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EFAs and Skin Health
Lack of essential fatty acids (EFAs) constitutes the most neglected aspect of a nutritional program for healthy, radiant skin. More specifically, while our intake of the n-6 (omega-6) EFA linoleic acid has doubled in our diet, our intake of the n-3 (omega-3) EFA alpha-linolenic acid is at 16% of already inadequate 1850 intake, and too low in the diets of 95-99% of the population.
The result of this imbalance of EFAs in the skin is dryness, dandruff, eczema and psoriasis-like inflammatory skin conditions, acne, cracked heels, toxic deposits in the skin, skin damage, and increased risk of sunburn and skin cancer. Not that the skin requires only EFAs for health. No, the skin requires protein (not a problem in most people’s diet), water (dehydration due to insufficient EFAs is widespread), minerals (silicon, zinc, copper, and magnesium play important roles), and vitamins (A, biotin, C, and E are important) all play their roles.
It’s just that EFAs are the most neglected: for 3 reasons.
First, EFAs are damaged by processing in the manufacture of cooking oils, margarines, shortenings, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fatty acids (including CLA), and are also damaged by sauting, frying, and deep-frying in food preparation, becoming toxic molecules that do damage to the skin. Second, n-3 intake is too low in most people. Third, the ratio between n-3 and n-6 in most people’s diets is way off. That is why so much attention deserves to be given to the role of EFAs in skin health.
A survey of consumers carried out in 2004 showed that 78% of the respondents reported improvements in their skin condition when they began to take the all-inclusive blend of oils made with health in mind known as Udo’s Choice Oil Blend. Some raved about the beauty of their skin. Others noted their skin improvements with less fanfare. But everyone who saw improvements was very grateful. The reports showed that bad skin got better, and good skin got better.
Dry Skin, Dandruff, and Cracked Heels
Dry skin is very common in this age of “fat phobia”. Whether you live in a desert or you experience dry skin in cold weather, do not be resigned to this unpleasant symptom, because dry skin can easily be fixed with the right kinds of good oils. Most people buy creams and lotions that hide the problem but never fix it.
But really, all you have to do is take a tablespoon per 50 pounds of body weight per day of Udo’s Choice Oil Blend, mixed in foods, spread out over the course of the day, and the problem is gone. Not only is the skin problem gone, but the rest of your body also get healthier, the risk factors for most degenerative conditions improve, you find yourself with more energy, better mood, better concentration, and calmer disposition.
Dandruff also responds positively to EFA intake, because dandruff is just dry skin flaking off. Some people can scratch their skin with the back of their fingernail, and leave a white streak of dry, loose skin flakes. This does not happen when EFA intake is optimized. Cracked heels are also the result of not having enough EFAs in the diet.
Eczema and Psoriasis
Both of these conditions are inflammatory in nature. Most people’s diet is rich in n-6, compared to their intake of n-3. Unfortunately for them, n-6 increases inflammation. However, the lacking n-3 decreases inflammation. To decrease skin inflammation, one needs only to increase n-3 or decrease n-6, or best do both. Udo’s Choice Oil Blend contains twice as much n-3 (50% of the oil) as n-6 (25% of the oil).
A simple replacement of n-6 rich, damaged commercial oils (up to 1 million toxic molecules for every one of the body’s 60 trillion cells in just one tablespoon) with the n-3 rich, n-6 adequate, undamaged, organic, made-with-health-in-mind Udo’s Choice Oil Blend gives partial or total relief of these inflammatory conditions within a very short time. The oil blend can even bring improvement by being put on the skin from the outside.
When pores in the skin become plugged, bacteria move in and have a feast. The immune system then fights them, and this leads to the pustulent zits that plague many people. The question is: What plugs the pores. EFAs (especially n-3) keep proteins soft and keep them from drying and flaking off. EFAs also flow well, and carry cellular debris and toxins to the surface of the skin, from where they can be removed with water, soap, and cloth.
When people get too little n-3 and n-6, or get the wrong ratio, and instead eat saturated and trans fats that are harder, don’t flow well, and don’t keep proteins in our pores from drying out, the clogging of pores is promoted. When people eat carbohydrates, these also tend to form saturated fats. The fundamental fix is to get more good fats and less bad fats. In addition, vitamin A helps prevent skin infection. Zinc speeds healing. Selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E provide antioxidant protection that prevents skin damage.
Tanning and Burning
Dry skin burns in the sun quite easily. Sunburn is associated with skin damage (leathery skin) and skin cancer. Well-oiled skin tans better and burns less. That is why oils are used in “tanning” lotions. The best oils, however, are not used in these lotions because they do not keep forever on the shelf. I have found that when I take enough good oils to keep my skin properly oiled (soft, smooth, and velvety), I can stay in the sun four times longer than I could before I adopted the good oils into my diet.
The sun is one of our important sources of vitamin D. Sun blocks can inhibit the production of this important essential nutrient/hormone. Recent research suggests that 80% of the population does not get enough vitamin D; that we need far more than is being recommended; and that insufficient amounts of vitamin D increase risk of bone loss, many cancers, cardiovascular disease, infections, insulin resistance, and immune and autoimmune conditions including multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel, and asthma.
Avoiding the sun is not the solution. Protecting the skin from inside with EFAs is a much better option. With this protection, I can still burn, but it takes a lot longer. And I get the vitamin D I need from the sun. This is to say that overexposure to the sun will always be a possibility, but a much less likely one when skin is properly oiled with n-3 and n-6 EFAs made with health in mind.