Feed Your Skin: Omega 3's

As we’ve mentioned before (here and here), diet plays an important role in all skin conditions - not just helping combat wrinkles and lines, but other skin problems including acne, eczema, psoriasis. 

Among the must-have foods for healthy skin: omega-3 fatty acids - the "good fats" that have been credited with increasing heart health as well as helping your skin look healthier. The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids include seafood (especially tuna and salmon), as well as walnuts, canola oil, and flax seed.

The connection between omega-3s and health was first observed in the 1970s. Scientists observed that Inuit populations in Greenland had a reduced rate of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other ailments even though they ate a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet. The researchers hypothesized that the type of fat — marine-derived — might play a role. Since then, study after study has confirmed that omega-3s in fish have a potent effect on reducing heart disease. 

A less well-known benefit of omega-3’s is the role these essential fatty acids play on hair and skin. Our bodies are not capable of producing eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) so we need all these essential fatty acids through diet and supplementation.

These fatty acids are responsible for the health of the cell membrane, which is not only what acts as the barrier to things that are harmful, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell. The membrane is what influences the cells ability to hold water, having a nice, healthy barrier yields moister, softer, more subtle, and more wrinkle-free skin. 

Below are some of our favourite omega-3 benefits: 

Fights Inflammation - Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful anti-inflammatories. Research suggests that the fats protect skin cells against sun-induced inflammation and help control how the body responds to UV rays, thereby lessening damage. When pollution, stress and an unhealthy diet trigger inflammation, your skin’s collagen suffers, making it harder for skin to bounce back when you make facial expressions. This, in turn, can lead to wrinkles around the eyes and mouth and on the forehead. 

Hydrates Skin - Omega-3s are a crucial part of your skin’s lipid (fat) content and help bolster its barrier function, which, when working properly, acts like a seal that keeps moisture in and irritants out. When skin is compromised, though, moisture escapes, causing skin to become dry, rough and more prone to irritation. Increasing your omega-3 intake helps strengthen that seal. Essentially, fatty acids can act as natural moisturizers that revitalize dry skin from the inside out.

Boost Brain Power - Researchers have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements. Compared to non-users, fish oil supplements were associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. In one rat study, there was a clear association between fish oil and brain volume in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking (cerebral cortex and hippocampus).

Healthy hair - Shiny hair is typically what most women strive for but aren’t sure how to achieve these beautiful locks. For healthy, shiny hair, you need proper nutrition. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish your hair follicles for stronger and shinier hair. 

How to add omega 3’s to your diet:

If you'd like to reap the benefits of fish oil, you can take them in supplement form. You can also get more fish oil in your diet by eating more oily fish. We recommend eating two 6-ounce servings of fish per week to see and feel the best. Choose fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as: sardines, salmon, tuna, and anchovies. 

Remember to avoid the larger species of fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, as these varieties are very high in mercury. Try to eat mostly those fish that are lower in mercury, such as those listed above, and eat a wide variety of fish to make sure you're getting proper nutrition.

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