Much of that flaking, itchy skin most of us suffer from in the winter results from the drying effect of furnaces and radiators indoors, coupled with the drop in humidity and the extra wind you encounter when you step outside.
Along with applying moisturizing products to your face, hands and body, adjusting what you eat can also help your skin bounce back. Here are some great additions to your diet that add the nutrients your skin needs to fight those flakes.
Healthy fats nourish the natural lipid barrier on your skin that “binds” water to it, creating a natural moisturizing effect. Deficiencies in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are associated with dry, scaly skin, along the type of inflammation that causes itching and rashes.
Many fish varieties, especially tuna and salmon, are high in Omega 3s, which helps bind in moisture. Have poached salmon once or twice a week, and bring tuna sandwiches to work.
Some plant-based foods are also rich sources of Omega 3. Walnuts are high in this crucial fatty acid, as are flax seeds. In addition, drizzling your salads and vegetables with olive oil will glean extra helpings of Omega 3 for your skin. And look for foods which have been supplemented with Omega 3, including eggs and butter spreads.
Omega 6 foods have cell-building and reparative properties. It’s found in many processed foods — so ironically, if you’re eating healthier, you may be missing out on the nutrient. Seeds are a good source for adding extra Omega 6, particularly sunflower seeds and sunflower seed oil.
Eating plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits is a sure way to add skin-nourishing vitamins to your diet. Vitamin A, for example, helps cells repair themselves, and boosts that all-important skin barrier. Foods high in Vitamin A include bright orange and dark green produce. Sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, kale, and spinach are all good choices. In addition, consider boosting your egg intake. (A veggie quiche can pack quite a Vitamin A punch!)
Vitamin C is also important for skin repair during the harsh winter months. Whole citrus fruits, along with orange and grapefruit juice, deliver plenty of “C.” Fresh tomatoes, tomato juice and sweet peppers are also rich in Vitamin C.