June 2017.

I suffer from dry skin during the winter months. Is there anything I can change in my diet to help?

2 answers

Drink lots of water. In the colder months the furnace and forced air tend to dry out our skin and the environment indoors. Not to mention when outside the wind and cold seem to dry us out too. I'm no scientist so I may be off and it's actually other factors that are to blame. A well hydrated body is a great first line of defense.

We need a variety of vitamins and minerals to keep skin healthy, so eating foods rich in these will help prevent dry, flaky, or itchy skin.

Vitamin A is needed for the health of skin tissues: deficiency leads to under-production of a substance that coats and protects the skin, and an over-production of keratin, which makes the skin tissue membranes hard and dry. Include spinach, peppers, mango and dried apricots in your diet.

Vitamin C is vital in the production of collagen, which provides structural support and maintains the resilience and shape of the skin, as well as helping blemishes and wounds to heal properly. Rich sources of vitamin C include kiwi fruit, peppers, blueberries, strawberries and oranges.

B complex vitamins are essential for skin integrity, and deficiency in these vitamins may lead to skin conditions such as dermatitis and dry, flaky skin. B vitamins are widely found in an array of fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, eggs, meat and fish.

Zinc is involved in the repair of skin tissue as well as the functioning of sebaceous glands which produce the skin’s protective oils, and is found in fish and shellfish, meat, poultry and wholegrains.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids, found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, play an important role in skin health. The oils ensure easy passage of nutrients into cells, they promote wound healing by increasing collagen production, and they provide protection against sun damage. They are also anti-inflammatory agents in the body: inflammation is a major cause of poor skin health and is involved in skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Water is essential for the general hydration of skin cells and for the production of sweat (which excretes toxins and cools the skin). Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, along with herb or fruit teas for a glowing complexion. And finally, skin tissue is formed from protein, so make sure you eat lean meat, fish and plenty of plant proteins, such as beans, lentils and oats.