Low Fat Diets Dry Out Skin

Winter can leave our skin dry and itchy. Although many things contribute – hot showers, our genes and aging — to name a few,  the cure is an inside job.  We know fluids prevent dehydration, but it’s actually dietary fats, not more water, that lock in moisture and keep our skin cells plump and young looking.

All human cells are encased in fat. We need a regular supply of beneficial fats to keep these cells walls healthy and elastic.

Several years ago, I went to southern France to learn about cooking with duck fat; I left with silky soft skin. Toulouse women, among the longest-lived in the world, credit their youthful skin (and longevity) to a copious intake of duck fat.

Without fat, we cannot absorb key skin nutrients, notably vitamins A and D.  Vitamin D hydrates our skin, boosts elasticity, and helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles, says dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D.

Vitamin A helps us rebuild skin collagen, keeping skin firm and elastic, while reversing photoaging, explains Ontario Dermatologist, Lisa Kellett, MD, F.R.C.P.

Other skin-nourishing fats include grass fed butter and cheese, ghee, cold-water fish, egg yolks, organ meats, coconut and palm oils and lard.  On the other hand, vegetable oils, including canola, safflower, corn and grape seed, weaken cell walls, promoting wrinkles and even skin cancer.

Low fat diets, especially when they contain vegetable oils, can leave your skin looking dry, wrinkled and aged, and at a greater risk of melanoma.  Good fats improve our appearance in an even deeper way: they prevent anxiety and depression, two emotions that detract from natural beauty.

To learn other ways fat can benefit your health, email me.

 


Comments

Low Fat Diets Dry Out Skin — 21 Comments

  1. It’s irresponsible to recommend a high fat diet for everyone. People carrying one or two copies of the APOE 4 gene (the “Alzheimers gene”) need to stay away from fat. Studies have shown that too much saturated fat can develop and increase the “tangles” in the brain which are a hallmark of this disease. Like Rob, too much fat raises my cholesterol into the stratosphere.

    • You’re right Janet. Everyone is unique in his or her needs for all nutrients. In general Americans get too little beneficial fat and too much of the inflammatory fats however. Interestingly researchers and anecdotal reports show that use of coconut oil (a highly saturated fat) helps reverse the amyloid B peptides and mitochondrial changes in Alzheimer’s patients, reversing some symptoms and slowing the disease. Some suspect a high coconut oil intake could prevent Alzheimer’s. I also tend to see the overall lipid profile improve when people increase their good fats, meaning cholesterol may increase a lot but the particles become more of the light, fluffy, “good” type, plus protective HDL levels increase, providing an overall protective effect. That said, everyone is different and consulting with a health professional who understands the details is always helpful.

  2. NMR test? You’re talking about the test that measures particle size? I discussed it with my doctor and his answer was basically that LDL is atherogenic regardless of particle size. Perhaps the larger particles are somewhat less atherogenic but hey still problematic. The AHA still places great importance on reducing one’s LDL. Here in Canada the same recommendations apply.

  3. One other thing, the healthiest, longest-lived human populations do not consume a lot of saturated fat. Two such populations are the Okinawans and the Hunza. Both follow a HCLF diet with modest amounts of animal foods.

    • You might consider getting an NMR test. As cholesterol levels go up with increases in saturated fat, the particles become less dense, and thus not harmful. HDL levels also tend to rise, often giving a much more favorable lipid profile than with low cholesterol levels. Seventy five percent of patients hospitalized with heart attacks have “safe” cholesterol levels, and half have low levels, so don’t be fooled by cholesterol alone. Okinawans cook their food in lard; it is often described as “greasy”. The Hunzas do eat less meat than most, although they eat sheep and poultry and they cook in ghee (clarified butter) and tallow. Both these cultures tend to seek out harmony and peace, probably a bigger help than diet.

  4. As someone who has been told (via an EKG) that I may have had a mild attack in the past, I’m not willing to take risks with a high saturated fat diet. I honestly could care less about those studies. I do know from personal experience that such a diet has caused my cholesterol levels to increase to unhealthy levels so now I really limit my saturated fat intake. Btw, the leading cause of death in France is still heart disease. There is no French Paradox.

