Last week I looked at the skin on my legs and was shocked by their dryness. In fact, they were bordering on “scaly”! It’s probably no surprise that this word popped into my head, as it’s a term we as women are all too familiar with (no doubt an invention of a cosmetic marketing department who decided to shame women about the condition of their skin by likening it to a reptile’s lol).
Anyway, seeing my dry skin made me immediately realise that I needed to go back to taking flaxseed oil after trialling something different. Considering I barely use anything topical on my skin, it’s always a good gauge.
Then, believe it or not, a few days later I had a major inflammation response. You know that feeling you get when you’re coming down with the flu, aches and pains all over, especially in your joints? It’s very, very painful. To begin with I couldn’t work out what was causing this because my diet is so clean, but it soon dawned on me that this was also due to the fact that I wasn’t getting enough omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). Important: do not get essential fatty acids mixed up with essential oils. The only similarity is that word ‘essential’. In the context of EFAs like Omega 3, the essential refers to necessary for your body, something it can’t make it self. In the context of essential oils it refers to the very essence of odour and flavour of the plant.
Usually I would have an abundance for omega 3 in my diet, mainly due to the flaxseed oil which I’ve taken for decades now. But after recently changing to hemp seed oil which is also high in omega 3, I ended up throwing the omega 3 to omega 9 ratio out.
Out of these two omega families (3 and 6), omega 3 is the one we easily become deficient in. While, the ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 in our diet is 1: 1, most western diets are extremely high in omega 6 and low in omega 3. In fact, many of us consume as much as 10 to 30 times more omega 6 than omega 3 in our diets. Why? Omega 6 are in high amounts in many common vegetable cooking oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil and canola oil – but fortunately not in olive oil (so use liberally).
Also eating an avocado a day, yes full of good fats, also contributed to too much omega 6. It turns out the answer was quite simple. After checking the EFAs in flax seed and hemp seed oils, I discovered there’s TWICE as much omega 3 in flax seed oil. See listing here.
So... it wasn’t what I was eating that was causing the inflammation – it was what I wasn’t eating. I’d lost my omega 3 protection!
All this is especially relevant to me because it’s the one thing I’ve raved and raved about over the years as being the single best ingredient for great skin. The main reason being is that your skin cells are 'made' internally, so supporting this process by ingesting the right products will result in your skin looking healthy and radiant...naturally. While in the past many people believed that changing your nutrition had no effect on your skin, we now know that what you eat impacts every organ in your body. And, because your skin is your largest organ, it reflects everything that's going on inside.
So, although it may appear that products such as flaxseed oil are unrelated to your skin – they are in fact essential. Afterall, healthy body equals healthy skin.
While it would be naive to think that eating well is going to totally rejuvenate your skin or completely stop ageing, it can definitely have an impact on slowing the ageing process and increasing your skin health. Every cell in your body needs an entire list of nutrients and ingredients to ensure metabolism, many of which cannot be manufactured by the body. Which is why you need to get them from your food, in the form of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and of course EFAs (which includes the omega families).
Studies have actually shown that omega 3 is effective in lowering levels of blood fats linked to cardiovascular disease and to help keep blood from clotting. So, I guess it’s little wonder that it has such a positive effect on our skin. While dry skin is caused by a lack of sebum or oil on the surface, omega 3 is able to 'loosen' this oil and get it free flowing which also improves acne and blemishes. As most people don't get enough omega 3, the cell membrane will incorporate saturated fat into it instead, which 'hardens' the membrane making skin dry and flaky.
What are the Symptoms of an Omega 3 Deficiency?
The most common signs include dry and flaky skin, itchy skin, brittle hair and nails! Other symptoms include constipation, depression, poor concentration and joint pain. Omega 3 is found in most oily fish but the best source of omega 3 I have found for the skin is what I call the internal moisturizer...
Flaxseed Oil... Moisturizing From The Inside!
Because it contains more than 50% of the omega 3 alpha linoleic acid (ALA), taking one tablespoon of flaxseed oil every morning is the number one thing essential for healthy skin. LET ME REPEAT ... taking one tablespoon of flaxseed oil every morning is the number one thing essential for healthy skin.
So, why not start today?
BTW: the skin on my legs is now silky smooth! Not a reptile in sight!