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Cold-weather Nutrition and the Skin

By: Pat Lam
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

It is important to understand how the cold days of winter cause your clients to change their lifestyles, both physically and psychologically. For example, clients living in the North tend to suffer from more depression than those living closer to the equator, and physically, they tend to hibernate and eat more comfort foods that can contribute to weight gain. Although anti-aging health practitioners preach the benefits of healthy eating for preventive health care, this belief has always been a fundamental part of the Chinese philosophy. Eating in harmony with the season and according to your constitution, as well as keeping physically active, will keep you feeling well and healthy throughout the cold seasons until the warmer days return in spring. Find out what can you do to help clients beat the winter blues, and what skin care advice can be given to maintain clear, healthy skin during the cold, dark winter months.

Living in harmony with the cold seasons

One of the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) denotes that living and eating in accord with the natural environment can contribute greatly to health, and helping your clients change their diets with available foods during different seasons can be very beneficial to their well-being. Fall is a transition period that allows the body to transfer from the extreme heat of summer to the coolness of winter. This change can cause an imbalance in the body’s metabolism. With the cold, damp weather of winter in some regions, most people turn toward foods that provide more energy and heat to create warmth for the body. As temperatures drop, the air becomes drier and the body’s liquids are reduced, resulting in dry and dehydrated skin.

Winter blues

Many people suffer from winter blues due to shortened days and longer periods of darkness. Many turn toward comfort foods that provide warmth and feelings of fullness, such as cookies; mashed potatoes; root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, cauliflower and squash; grains; and beans. These foods are easily found during fall and early winter, providing color and variety. Rich meals often feature meats, such as turkey, chicken and lamb that can be seasoned with spices, such as ginger, turmeric, curry, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, clove, fennel and cayenne.

A good detoxification strategy after a rich meal is to eat a very light meal the following day, starting with oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, and eating more vegetarian fare for the rest of the day. Fruits and vegetables, including apples, prunes and broccoli, will promote detoxification.

The recent increased interest in drinking tea instead of coffee has led to numerous tea bars popping up in many cities. Steeped teas have become very popular, so try drinking teas high in antioxidants, such as black and green varieties, to warm the cold body and improve digestion after a meal.