  5. Sure, added fat in the diet may help your skin look good but it doesn’t do your cardiovascular health any favours. Any added fat in my diet will come mostly from monounsaturated sources.

    • Two recent studies have shown no link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease, stroke or other disease.

      Check this one from last year with over half a million participants

      Or this one from 2010 with over 347,000 people

      Saturated fats protect your liver form toxins, including medications, pollutants and alcohol. Saturated fats also enable key vitamins to be absorbed. France, a country famous for its butter, lard and duck fat intake has traditionally seen far less heart disease and obesity than the lower fat eaters in the U.S. So the question is “Why have we been told the opposite for 35 years?” We have lived through the perfect storm of politics, money, the once-powerful edible oil industry and a gullible congress and U.S. population.

    • Coconut oil is a wonderful fat that can actually help with weight loss, thyroid function and with parasites while being easy to digest. Coconut milk doesn’t have the healing abilities of the oil, but a great addition to soups, curries and other dishes both for health and flavor.

    • The best way of dealing with dampness is to avoid sugar, flours, tropical fruits and combinations of things such as cheese with flour or fruit with protein. The ghee/butter itself is not damp; it’s when you put it on wheat bread or pasta that the dish becomes so. Raw grass fed butter or ghee would be a good choice for someone with damp signs, especially used to cook or to add to green veggies.

  6. what cooking oils do you recommend? I cook a lot of Indian food (so yes, a great fan of ghee and good to know its positive impact) but olive oil is not an option. I don’t care for coconut oil either, tastewise.

    • Ghee is ideal for Indian and many other cooking styles. You might check out coconut oils without the coconut flavor, or try palm or red palm oils, which are similar to coconut in terms of fatty acids and ability to withstand heat, but no coconut flavor.

  7. Yes, my coconut oil is super coconutty–spectrum brand, organic and unrefined. I will add those other ingredients to see if it alters the taste–they really sound delish!

    What would you suggest to use to coat the waffle iron instead of canola? My waffle recipe I make for the girls calls for canola oil, what to use??..applesauce? thank you!
    Yes, we eat LOTS of free range eggs, lots of Kerrigold butter, but I can’t bring myself to eat liver!

    • There is never a need for canola oil! For waffle irons use real butter or ghee (clarified butter). Ghee functions much like an oil as the milk solids, which burn, are removed. You could also use coconut oil.

  8. Linda, you urged me to take the leap of faith with including good fats in my diet and now I can’t do with out! I put coconut oil in my girls’ steel cut oats, bake with it but I have yet to try a dinner recipe that I like with the oil. I have tried it on snap peas and to me it tasted like a bit too close to sun tan oil. DO you have a suggestion for a food that I could cook with coconut oil that would have a less pungent taste? Also, can you list a couple of ‘cooking with duck fat’ ideas for a beginner:)?

    Is organic canola oil OK to use sometimes? I will use it very rarely and sparingly if a recipe calls for it and I don’t have a good substitute on hand….

    Also, i still take daily the Cod Liver Oil and Vit. D3. Should I also be taking a Vitamin A?

    Thank you again!!!!!
    Andria:)

    • Does your coconut oil taste super coconutty? Some don’t have the coconut flavor and are easier to work into our not-so-tropical dishes. So one issue may be the type you bought. Did you add sea salt and tamari, garlic or ginger and sesame seeds to your snow peas? This is delicious even with the highly coconut flavored oil brands. Curried dishes work great with coconut oi to saute in. Also curried butternut squash soup with coconut oil is tasty.

      For duck fat, try sauteing cabbage, Brussels sprouts (quartered), chard or other greens. If you want the most decadent fried potatoes in the world, try them in duck fat in a saute pan or in the oven. Haven’t tried sweet potatoes that way, but that sounds pretty good!

      AVOID CANOLA OIL! It is too processed, potentially rancid, may cause heart lesions, deplete you of vitamin E and is often contaminated with GMO’s and you are supporting an industry that is hurting small farmers. Use butter or olive oil.

      No need for more A, but be sure you are eating lots of free range eggs and pastured butter plus liver!

    • Does that mean you are pro-fat? I do think most of us need even more fat as we age. It keeps us happier, more content.

      Let me know when you’re back in town!

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