There is one myth that stubbornly persists and in my experience gets people really worked up when it’s discussed; the myth of low fat diet equaling healthy diet. Not only has this been debunked multiple times by credible sources and studies but eating a very low fat diet may have adverse effects not only on your overall health and not surprisingly also on your skin. Yet we continue to be marketed low-fat foods as the healthy alternative, and we continue to ‘eat-it-up’ as healthy!
According to the Harvard School of Public Health it’s time to end the Low-Fat myth, it’s neither reduced obesity nor increased health, it may have even done the opposite. In the 1960’s about 45% of calories we consumed were from fat – around 13% of us were obese, fewer than 1% had Type 2 Diabetes, 50 years later we’ve reduced our fat intake by over 25% and obesity has risen to 34% and Type 2 Diabetes to 11%! Their speculation is that reduced fat processed foods are compensating for the loss in taste and texture with added sugars, salts and refined grains. While we have indeed reduced fats in our diet our sugar intake has skyrocketed in recent decades.
According to HSPC it’s the type of fat that matters most. They point out that our bodies need fats & oils for good health, in addition to providing us a source of sustained energy fats and oils are also necessary for our bodies to absorb and utilize the nutrients and vitamins in our foods, like CoQ10 and vitamins A, D, E, and K. One or two tablespoons of olive oil on your salad is all you need to make the best use of all those healthy vitamins, skip it and you don’t get the benefit of those healthy greens!
So what does this all have to do with our skin? Beside the fact that our skin is a mirror to our overall health diets that are rich in healthy essential fatty acids assist your skin in the production of lipids which in turn help your skin trap & hold onto moisture. Essential fatty acids are called because they are indeed essential to every single cell in your body. Our bodies cannot manufacture them, if they are not present in our diet our health (and our skin) suffers. Deficiencies in the Omega 3’s can result in dry, flaky skin.
A diet rich with omega 3’s include fish like sardines & salmon, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts are also excellent source of omega 3. Additionally a diet rich in monounsaturated oils, like olive oil, not only helps boost your immune system by making nutrients available to it - it can help your skin stay younger looking. Sources include avocados; nuts like pecans, almonds & hazelnuts and seeds like pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Though the Harvard School of Public Health would like us to think twice before opting for a low fat diet they also point out that not every fat is equal. While monounsaturated fats are considered one key to health and saturated fats are not the ‘pure evil’ they were once purported to be ( moderation is key), there is one truly evil fat. What’s that one fat that you should avoid completely? Hydrogenated or Trans fat oils! These do nothing for your health but clog your arteries and cause heart disease. The recommended amount is 0%, absolute zero! And that’s not the 0% you see on nutrition info on labels – by law a food can contain up to .5 grams per serving and still say zero. Look in the ingredients, if you see hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated anything put it back. Interesting note; trans fats (aka hydrogenated oils) were introduced to our diets in 1911 with P&G’s Crisco. The hydrogenated cottonseed oil it was made from was intended initially not for consumption but to make soap! Various market forces brought it into our mainstream diet including the fact that it made processed foods last longer on the store shelf and mass shipping easy! Food for thought (not for consumption!)
Here's To Our Health!
Shirley Makela, AADP INHC
Truly Natural Skin Care in Partnership with Nature