Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


3 Comments

The Best Foods for Healthy Skin

Research on the best foods for healthy skin is limited. Still, antioxidant-rich foods seem to have a protective effect for the skin.

Consider these skin-friendly foods:

  • Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Blueberries
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
  • Nuts
Carrots

On the flip side, some foods seem to be associated with skin damage. For example, some research suggests that a diet high in processed or refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats promotes skin aging.

Remember, many of the best foods for healthy skin also promote good health overall. Rather than focusing on specific foods for healthy skin, concentrate on a healthy diet in general. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Include nuts, seeds and beans in your favorite meals. Opt for whole-grain breads and pasta. Limit sweets. Strive for variety as you’re making healthy choices.

Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.       Dec. 18, 2014

References

  • Draelos ZD. Eating for a lifetime of healthy skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2011;10:1.
  • Cosgrove MC, et al. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;86:1225.
  • Borek C. Aging and antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables are powerful armor. Advances for Nurse Practitioners. 2006;14:35.
  • Bae J, et al. Bog blueberry anthocyanins alleviate photoaging in ultraviolet-B irradiation-induced human dermal fibroblasts. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research. 2009;53:726.
  • How to create an anti-aging skin care plan. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/health-and-beauty/every-stage-of-life/adult-skin/how-to-create-an-anti-aging-skin-care-plan. Accessed Oct. 17, 2014


1 Comment

What Are AGEs?

AGEs are toxic compounds. Their full name is Advanced Glycation Endproducts, and they form naturally in small amounts in our body. Until recently, scientists thought AGEs were just normal byproducts of our metabolic system linked to sugar.


New studies show that AGEs are present in large quantities in most of the foods we eat today. As new modes of food processing, applied by food industries, or popular methods of cooking expose food to dry-heat to make it safe, digestible and tasty, they also help raise AGEs to levels dangerous for the body.


Why do we consume foods that contain substances known to be toxic? It’s simple. AGEs are known to bring to raw nutrients those positive attributes we associate with our favorite meals. AGEs are responsible for the taste, appearance and the smell of foods we enjoy – the grilled burger and pizza and soft drinks and fried chicken; the bacon and corn chips and cookies. AGEs are at work whenever cooked food attracts our attention, awakens our senses and encourages us to take yet another bite, even when we’re already full. How many of us would consider eating these same foods raw? But before you think of thanking AGEs for all the pleasure they have given you over the years, consider this:

More than any other single dietary component, AGEs are now found to be linked to more diseases and health problems, including diabetesheart and kidney disease, but also dementiaAlzheimer’s diseasestrokearthritis,osteoporosisskin aging, poor wound healing, and periodontal disease.


Why are AGEs toxic?

1. AGEs are oxidants. They corrode our body the same way rust damages metal in a machine if it’s allowed to build up. Oxidation depletes our natural reserves of anti-oxidants, which are the “good guys”. Anti-oxidants are the substances that can neutralize the corrosive effects of AGEs, but only up to a point.
2. The body reacts to AGEs the same way it fights an infection, except that its capacity is limited. Our native defenses normally eliminate AGE toxins by mobilizing a low level of generalized inflammation, which is our body’s normal reaction to ”irritants”, such as bacteria. For example, a person with an infection – an “irritant” to the body – may experience a rise in body temperature – a “fever”, which indicates inflammation, but this will go away soon. Food AGEs, like bacteria, can also trigger inflammation but this time – since they come in often – it may not go away soon, and over time it can erode our self-defenses, as AGEs pile up in the body, like junk. And they continue to cause more oxidation (rusting) and inflammation (low “fever”), which may not become noticed for many years.

At worst, if inflammation is prolonged it will slowly damage every organ in the body – Most chronic diseases are associated with inflammation and high levels of AGEs. At best, AGEs speed up our body’s and mind’s aging

3. Animal fats are easily oxidized by AGEs.   When this happens, AGE-lipids from our food tend to stick to our arteries and cause blockage, high blood pressure or heart trouble. Or they settle in our waistline as AGE-fat, causing inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin, a vital hormone, becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar and its levels become abnormally high. Excessive body weight is closely associated with this condition, frequently leading to diabetes.
4. AGEs also can cause proteins to stick together. With years, AGE-proteins become rigid. This is one reason why joints, muscles and tendons become stiff and inflexible over time. This is why blood vessels become thick and inelastic, a condition we call “hardening of the arteries”, which leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.


Leave a comment

Foods that can fix your health problems

By Sarah Richards, Health.com     Fri August 30, 2013

A regular breakfast of 100% whole grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk is great. for maintaining mood balance.

(CNN) – Can’t sleep? Got the PMS blues? Before you open your medicine cabinet, step into your kitchen.

“Real, whole, fresh food is the most powerful drug on the planet,” says the author of “The Blood Sugar Solution” cookbook, Dr. Mark Hyman. “It regulates every biological function of your body.” In fact, recent research suggests not only what to eat but when to eat it for maximum benefit. Check out the latest smart food fixes.

Problem: I’m bloated

Food fix #1: Dig in to juicy fruits and vegetables

When you’re feeling puffy, you may not want to chow down on watery produce, but consuming foods like melon, cucumber and celery is an excellent way to flush out your system, says the author of the book “Food & Mood,” dietician Elizabeth Somer.
5 foods you should never eat

“We need sodium to survive,” she explains, “but because we often eat too much of it, our bodies retain water to dilute the blood down to a sodium concentration it can handle. Eating produce with high water content helps the dilution process, so your body can excrete excess sodium and water.”

Food fix #2: Load up on enzymes

Bloating can also be a sign that your intestines are out of whack. “If you’re irregular or experience gas right after eating, papaya can help,” explains the author of the book “Food as Medicine,” Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa. “Eating 1 cup several times a week helps rejuvenate the gastrointestinal system, thanks to papaya’s digestive enzyme papain, which breaks down protein.”

The fiber also helps push food through your intestines, improving regularity. Try a smoothie with papaya, pineapple (it also contains digestive enzymes), protein powder, ice and almond milk.

Problem: I’m on an emotional roller coaster

Food fix #1: Say yes to breakfast

“People who eat within an hour or two of waking up have a more even mood throughout the rest of the day and perform better at work,” Somer says. British researchers found that study participants who skipped their morning meal did worse on memory tests and were more tired by midday than those who had eaten.

The optimal breakfast includes a whole grain to supply glucose for your brain to run on, protein to satisfy hunger and keep your blood sugar levels steady and one or two antioxidant-rich fruits or vegetables. Somer’s suggestion: a 100% whole-grain cereal that contains at least 4 grams of fiber and no more than 5 grams of sugar, eaten with fruit and low-fat milk.

Food fix #2: Stock up on selenium

A lesser-known trace mineral, selenium – found in Brazil nuts, tuna, eggs and turkey – helps keep you on an even keel. Women whose diets are deficient in the mineral are more prone to feeling depressed.

Why? Selenium is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones, which govern metabolism and mood. You don’t need much, though: The recommended daily allowance for selenium is 55 micrograms, and you can get that amount by eating one 3-ounce can of tuna.

Problem: My skin is acting up

The food fix: Eat your onions

Battling breakouts? The antioxidants in onions and other sulfur-rich veggies tamp down the inflammation that leads to acne, says Dr. Valori Treloar, a dermatologist in Newton, Massachusetts, and co-author of the book “The Clear Skin Diet.” The sulfur in onions, leeks and scallions helps produce a detoxifying molecule called glutathione, which a 2011 study found to be lower in the skin of people who were prone to breakouts.

This antioxidant is most potent when eaten in raw or lightly cooked foods. Try adding chopped scallions to your salad or stirring diced onions into your salsa or stir-fry. Taking folate and vitamin B6 and B12 supplements may also boost glutathione levels.


Problem: I get crazy-bad jet lag

The food fix: Don’t snack on the plane

It’s no fun spending the first days of your vacation trying to acclimate. One surprising secret to avoiding the headaches, irritability and upset stomach of jet lag is to fast for several hours before arriving at your destination. That’s because when you eat influences your circadian rhythms, in much the same way that exposure to light and dark does.

