April 16, 2020
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If you want clear skin that lasts, and I am pretty sure you do, I encourage you to look beyond just skincare. Skincare is important, there's no doubt about that, but to truly get the skin you desire you have to consider what you are eating.
Your skin is only as healthy as each cell in it.
Think on this a moment. That's a powerful statement, right? The same can be said for every organ in your body and the skin is really no different. After all, your skin is your body's largest organ.
Let's talk about the benefits of omega 3 essential fatty acids for clearer skin. The term "essential" in this case simply means that your body doesn't make these fatty acids, you have to consume them.
The benefits of omega 3's reads like a laundry list of things you definitely want in your life!
Omega 3's are shown to help:
- Clear skin
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve learning
- Mellow mood
- Lessen colitis and IBS
- Improve the health of your gums, vision and hearing
- and the list goes on....
What I want to share with you specifically is how you can use omega 3's to help improve the appearance of your skin. Fortunately, there's been a lot of good research done in this area. While there is a lot to say about this topic I'm going to break it down for you into a few simple ideas.
First, some basic science.
Omega fats are called long-chain fatty acids. The longer the chain, the healthier the oil and the greater benefit for your body and skin.
Omegas are categorized as:
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which has 22 carbon atoms and 6 double bonds.
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) which has 20 carbon atoms and 5 double bonds.
- ALA (alpha lineoic acid) which has 18 carbon atoms and 3 double bonds.
There are two ways to get omegas into your diet: plant sources and seafood sources. DHA and EPA are only found in seafood, while ALA only comes from the land. As mentioned above, the taller an omega gets (22 and 20 carbon atoms) the smarter it is and the greater the health benefits. It's clear to see that DHA and EPA (seafood sources) are the taller omegas.
This isn't to say that plant sources of omegas don't have their place in a healthy diet because they absolutely do. Flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are a few examples of plant based sources of omega 3's. These foods also have many other health and skin benefits as well, so don't hesitate to add these to your nutrition plan.
However, there is one key thing to consider if only using plant sources and that is....
Rate of Conversion
When you consume plant sources of omegas (ALA) your body must perform a series of biochemical steps in order to convert ALA into DHA or EPA so the body and brain can actually use it. The conversion rate of this process can be as low as 1%.
Some people are naturally "low converters." In other words, you may be eating plenty of plant based omegas but your body isn't able to utilize them well.
How do you know if you are a low converter or a high converter? The only way to know for sure is with a blood test and it's not exactly inexpensive.
When it comes to seafood based sources there are two that I recommend. The first is wild caught alaskan salmon. I wrote an entire post about this amazing fish and you can read that here
I recommend purchasing wild caught salmon from a trusted source such as VitalChoice.com. Vital Choice Seafood offers wild caught fish, never farmed, offering only sustainably-caught seafood. Use this link to receive free shipping on your $99 order.
FREE SHIPPING ON WILD SALMON ORDERS OVER $99+ At VitalChoice.com! Click Here!
Wild caught salmon is a superior choice for omega 3 fatty acids. This fish contains DHA and EPA as well as astaxanthin which is a powerful antioxidant. Astaxanthin is what gives wild caught salmon it's beautiful pink color.
Notice I keep saying wild caught. This is important because farmed raised salmon does not contain the same powerful antioxidants nor the same amount of quality omega 3's. In fact, farmed salmon often has pink color added to it to make it appear more like it's wild caught counterpart. Therefore, I recommend you always opt for wild caught.
What should I do if I'm vegan?
If you are vegan you can still get a "seafood" source of omegas by choosing a supplement that contains algae. This is the plant that the fish eats so it's a little bit like "cutting out the middle man." Some people who aren't vegan have found they prefer a vegan based supplement over a fish oil supplement because there is no fishy aftertaste. Personally, I have found that there is no fishy after taste if you choose a high quality fish oil supplement
. I recommend Vital Choice not only for their delicious seafood products but also for their omega 3 supplements
None the less, if you prefer a vegan option they are available. Juice Plus offers an Omega blend
that is a superior option for vegans or those preferring to steer clear of fish. You can click here
to find out more about this wonderful option.
It's not enough to consume omega 3's. You must also must limit the amount of omega 6's you consume. The same enzymes that metabolize omega-3 into nutrients for the body, are also responsible for metabolizing omega-6. A diet high in omega-6s will use all these enzymes. Then there aren't enough enzymes left to metabolize the omega-3s. Unfortunately, most diets are very high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s. The ideal ratio of omega-6s to omega 3-3s is 2:1. The standard diet is 10:1. I've even seen research that points to diets being as high as 30:1. The good news is this can be shifted.
Here are a few oils that are high in omega-6s:
- cottonseed oil
- corn oil
- safflower oil
- grapeseed oil
- soybean oil
While you may or may not be cooking with these oils in your home, these oils are often found in abundance in packaged, processed foods. Turn over almost any box of crackers, chips, cookies and you'll most likely see at least one of these oils listed in the ingredient list. They also sometimes lie in unexpected places such as jarred marinara sauce. This is why I encourage you to always read the ingredient list. The nutrition label has important information as well, but you can often learn more by reading what is actually in a food product.
Also important to remember is that anytime you are eating in a restaurant you are probably consuming these oils which are higher in omega-6s.
The are two main reasons why these oils are so commonly used:
So now that you have this information, what are you supposed to do with it?
- they are inexpensive
- they are shelf stable - meaning the food will have a longer shelf life
Never go eat in a restaurant? Never buy any packaged foods?
Not only is that unrealistic but a large part of life is enjoyment and that includes having a meal in a restaurant as well as being able to enjoy a packaged snack on the go.
And remember, you aren't trying to ELIMINATE your intake of omega-6 essential fatty acid. That would not be wise! You simply want to be mindful about how much of them you are consuming.
It's what you do MOST of the time that matters.
Here are a few tips to increase your omega-3 intake while reducing your intake of omega-6.
How is all of this related to the appearance of your skin?
- Cook at home using as many fresh ingredients as possible. Making your meals in your own kitchen is really the only way to ensure what oils you are consuming. You have complete control as the chef of your kitchen and that's exciting!
- Become an avid label reader. Read the ingredient list of items you commonly buy. The good news is for most packaged foods available, there is always a healthier alternative. A perfect example, is jarred marinara sauce. There are versions that include added sugar and cheap vegetable oils. Keep looking and you will find one that does not contain these things.
- Consider adding wild caught salmon to your diet a few nights a week.
- Consider choosing an omega-3 supplement. Vegan seafood source (find that here) or fish source (find that here). *Always talk to your doctor before beginning any supplement routine.
- Start slow. If this feels like a lot of changes for you, please don't make them all at once. Choose one thing that you can start doing and focus on that. I firmly believe that when making nutritional changes, slow and steady wins the race.
It's simple. Acne can be a sign of excess inflammation in the body. Acne itself is a form of inflammation. By reducing the amount of excess inflammation in the body, it is possible to reduce the amount of excess inflammation that makes it appearance on the skin. The beauty of your skin goes far beyond your skincare routine.
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Resources: William Sears, MD "Prime Time Health: A Scientifically Proven Plan for Feeling Young and Living Longer."
Nicholas Perricone, MD "The Clear Skin Prescription: The Perricone Program to Eliminate Problem Skin."
This blog post is not intended to be used for medical advice. Before beginning any supplement routine or making changes to your diet it is advised that you seek counsel with a medical health professional.