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You Are What You Eat

By: Howard Murad, MD
Posted: August 26, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Alpha linoleic acid (ALA) works together with antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. It is important for growth, helps to prevent cell damage, and helps the body rid itself of harmful substances. ALA is found in vegetables, beans, fruits, flaxseed oil, canola oil, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, walnut oil and raw walnuts.

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is an EFA in the omega-6 family that is found primarily in plant-based oils. It is less common than ALA, but can be found in seed oils, such as borage, evening primrose, black currant and hemp.

Durian is another anti-inflammatory food that isn’t seen much in the United States. It’s a native plant to Asia that offers a one-two punch to inflammation. Together, the omega-3 EFAs and antioxidants in durian act synergistically as they moderate the induction of inflammatory mediators, decreasing free-radical tissue damage, and inhibiting collagen and elastin breakdown from matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), natural enzymes in skin that degrade the skin matrix.

Early studies have also indicated that sulfur-containing foods such as garlic, onions, meat and cruciferous vegetables can offer anti-inflammatory and detoxifying benefits. Sulfur is found in every living cell in the body, and it plays a key role in collagen synthesis. For alternatives to common inflammatory foods, see Inflammatory Foods and Anti-inflammatory Alternatives.

Special concerns

Although inflammation-abating foods are good for cell health in general, there are some nutrients that are better than others for specific skin conditions.