Let’s say you’re headed to France. On the plane, steer clear of most food (but drink plenty of water), set your watch to Paris time and eat a high-protein breakfast at 7 a.m., no matter where you are on your trip.

“The fast depletes your body’s energy stores, so when you eat protein the next morning, you get an extra kick and help your body produce waking-up chemicals,” explains Dave Baurac, spokesperson for the Argonne National Laboratory, a research institute based in Illinois.

Problem: I’m tossing and turning

Food fix #1: Have a late-night morsel

We’ve all been told to avoid eating too close to bedtime, but applying this rule too strictly could actually contribute to sleep woes. As anyone who has tried a fast knows, hunger can make you feel edgy, and animal studies confirm this.

“You need to be relaxed to fall asleep, and having a grumbling stomach is a distraction,” explains Kelly Glazer Baron, an instructor of neurology at Northwestern University and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “It makes it hard to get to sleep and wakes you up at night.”

The trick is to tame the munchies 30 minutes to an hour before bed with a small snack that includes complex carbohydrates. “Since you metabolize sugars more slowly at night, a complex carb like whole wheat is a better choice,” Baron says. “It keeps your blood sugar levels even.” Try cheese and whole-wheat crackers or almonds and a banana.

Food fix #2: Add cherries

You can boost your snack’s snooze power by washing it down with a glass of tart cherry juice. A recent study of folks with chronic insomnia found that those who downed 8 ounces of juice made from tart Montmorency cherries (available in most grocery stores) one to two hours before bedtime stayed asleep longer than those who drank a placebo juice.

These sour powerhouses – which you can eat fresh, dried or juiced – possess anti-inflammatory properties that may stimulate the production of cytokines, a type of immune-system molecule that helps regulate sleep. Tart cherries are also high in melatonin, a hormone that signals the body to go to sleep and stay that way.

Problem: I have wicked PMS

The food fix: Keep an eye on iron

You might be more susceptible to the monthly blahs if you have low levels of iron, according to a new study. Researchers looked at the diets of 3,000 women over 10 years and found that those who consumed more than 20 milligrams of the mineral daily had about a 40 percent lower risk of PMS than those who ingested less than 10 milligrams.

You can get almost your full daily dose by eating 1 cup of an iron-fortified cereal; other great sources include white beans (4 milligrams per one-half cup) and sautéed fresh spinach (3 milligrams per one-half cup).

The beta-carotene found in carrots is one of the most potent carotenoids and protects your skin from the sun.

Problem: I’m so sensitive to the sun

The food fix: Pile on protective produce

While you still need the usual sun protection (SPF 30 sunscreen as well as a wide-brimmed hat), you may be able to bolster your skin’s own resistance to UV rays with what you eat. The details: Micronutrients called carotenoids in fruits and vegetables protect the skin against sunburn, recent science shows.

“Most topical sunscreens work by filtering out the UV component from the solar light that reaches the skin,” explains researcher Wilhelm Stahl, a professor of biochemistry at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. “But these micronutrients, if you have enough in your system, actually absorb UV light and prevent damage.”

The most potent carotenoids are the beta-carotene found in carrots, endive and spinach – and the lycopene in watermelon and tomatoes. Keep in mind that the effect isn’t instantaneous; you would need to eat a carotenoid-rich diet for at least 10 to 12 weeks in order to get the full benefit, says Stahl. Still, there is a reward for your patience: skin fortified to fend off sun damage and wrinkles.


Leave a comment

Giant weed that burns and blinds spreads across Canada

Drew Halfnight   10/07/13 

A huge, toxic plant that can burn skin and cause permanent blindness has been found for the first time in eastern Ontario, prompting calls for a federal response to contain the spread of the poisonous plant as fear grows no province is immune.

A forestry official confirmed two new findings of giant hogweed last week in Renfrew County, west of Ottawa. It has previously been spotted in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec, southwestern Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. About 50 plants were spotted in Toronto’s Don Valley two weeks ago.

Contact with the weed’s clear, watery sap can be very dangerous, Jeff Muzzi, Renfrew County’s forestry manager and weed inspector.

