The older I get, the more interested I become in preventive health.
My grandparents warned me that a lifetime is a short experience and that you have to look after yourself to make the most of it.
This time of year is filled with exhilaration, and getting outdoors is such a treat after the long, cool and windy winter and spring that we have been dealt this year.
I have heard many say that their skin is suffering because of our elements, but if we were practising preventive health, our skin would feel soft and supple rather than dry and flaky.
If big smiles bring on a pulling sensation across the face and hands are so dry that back rubs turn into an exfoliation process rather than a massage, it’s time for hydration.
Our skin is our largest organ and should be well maintained because it is our body’s barrier to the outside world.
A skin smart diet is a great place to start. Food and drink can get us energized and glowing again, while the nutrients that are delivered will provide protection from the elements, including sun and wind.
Water: Mentioning the importance of drinking water might be considered repetitive, but it is always worth the reminder. We all know what plants look like without water, and humans are the same. Water plumps us up and allows our bodies to function optimally. To determine how much you require each day, divide your weight by two to get the number of ounces of water you need and then divide that by eight to get the number of cups. Source: Kraft Canada.
Green tea: Studies show that sipping four cups of polyphenal-rich green tea, hot or cold, can reduce the effects of the elements by up to 25 percent. Try green tea ginger ale, or add brewed tea to your smoothies if straight up is not your thing.
Vitamin C rich berries: Fresh berries are abundant when the weather gets warmer, but make sure to make your choices benefit your health to the fullest.
Deep coloured blueberries are a top pick because they protect us from free radicals and inflammation, both of which speed up the aging process and make us more prone to disease. They are noted for their assistance in protecting against sun damage and supporting eye health, and we can’t afford not to eat them.
Throw back a fresh handful when you need fuel, or enjoy a few frozen berries on your tongue when you need cooling.
Strawberries and raspberries also pack a vitamin C punch.
Any fresh produce that is brightly coloured with red, orange, yellow, green or pink, including tomato fruit, lemons and vegetables such as spinach and kale, will be full of carotenoids, which block damage to our cells, help our health and produce a smooth soft complexion.
An apple a day: Eating a fibre-rich apple will deliver the antioxidant quercetin, which is noted for its ability to ward off skin, prostate, lung and breast cancer.
Chocolate: Indulge in delectable dark chocolate to tame your junk food cravings. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help keep skin cells plump, hydrated and functioning properly. One square inch a day should do.
Get nutty: A handful of raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts is rich in omegas, selenium and vitamin E for skin repair and maintenance. If you can’t do plain, opt for lightly salted with sea salt.
Flax oil/seeds and olive oil: These choices are rich in antioxidants and add healthy essential fatty acids to your diet. As a result, eating them regularly will make your skin glow and your hair shine.
Oats : Whole grain, low glycemic oats lend vitamin E to our system as well as the mineral zinc. You can easily incorporate them into your diet by adding a handful to your morning smoothie.
Diet helps produce healthy skin from the inside, but we still must make responsible choices for the outer layer of our body.
I am guilty of having too many personal care products in my possession and admit that I am a cream, shampoo and bubble bath junkie. I am always in awe when I get to the back of my vanity and discover that I use only a few of the products that I am storing.
Research shows that the chemicals we put on our skin are absorbed into our bodies, which means it is time to do better. This includes becoming aware of ingredients that pose risk and using sunscreen to protect skin while outdoors for extended periods of time.
Here is an updated list of some of the ingredients that should be avoided or at least used with caution:
- BHA and BHT
- DEA, MEA and TEA
- formaldehyde releasing preservatives such as dibutyl phthalate, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and methenamine
- palm oil
- petrolatum/paraffin/mineral oil
- sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl sulfate
- oxybenzone and octinoxate
As well, check labels to prevent health problems in humans and wildlife and fish, such as production waste contamination in the environment.
For more information, visit ecoholic.ca and ewg.org.
The Environmental Working Group, which researches sunscreen safety, has concluded that sun blocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered to be this year’s best choice for health and protection. They reflect light off the skin.
The companies Badger and Green Beaver earned approval in tests and are available at local drug and health food stores.
Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30 by Devita, available at amazon.ca or a local health food store, is my personal favourite.
Here is a recipe for making your own moisturizing cream. I am hooked on this concoction, and its only downfall is that it is so fresh that it has to be stored in the refrigerator. .
Skin Smart Smoothie Recipe
This blended mix includes many of the nutrient rich ingredients.
- 1/2 c. water 125 mL
- 1/2 c. brewed and cooled green tea 125 mL
- 1 /2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries 125 mL
- 1 / 2 c. frozen or fresh strawberries or raspberries 125 mL
- 2 tbsp. walnuts or almonds 30 mL
- 1 / 4 c. oats 60 mL
- handful of fresh kale or spinach
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive 15 mL
- oil or flax (in oil or seed form)
- squeeze of fresh lemon
Add an additional splash of water if the mixture is too thick.
Note: if you are using fresh fruits add in a few ice cubes to chunk up the mix. Place the ingredients in a blender. Cover, blend until smooth.
Rosemary’s Famous Face Cream
Group I ingredients
- 3/4 c. grape seed oil 175 mL
- other natural oils such as avocado, apricot and almond oil can be used, but grape seed oil is the lightest and least oily and therefore the best suited for most teenagers’ skin.
- 1/3 c. coconut oil and or cocoa butter 80 mL
- 1 tsp. grated beeswax 5 mL
Melt the beeswax over very low heat, stir in the other oils and mix well.
Pour into a blender and let sit on the counter overnight to let it come completely to room temperature. – Source: Herbal Healing for Women
Group II ingredients
- 2/3 c. distilled water 160 mL
- 1/3 c. aloe vera gel (pure with no alcohol) 80 mL
- 1-2 drops essential oils for scent (optional, such as rose, jasmine, lemon, lavender)
Blend Group II ingredients in a glass mixing bowl or measuring bowl and then turn on the blender and slowly drizzle the Group II ingredients as the blender mixes the Group I ingredients.
The end result will be a creamy, white, rich looking cream.
Store in a glass jar in the fridge.
Here are some top picks for those who want to buy a moisture balm or lotion:
- Live Clean (fragrance free) body lotion
- Skinfix Healing Foot & Leg Balm
- Skinfix Body Repair Balm
The last step for sun protection and skin health is to find shade under sprawling branches when the sun is peaking between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.