with flaxseed oil on skin hydration and skin sensitivity, finding that 12 weeks of supplementation improved smoothness and hydration of skin, while reducing skin roughness and scaling (4). This increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids also helped to decrease the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which has become much too high in the standard American diet.
- Monounsaturated and overall sufficient fat intake. A study of 716 Japanese women assessed hydration and elasticity of skin in relation to total intakes of fat, especially monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). The results showed that higher intakes of MUFAs and total fat were significantly associated with increased skin elasticity. Interestingly, this same cohort also showed an association between decreased wrinkles with higher intakes of green and yellow vegetables (5). Increase your intake of healthy fats through foods like olive oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, as well as all kinds of nuts and seeds!
Vitamin C. Recent research suggests that vitamin C provides a hydrating effect to the skin. We know that collagen plays an important role in skin hydration and integrity, and vitamin C is essential for collagen production.
Dimaki et al. studied the effects of Pinus halepensis bark extract and/or vitamin C and water on transepidermal water loss in mice. Both the Pinus extract and the vitamin C gels inhibited dehydration of the skin (6).
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables this winter will help optimize your vitamin C intake! If you’re feeling low on vitamin C, you can always supplement with our fully buffered ascorbate powder, Alkalini-C, for an antioxidant boost!
- Proksch, E.,H. P. Nissen, M. Bremgartner, and C. Urquhart. 2005. Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin. International Journal of Dermatology 44(2):151–157.
- Kim, D. U.,H.C. Chung, J. Choi, Y. Sakai, and B. Y. Lee. 2018. Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in human skin: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrients 10(7):E826.
- Pilkington, S. M.,and L. E. Rhodes. 2011. Omega-3 fatty acids and skin. Pages 97–107 in Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Strategies for Clinical and Cosmetic Practice, ed. J. Krutmann and P. Humbert. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
- Neukam, K.,S. De Spirt, W. Stahl, M. Bejot, J. M. Maurette, H. Tronnier, and U. Heinrich. 2011. Supplementation of flaxseed oil diminishes skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 24(2):67–74. DOI:10.1159/000321442.
- Nagata, C., K. Nakamura, K. Wada, S. Oba, M. Hayashi, N. Takeda, and K. Yasuda. 2010.Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women. British Journal of Nutrition 103(10):1493–1498.
- Dimaki, A.,M. Kyriazi, G. Leonis, I. Sfiniadakis, G. T. Papaioannou, E. Ioannou, V. Roussis, and M. Rallis. 2019. Diabetic skin and UV light: Protection by antioxidants. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 127:1–8.