“What it does to you is pretty ugly,” said Mr. Muzzi. “It causes blisters. Large blisters and permanent scarring. What’s left over looks like a scar from a chemical burn or fire.”

Even a tiny trace of sap applied to the eye can singe the cornea, causing temporary or permanent blindness, he added. The chemicals in the sap, furocoumarins, are carcinogenic and teratogenic, meaning they can cause cancer and birth defects.

Most provinces have not authorized official weed inspectors to destroy the poisonous plant because it does not impinge on agriculture.

Mr. Muzzi said he only began eradicating the plant because nobody else would. “It’s not really my job,” he said. “I just thought, somebody better take the bull by the horns here, ’cause this stuff is really dangerous.”

Giant hogweed is already rampant in parts of Europe including England, where the rock group Genesis wrote a 1971 ode to the plant and its “thick dark warning odour.”

Native to the Caucasus Region and Central Asia, it was brought to Europe and North America as a botanical curiosity in the 19th and 20th centuries and has spread rapidly. It typically grows on riverbanks, ditches and roadsides.


The risk of infection was so high, Mr. Muzzi wore a Tyvek suit, protective goggles, rubber gloves, “the whole nine yards,” to remove it, he said. “Which is really nice in 35-degree weather.”

The weed’s sap, which is found all over the plant, bonds chemically with human skin when exposed to sunlight and, within 48 hours, leads to inflammation, red colouring and itching, weeping blisters and eventually black and purplish scars.

“It’s those flower heads you want to get rid of,” Mr. Muzzi said. “I went out, suited up, cut all the flowerheads off and bagged them. Then I nuked the plants with Round-Up.”

Most susceptible to infection are gardeners, campers and children, who have been known to use the plant’s large, hollow stems as play telescopes or pea-shooters.

“If a person takes a weed-whacker to this stuff, they get the sap all over,” Mr. Muzzi said.

While the weed is on the federal government’s official noxious weeds list, there is apparently no national or provincial strategy in place to stop its spread.

Guy Baillargeon, a biologist with the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, called the weed an “emerging” problem, not yet a national one.

“Very few people are aware of it right now,” he added. “I am not aware that this species is on any provincial list yet.”

Mr. Baillargeon said a federal plan is in the works to deal with invasive species in general, but not hogweed in particular.

“I believe the plant has been here long enough that it would now be difficult to eradicate it,” Mr. Baillargeon said.

“So I don’t expect that things will happen overnight. But we need to talk about it.”

A 2005 study of the plant’s spread in Canada said it was likely to continue for the next 25 to 100 years “with worsening ecological, economic and health effects.”


source: National Post


Leave a comment

"Good bacteria" during pregnancy may ward off eczema: study

Thu Oct 25, 2012 

(Reuters) – Babies were less likely to get the itchy skin rash eczema when their mothers took probiotics during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, according to a study from Finland.

Researchers said it’s possible that probiotics – which are thought to help balance bacteria populations in the gut and prevent disease-causing strains from spreading – may influence babies’ health through immune cells that cross the placenta and later are passed in breast milk.

“Prevention regimen with specific probiotics administered to the pregnant and breast-feeding mother, that is, prenatally and postnatally, is safe and effective in reducing the risk of eczema in infants with allergic mothers,” wrote lead author Samuli Rautava of Turku University Central Hospital, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

For the study, Rautava and his colleagues assigned 241 pregnant women to take one of two different probiotic combinations, given as a powder mixed with water once daily, or a bacteria-free placebo powder.

All of the mothers-to-be had a history of allergies, so their babies were at extra-high risk of eczema and other allergic reactions.

The women drank their assigned concoction for the last two months of pregnancy and their first two months of breastfeeding. Researchers then tracked their babies’ health for two years to see how many developed rashes.

By the end of the study, 71 percent of babies in the placebo group had had eczema at least once, compared to 29 percent of babies whose mother took either probiotic combination.


Chronic eczema was diagnosed in 26 percent of placebo kids, compared to 10 percent and six percent, respectively, of those in the two probiotic groups.

However, by age two there was no difference in kids’ sensitivities to a range of allergens, including milk, wheat, soy and dog and cat dander, based on whether their mothers had taken the supplements. About one quarter of the children had a positive “skin prick” test for sensitivity to an allergen.

