What Is Dry Skin?

The winter always seems to bring on dry skin. Technically known as xeroderma, it is the lack of moisture. It causes skin to become less smooth, soft and pliable. Some dryness occurs with aging, but the moisture-sapping effects of the elements, particularly cold air, usually cause it.

Moisture and healthy skin go hand in hand. When skin is supplied with fluids, it tends to be more pliable and plump, less prone to wrinkles and cracks. Environmental conditions such as dry air, wind and sun damage can suck moisture from skin, making it parched and rough. When you use a moisturizer, it puts fluid in the skin. If use high fluid foods in diets, hydrate the actual tissue builders.

The Importance of Hydration

People with naturally oily skin tend to suffer from dry skin less often, but it's not caused by a lack of oil. Oil is important because it helps skin hold water, but the real issue is lack of moisture. Because fluid amounts in the body depend on what you eat or drink, it's important to get plenty of water to keep your skin moist. One way is to make sure you drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. But you can also get water from foods, especially from juicy fruits like oranges, peaches and watermelon.

The Healthy-Skin Food Plan

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as nectarines and sweet potatoes have both water and beta-carotene, which converts in the body to vitamin A. This is one of the most important nutrients to fight rough, dry skin. Vitamin A helps make proteins that form skin tissue and encourages blood vessels to nourish areas of the skin that have been damaged by dryness. While dry skin is not generally a sign of an underlying illness, it can point to a deficiency of vitamin A. Other nutrients that help repair skin include vitamin C, found in citrus fruits such as oranges, as well as in strawberries and bell peppers, and vitamin E, available in wheat germ and sunflower seeds. These are the same ingredients that most skin care products have in them, C and E.

Damage Protection

Skin is especially vulnerable to the effects of harmful free radical molecules that rob skin of moisture and cause skin to age, especially when it's exposed to the drying light of the sun. One reason vitamins A and C are important is that they are antioxidants that help keep skin moist and minimize molecular damage from the elements. Keeping skin hydrated and healthy depends on getting antioxidants, water, oil and other helpful nutrients from foods such as green vegetables.

Green vegetables are your highest sources for both vitamins A and C. Spinach, oranges and mangos are also powerful antioxidants. These are two exceptionally rich sources of Zinc, which works with vitamin A to keep skin cells strong. Zinc also helps the body regulate the production of skin oils that help retain moisture. Zinc sources include wheat germ, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds (all of which also contain vitamin E) and turkey. Cold-water fish are famous for their oils, known asomega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help control itchy, scaly skin conditions such as dermatitis and fight dryness. Avocados are rich in vitamin A and vitamin E, and they also contain oils that have been used to treat a number of skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Many herbalists use avocado oil in salad dressings and rub it on skin. Other natural helpers that relieve dryness are the leaf of an aloe plant or, even better, from the Melaleuca tea tree oil products I use and recommend. For a soothing, luxurious treat, rub your hands with a little warmed olive oil, soak them 10 min., and wipe off the excess.

Did you know carrots, parsnips and lime contain chemicals known as psoralens, which can boost sun sensitivity? So go outside after eating them, to enhance their effect. Maybe that's why Grandma and Grandpa used to take a walk every day after supper?

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