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Preventing winter-dry skin

Posted Jun 01 2010 12:24am

Preventing Winter-Dry Skin

Some people find that although their skin is soft and supple during the warm months, when winter arrives it turns dry. Sometimes it even cracks, particularly on their lower legs. Or their scalp skin becomes dry and flaky. Its itchy and annoying There is a reason this happens, and there is a way you can improve your skin so you don't have to use gallons of moisturiser during winter.

Soft, flexible and healthy skin is due in no small part to a good supply of essential fatty acids in your diet, particularly the omega-3 oils, and a good balance of omega-3 to omega-6 oil intake.

A healthy omega-3 intake is actually measured by ratio, rather than by absolute quantities. In the stone age, when our eating was at its healthiest, our ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 intake was around 1:2. Our modern western diet provides a far less beneficial ratio, sometimes only one part omega 3 to 10 parts omega six. Dry skin is one of the unfortunate outcomes of our modern diet.

In winter many of us tend to seek out comforting, fatty foods – like pastries, meats, chocolate, more cheese, more butter – all rich sources of omega-6 oils. This can cause a big imbalance in your omega-3 intake, resulting in a relative omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, and dry skin.

Your cell membranes are actually just oil molecules floating on water molecules. The better your omega-3 status, the more flexible your cell membranes will be – and the more soft and flexible your skin cells will be too.

By the way, the condition of the skin on your heels is a good indicator of your omega-3 status. If they're dry or even cracked, there's a good chance there isn't enough omega-3 oils in your diet.

Good sources of omega-3 oils are oily fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines.

Here are some meal ideas to help you boost your omega-3 intake over winter:

-          sardines on toast (with tomato paste is particularly nice)

-          replace your butter with avocado as a spread.

-          poached salmon with roasted vegetables

-          tuna risotto (minus the cheese!)

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