“(The study) really shows a reduction in eczema from probiotics, which is such a simple and easy intervention for mothers,’ said Ruchi Gupta, an allergy an eczema researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But she said it was still too soon to see if that reduction in eczema will be tied to a drop in asthma and more serious allergies later on, and Rautava himself said it was still not yet possible to make recommendations for routine use of probiotics.

Rautava and his colleagues didn’t find any evidence of probiotic-related side-effects, and while there have been reports of infections attributed to probiotics in babies, giving the supplements to the mothers instead may reduce that risk.

But some researchers questioned whether the supplements sold on drugstore shelves have any real health benefits, especially including all the different strains available.

“The results look encouraging, but this is a controversial area and confirmation is needed,” said James Gem, a pediatric allergy researcher from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. 

(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

source:  bit.ly/RYnbVw      reuters


Leave a comment

7 health benefits of raw organic cashews

1. Cancer Prevention
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.

2. Heart Health
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

3. Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.

4. Bone Health
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It’s a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

5. Good for the Nerves
By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.

Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

6. Prevent Gallstones
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

7. Weight Loss
 People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered “good fat.” This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.

source: facebook.com/homesteading


Leave a comment

Prenatal Exposure to Common Household Chemical Linked to Eczema

WEDNESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) – Babies born to women who were exposed to the common household chemical butyl benzyl phthalate (BBzP) during pregnancy are at greater risk for childhood eczema, new research suggests.
BBzP is used in vinyl flooring, artificial leather and other materials, and can be released into the air, the researchers said.
“While hereditary factors, allergens and exposure to tobacco smoke are known to contribute to the condition, our study is the first to show that prenatal exposure to BBzP is a risk factor,” study author Allan Just, a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a news release from Columbia University, where the research was conducted.
Just and his colleagues from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health measured urine concentrations of BBzP during the third trimester of pregnancy for more than 400 black and Dominican women living in New York City. None of the women smoked, and all but one had evidence of at least some exposure to BBzP.
After the birth of their babies, the mothers were asked if their children had been diagnosed with eczema, a condition characterized by dry, itchy, red skin on the face, scalp, hands or feet.
The children of mothers exposed to higher concentrations of the chemical were 52 percent more likely to develop eczema by age 2.

Researchers don’t know how BBzP might trigger eczema symptoms. To determine if allergies played a role, they tested the children for three common indoor allergens: cockroaches, dust mites and mice. The children also were tested for a specific immune response to the allergens.

The researchers noted that they found no link between BBzP exposure and allergies.
“We know allergies are a factor with some childhood eczema, but our data suggests that is not the case when BBzP is involved,” senior study author Dr. Rachel Miller, an associate professor of medicine and environmental health sciences at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, said in the news release. “However, these are important findings, given that eczema is a common and uncomfortable disease of early childhood.”
The study was published online June 26 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. Although the study found an association between prenatal exposure to BBzP and eczema, it did not prove that exposure to the chemical caused the skin condition.
– Mary Elizabeth Dallas


Leave a comment

4 Tips for Safer Sunscreen

  • June 24, 2012


By Experience Life

While recent research shows that a little sun exposure each day may benefit your health, most experts suggest that you protect yourself if you plan to spend long stretches in the sun.
The problem is, many sunscreen products contain harmful chemicals, and some are not as effective as they seem, says Sonya Lunder, MPH, a senior analyst at the Washington, D.C.–based Environmental Working Group. To help you find a good sunscreen, Lunder offers this advice:

  • Beware a “50+” SPF. According to the FDA, no reliable research has shown that sun protection factors above 50 offer significantly better protection than those with a 50 SPF value. Such super-high-SPF products can lull you into a false sense of security.
  • Look for UVA protection on the label. Almost all sunscreens are great at blocking sunburn-causing UVB rays. But for protection against the far more damaging UVA rays, which can cause malignant melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer), choose mineral-based sunscreens rather than their chemical counterparts.
  • Avoid spray or powder sunscreens with titanium dioxide. Mineral-based sunscreens often contain titanium dioxide, which is considered potentially carcinogenic if it reaches the bloodstream. Because spray and powder sunscreens are more easily inhaled (and, hence, more directly accessible to the bloodstream), opt for lotions, which are considered safer, when choosing a mineral-based option.
  • Avoid oxybenzone. Stay away from sunscreens that contain this active ingredient, which has been linked to allergic reactions and potential hormone disruption. It is particularly harmful for children and has been linked to low infant birth weight.

