Welcome to Wellness Wednesday! Right now I am in the middle of Tech week for a play so I conveniently took this wonderful article that my mom wrote for a national health magazine and condensed it down for readers. Since it is finally cold in Miami and everywhere else in the country I thought this article was appropriate for everyone.
As the long days of Summer are a faint memory it is time to think about how we can prepare our skin and protect it from the devastation of Winter’s cold effects. First and foremost, beautiful skin emanates from within. What may work for us in the summer time may not be beneficial for the skin in the winter.
“Now is the time to change the way you eat and care for your body. Fall and winter are notorious for drying us out, requiring specific products and food that create moisture and energy. Dry winter air removes the moisture from your skin; so does the long hot baths and showers we tend to indulge in during the Winter months to warm us up. Put those together and you are bound to feel like a lizard.
Here are some easy tips for hydrating your skin from the inside out.
- Watch out for any caffeinated beverages and other forms of caffeine. In Chinese dietary therapy it will actually drain the energy of the kidney and deplete the yin of the body exacerbating dry skin.
- Make sure you are drinking at least 64 oz of water a day. I recommend teas, broths and warm water to balance the coldness of the season.
- When you are finished with your bath or shower use a good lotion or oil from the bottom of this article to lock moisture into the skin.
In Chinese dietary therapy, health stems from balancing one’s internal environment with the external environment. This is important when considering diet. Select foods associated with the time of year they are harvested; eat warming foods in the fall and winter. Winter is a very yin(cold) time of year and the body needs to adjust. Soups, stews, root vegetables, baked apples and pears and cooked foods are what the body needs to maintain moisture and boost the digestive energy and kidney energy in the body. If possible, depending on your diet, try and incorporate marrow into your soups and stews by adding organic free range bones into the broth. Marrow is the root of blood and yin in Chinese Medicine and keeps the body healthy and strong during the winter season.
Winter is a time when the body consolidates its energy and regenerates itself so be sure to get enough sleep. In fact, the longer nighttime hours are nature’s way of turning our bodies inward to regenerate and rejuvenate for the spring months to come. Try and get an extra hour of sleep each night and get to bed no later than 11pm when the body’s natural regenerative properties are at their highest. By harnessing the transformative and consolidating energy of fall and winter, you can emerge more beautiful and radiant for spring and summer to come.
Organic Food may have higher nutritional value and life force. Conversely, junk food and processed foods are void of nutritional value and have potential cause for inflammation.
These are foods we can load up on in wintertime:
- Green leafy veggie that engender yin energy like kale, spinach, collards and chard
- Food that contain anti oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents such as quercetin like broccoli, cranberries s and apples.
- Fish, such as salmon and mercury free tuna, which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. This reduces inflammation and nourishes skin from the inside out.
- Antioxidant foods which help skin recover from oxidative stress: Red and black currents, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates, sesame seeds and goji berries. Goji berries, or Wolfberry, is an herb that has long been used in Chinese medicine for treatment of dry skin. Goji berries are known in TCM to nourish and restore the liver, kidneys and blood and they contain powerful anti-oxidants including vitamin C, linoleic acid, thiamine, beta-carotene, and riboflavin. Grapes contain resveratrol a super anti oxidant. These foods are also blood tonics in Chinese medicine which help boost the health of the skin.
- Spinach and Kale are anti-oxidants that contain Lutein.
- Yellow and orange root vegetables like carrots sweet potatoes pumpkins and squash are great sources of beta carotene. These foods strengthen the energy of the digestive system.
- Keep the “rainbow diet “in mind. All these fruits and veggies are well documented for their high anti oxidant value. High amount of phytochemicals from the families of carotenoids (beta carotene and lycopene), polyphenols, quercetin and catechins, as well as resveratrol and and anthocyanidins. All of these have documented healing properties and are key in anti aging, regenerative, and protective skin care.
Some supplements that I recommend year round for healthy skin and hair are borage oil, resveratrol, biotin, fish oil, multi vitamins and alpha lipoic acid. Probiotics keep digestive energy balanced and actually help boost the immune system
Rest and rejuvenation. When it’s too cold to get out and exercise, it is fine to exercise at home. A good yoga, qi gong, tai chi or meditation CD lets you practice at home and revitalize and rejuvenate the body. Don’t forget to practice good sleep hygiene and get more sleep during the winter months.
Reduce the intake of alcohol and caffeine so you don’t drain your jing or essence of the kidneys, a TCM anti aging concept. Stay hydrated to support the kidney system, the system of winter time.
Some products that I like for skin are:
Kiss My Face honey and calendula body lotion and soap. These products helped me survive the dry climate of the Arizona desert. Calendula has been widely studied for its healing and anti oxidant properties. It has demonstrated healing properties for dermatitis and radiation burns. It is so safe that it can be even used on babies. (Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, 2008)
Argan oil products. Kaeline from Europe and double organic certified. They have products for every type of skin and the oils can also be used on hair as well. Studies have been conducted specifically in the winter that have demonstrated Argan oil’s beneficial effect on regulating sebum production resulting in improved skin condition. (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2007)
Leonor Greyl’s Regenerescence Naturelle This special treatment oil is used on scalps for dandruff, dry scalp and hair. I often prescribe this oil as well topically on skin for excema, psoriasis and even dermatitis. It contains mimosa tenuflora, borage oil and rose of chili. Mimosa tenuflora has been studied for its healing properties for venous ulcers on skin, its anti microbial properties and its ability to increase fibroblastic activity in the dermis. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2009)
Sea Buckthorn oil. There are very well documented studies on the benefits of both oral or topic use of this oil that has been used for centuries in Europe and Asia. Sea buckthorn oil is an excellent agent for the process of cellular rejuvenation. Studies have demonstrated its effects from protecting skin against radiation to aiding in diabetic wound healing and resolving atopic dermatitis. (Journal of Nutrition Biochemistry , 2000) A new oral Sea Buckthorn product called Charmi Vi will be released later this month (March 2010). There is a clinical trial presently underway in Italy on the anti-aging properties of both topical and oral consumption of Sea Buckthorn. (Adriana Bonfigli Ph.D Reasearch Director) Weleda has a good range of products with Sea Buckthorn.” -Elizabeth Trattner
I hope you found these tips helpful!