Natural health: Dry skin and Bell's Palsy

It is important that you get enough essential fatty acids in your diet to maintain healthy skin, says Megan Sheppard.

Q. My skin is very dry, particularly when the weather changes. The dryness affects my arms and legs more than my face. I use natural moisturisers regularly. What else can I do?

A. Dry skin without any underlying medical condition can be just as much related to what you put in your body as it is about the moisturisers you use. 

If you work in an office with artificial heating or cooling then this will also dry your skin, particularly since you have already noted that your skin changes with the weather.

It is important that you get enough essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet, since these are crucial for maintaining healthy skin. 

The best source of EFAs are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut, and herring. 

If you don’t eat fish then look for a vegetarian source, such as Udo’s Choice, which has a 2:1 ratio of omega 3 and 6. Udo’s Choice costs €14.99 for 250ml from health stores. Take one tablespoon twice daily with meals.

Vitamin C is another nutrient that is vital for maintaining plump and moisturised skin. It is an important ingredient in the growth and repair of tissue, plus it works to boost the immune system, and reduce stress levels. 

When supplementing with vitamin C, make sure that you get between 1,000-3,000mg daily in 500mg increments.

Along with getting enough fats and healing nutrients in through your diet, dry skin may indicate that you could benefit from drinking more water. Add a squeeze of citrus juice to ensure optimal hydration. 

Hormonal changes can also have quite an impact on the moisture content and texture of our skin.

Most people only require a bath or shower once a day to maintain effective personal hygiene — if excessively dry skin is an issue then it’s wise to only bathe every other day instead. 

Make sure that your shower is short and not too hot, as you lose more protective oils from your skin when you are in the water for longer, with a greater loss as the water temperature increases.

Q. Is there anything to be done to help with Bell’s Palsy? My doctor has told me that it goes away with time. What can I do to speed up the healing process?

A. Your doctor has given you sound advice, in that this is a condition where time is the best remedy, typically taking around two months to right itself once more. 

There are a few things you can do that may support the process, but patience is certainly key.

Bell’s Palsy is an unusual condition, where damage to the facial nerve temporarily paralyses the muscles controlling the expression on one side of the face. 

Named after Charles Bell, a Scottish surgeon, this condition can be the result of nerve trauma, infection, or a tumour pressing on the nerve.

The B vitamins, best taken together as a B-Complex supplement, are worth considering since they play a significant role in the health and function of the nervous system.

Magnesium is involved in muscle impulse transmission and the activity of nerve cells — you should take 250mg daily. Calcium (500mg a day) is also important for healthy nerve functioning and muscle contraction.

If you choose a diet high in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and avoid acid-forming foods (processed foods, baked goods, fatty foods, pasta, sugar, tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, nuts and seeds), this will help to reduce inflammation and myelin sheath damage. Whole grains such as quinoa, millet, and all sprouted grains are fine. 

Healthy fats are essential to brain and nerve functioning, so include cold-water fish, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil in your diet or supplement with essential fatty acids.

One thing you definitely need to be aware of is that aspirin should be avoided, since it creates by-products that are corrosive to the outer protective layer of nerves (myelin sheath) and will worsen your condition.

Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard?

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Feelgood, Irish Examiner, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork

NOTE: The information contained in this column is not a subsitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor.


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