If you want to see how the prod­ucts you already have in your cabinet stack up, visit the EWG Sunscreen Guide.

source: care2.com


Leave a comment

Study shows 15 per cent of adults suffer from eczema

By Joanne Laucius, Postmedia News March 22, 2012

Dermatologists call it atopic dermatitis. People who suffer from itchy, flaky, irritated skin are more likely to know it as eczema.

About a quarter of Canadian children and 15 per cent of adults suffer from eczema. It shows up most often on the hands in the winter, but can also make an appearance on the arms and legs, and on the faces of children, says dermatologist Dr. Lori Shapiro.

About a quarter of Canadian children and 15 per cent of adults suffer from eczema. Photograph by: Imcsike , Fotolia.com

People who are prone to allergies and who suffer from hay fever and asthma are more likely to have eczema.

And skin that is irritated is more likely to be broken, which makes it is more permeable to bacteria.

Hand sanitizers strip the skin of its lipid barrier, as does soap and water. But she doesn’t recommend forgoing cleansers. She suggests trying a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air and applying hand cream before and after wash-ing. After a shower, pat the skin dry and apply a thin layer of moisturizer. Here are some properties to look for:

– Humectants are “water magnets” that draw water from the air to the skin.

– Occlusives create a barrier on the skin, reducing water loss. Petroleum jelly and dimethicone are a good example of an occlusive.

– Emollients replenish the lipid barrier on the skin and make the skin feel supple.


Leave a comment

Fruits, Vegetables, Honey and Your Skin

By Debra Jaliman, MD


Tired of that gray cast to your complexion? Want to improve your skin tone? The answer may lie in your local farmers’ market.

We all know that eating fruits and vegetables benefits our health. Now a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health appears to show that eating more fresh veggies and fruits can change the appearance of the skin in just a matter of weeks. British researchers found that adding two extra portions of fruits and vegetables a day for six weeks led to a golden healthy glow, a perceptible improvement seen in participants of all ethnicities.

There’s no doubt that what we eat dramatically impacts our health and appearance. The carotenoids and other flavonoids in fruits and vegetables really can make a difference in the skin. Now that spring is around the corner, it would be a good idea to go to the local greenmarket and start buying fresh produce, organic if possible. Frozen organic fruits and vegetables are an excellent alternative. Use them to make smoothies with water and honey for a quick and refreshing way of getting your daily dose of carotenoids.

Speaking of honey, researchers are increasingly studying its use in wound care. All honey has antibacterial properties, but manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia can be exceptionally healing, depending on its origin and processing. For those who have never tried it, manuka honey is dark and has a strong, distinctive taste that can take some getting used to. Antibacterial activity is measured in an index called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). The higher the UMF, the more effective the honey is supposed to be – and also the more expensive, because pure manuka honey is always pricey. I recommend a manuka honey with a UMF of 16 or higher.

High UMF manuka honey works both to prevent skin infections and to clear chronic skin infections. A recent study showed that it is effective on streptococcus, pseudomonas, and staphylococcus bacteria, even on antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. There are even manuka honey bandages on the market.

I’ve become a big fan of manuka honey. Last year I had a patient with a bad staph skin infection and open wounds all over her body. I tried everything, including the usual antibiotics, and nothing seemed to work. Finally I ordered gauze impregnated with manuka honey and had her use them every day. In two weeks, her infection had cleared up with no scarring.

So it may be worth keeping a jar of UMF 16 manuka honey in your cupboard. Like all honey, it will keep indefinitely, so what do you have to lose?

Bottom line: Fruits, vegetables, and manuka honey can all be powerful allies to your skin.

Posted by: Debra Jaliman, MD


source: webmd.com