Beauty and the Beastly Low-Fat Diet – is Eating Low-Fat Aging You?

Beauty and the Beastly Low-Fat Diet – is Eating Low-Fat Aging You?

I believe that low-fat living is really the pits for our skin and aging. Here’s why:

  • When fat comes out of foods, sugar is used to replace flavor and moisture. Sugar, especially fructose, creates Advanced Glycation End Products, a factor in aging. It stops collagen from doing its thing.
  • Essential fats protect against UV sun damage. Omega-3 modulates the UVR-induced inflammatory response in the skin.
  • We all know smoking is terrible for your skin, but so is pollution. Fatty acids FORTIFY THE PERIMETER so toxins and pollutants are kept out.
Are you thinking, “That’s nice, but I avoid sugar, don’t get enough sun, don’t smoke, and live in a pristine place?” (Hey—you must be a Vancouverite!) Seriously though, that does not mean that you are exempt from my argument.

Health freaks need fats too. Why?

  • Key nutrients for glowing skin—vitamins A and E, carotenoids—are better absorbed with fat. Studies show quantity matters.

And it isn’t all about looks.

The skin's primary biological functions are acting as a protective barrier, playing an active role in our immunity, gathering sensory info from the environment, and regulating body temperature. Wow! For all of these reasons, let’s take a moment to appreciate our skin! Skin is active—it responds to cues from our lover or the weather—and kindly starts sweating as soon as we hit the tropics for our deserved mid-winter vacation. It is also metabolically active, synthesizing or modifying saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, collagen, cholesterol, and ceramides. Our skin changes based on the sun, the bacteria in our gut, the food and water we ingest, and aging.

During epidermal aging:

  • ridges between skin layers flatten
  • sebaceous glands produce less sebum
  • sweat glands become fewer
  • fewer nutrients get to the skin
  • women going through menopause have a huge drop in collagen production
  • post-menopausal women no longer make the fatty acid GLA
  • skin, hair, and nails can become weak, dry, fragile, and less resilient
Luckily, boosting the amount of water and fat in the skin is possible though. It is proven that the fatty acid composition of the skin can be significantly modified by the diet.

And this is why it is important to eat fat. The right fats.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are crucial:
  • for soft, smooth, velvety, healthy skin, connective tissue, and hair.
  • for anti-inflammatory and moisture-enhancing properties to reduce dryness, flakiness, and irritability as well as impact psoriasis, acne, and eczema.
  • to reduce the effects of aging skin.

Lipid metabolism in the skin:

As we know, EFAs are called essential because they’re needed for basic body functions just like essential vitamins or minerals, and EFAs must be obtained from diet.
  • The ones that are essential for the body as a whole are called LA and ALA.
  • The skin, unlike the liver, lacks the enzymes that convert these to other ones (like GLA and DHA).
  • That is why, for the skin, LA, ALA, as well as GLA, AA, EPA, and DHA fats are all considered essential nutrients.
When we do not get all of these, especially GLA, atopic dermatitis eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, increased transepidermal water loss, and impaired barrier function are more common.
  • Because the skin does have some enzymes, it converts GLA to DGLA, which fights inflammation.
  • GLA has been effective in reducing the symptoms of dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, and acne as well as reducing redness and erythema due to UV radiation and improving healing of wounds.

So avoid smoking, pollution, sugar, and excess sun, and eat nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich foods. And do yourself a favor and include lots of healthy fat at meals too.

As Dr. Udo Erasmus explained in a great article from 2015, dry skin reliably indicates a lack of essential fats, which go to vital organs first to ensure survival. Skin gets them last! So you need to get enough. Our skin. It’s the package we are all wrapped up in, our largest organ. Let’s feed it some fats! LA, ALA, GLA, AA, and DHA are all available to you in Flora’s Udo’s Choice DHA 3+6+9 oil (CA/US). All the skin essentials - LA, ALA, GLA, AA, EPA, and DHA are in Flora’s 7 Sources Oil. (US) GLA is available in concentrated form in Efamol® Evening Primrose oil. (CA) References Bray, GA. How bad is Fructose? Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Levi B, Werman MJ. Long-Term Fructose Consumption Accelerates Glycation and Several Age-Related Variables in Male Rats. Israel Institute of Technology. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Van het Hof, K. West, C., Weststrate, J.A., Hautvast J.G.A.J.. The Journal of Nutrition. Dietary Factors That Affect the Bioavailability of Carotenoids. Chapkin RS, Ziboh VA, McCullough JL. Dietary influences of evening primrose and fish oil on the skin of essential fatty acid-deficient guinea pigs. J Nutr. 1987;117:1360-1370. Rhodes LE, O'Farrell S, Jackson MJ, Friedmann PS. Dietary fish-oil supplementation in humans reduces UVB-erythemal sensitivity but increases epidermal lipid peroxidation. J Invest Dermatol. 1994;103:151-154. Miller CC, Tang W, Ziboh VA, Fletcher MP. Dietary supplementation with ethyl ester concentrates of fish oil (n-3) and borage oil (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids induces epidermal generation of local putative anti-inflammatory metabolites. J Invest Dermatol. 1991;96:98-103. Miller CC, Ziboh VA, Wong T, Fletcher MP. Dietary supplementation with oils rich in (n-3) and (n-6) fatty acids influences in vivo levels of epidermal lipoxygenase products in guinea pigs. J Nutr. 1990;120:36-44. Oikawa D, Nakanishi T, Nakamura Y, et al. Dietary CLA and DHA modify skin properties in mice. Lipids. 2003;38:609-614. Chapkin RS, Ziboh VA. Inability of skin enzyme preparations to biosynthesize arachidonic acid from linoleic acid. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1984;124:784-792. Chapkin RS, Ziboh VA, Marcelo CL, Voorhees JJ. Metabolism of essential fatty acids by human epidermal enzyme preparations: evidence of chain elongation. J Lipid Res. 1986;27:945-954. Ziboh VA, Chapkin RS. Metabolism and function of skin lipids. Prog Lipid Res. 1988;27:81-105. Ziboh VA, Miller CC, Cho Y. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:361S-366S. Ziboh VA, Cho Y, Mani I, Xi S. Biological significance of essential fatty acids/prostanoids/lipoxygenase-derived monohydroxy fatty acids in the skin. Arch Pharm Res. 2002;25:747-758. Burr GO, Burr MM. On the nature and role of the fatty acids essential in nutrition. J Biol Chem. 1930;86:587-621. Hansen AE, Haggard ME, Boelsche AN, Adam DJ, Wiese HF. Essential fatty acids in infant nutrition. III. Clinical manifestations of linoleic acid deficiency. J Nutr. 1958;66:565-576
About the author: Dana Remedios
Holistic Nutritionist Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP has a passion for helping others break through their blocks to greater health, wealth, and happiness, working with transformational mind-body tools. The Vancouver-based educator and coach answers your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Specialist working in the Product Information Department at Flora, and is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog.