I believe that low-fat living is really the pits for our skin and aging. Here’s why:
- When fat comes out of foods, sugar is used to replace flavor and moisture. Sugar, especially fructose, creates Advanced Glycation End Products, a factor in aging. It stops collagen from doing its thing.
- Essential fats protect against UV sun damage. Omega-3 modulates the UVR-induced inflammatory response in the skin.
- We all know smoking is terrible for your skin, but so is pollution. Fatty acids FORTIFY THE PERIMETER so toxins and pollutants are kept out.
Are you thinking, “That’s nice, but I avoid sugar, don’t get enough sun, don’t smoke, and live in a pristine place?” (Hey—you must be a Vancouverite!) Seriously though, that does not mean that you are exempt from my argument.
Health freaks need fats too. Why?
- Key nutrients for glowing skin—vitamins A and E, carotenoids—are better absorbed with fat. Studies show quantity matters.
And it isn’t all about looks.
The skin’s primary biological functions are acting as a protective barrier, playing an active role in our immunity, gathering sensory info from the environment, and regulating body temperature. Wow!
For all of these reasons, let’s take a moment to appreciate our skin!
Skin is active—it responds to cues from our lover or the weather—and kindly starts sweating as soon as we hit the tropics for our deserved mid-winter vacation.
Our skin changes based on the sun, the bacteria in our gut, the food and water we ingest, and aging.
During epidermal aging:
- ridges between skin layers flatten
- sebaceous glands produce less sebum
- sweat glands become fewer
- fewer nutrients get to the skin
- women going through menopause have a huge drop in collagen production
- post-menopausal women no longer make the fatty acid GLA
- skin, hair, and nails can become weak, dry, fragile, and less resilient
Luckily, boosting the amount of water and fat in the skin is possible though. It is proven that the fatty acid composition of the skin can be significantly modified by the diet.
And this is why it is important to eat fat. The right fats.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are crucial:
- for soft, smooth, velvety, healthy skin, connective tissue, and hair.
- for anti-inflammatory and moisture-enhancing properties to reduce dryness, flakiness, and irritability as well as impact psoriasis, acne, and eczema.
- to reduce the effects of aging skin.
Lipid metabolism in the skin:
As we know, EFAs are called essential because they’re needed for basic body functions just like essential vitamins or minerals, and EFAs must be obtained from diet.
- The ones that are essential for the body as a whole are called LA and ALA.
- The skin, unlike the liver, lacks the enzymes that convert these to other ones (like GLA and DHA).
- That is why, for the skin, LA, ALA, as well as GLA, AA, EPA, and DHA fats are all considered essential nutrients.
When we do not get all of these, especially GLA, atopic dermatitis eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, increased transepidermal water loss, and impaired barrier function are more common.
- Because the skin does have some enzymes, it converts GLA to DGLA, which fights inflammation.
- GLA has been effective in reducing the symptoms of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne as well as reducing redness and erythema due to UV radiation and improving healing of wounds.
So avoid smoking, pollution, sugar, and excess sun, and eat nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods. And do yourself a favor and include lots of healthy fat at meals too.
As Dr. Udo Erasmus explained in a great article from 2015, dry skin reliably indicates a lack of essential fats, which go to vital organs first to ensure survival. Skin gets them last!
So you need to get enough.
Our skin. It’s the package we are all wrapped up in, our largest organ. Let’s feed it some fats!
All the skin essentials – LA, ALA, GLA, AA, EPA, and DHA are in Flora’s 7 Sources Oil. (US)
GLA is available in concentrated form in Efamol® Evening Primrose oil. (CA)
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