Get great skin from the inside out!

News Update
By Michael Greger MD
Instead of treating sensitive skin topically, with lotions and creams, why not treat it from the
inside out with diet?
About half of the American population says they have sensitive skin, defined loosely as
tingling, chafing, burning, itching sensations when exposed to various environmental factors. A
similar high prevalence has been reported throughout Japan and Europe, and it appears
especially prevalent among women. Often there are no obvious signs, so it was dismissed as a
“princess and the pea” phenomenon by the medical community. Now it’s largely recognized as
a genuine physiological phenomenon, thought to arise from a breakdown of the skin barrier that
allows potentially irritating substances to penetrate the skin and generate an inflammatory
reaction. So what can we do about it?
In 2011, a paper was published entitled “Supplementation of Flaxseed Oil Diminishes Skin
Sensitivity and Improves Skin Barrier Function and Condition.” In a randomized double-blind
12-week study, researchers gave women about a half teaspoon of flaxseed oil a day versus
safflower oil as a control. That’s the amount of oil found in about a teaspoon and a half of flax
To measure skin sensitivity they painted an irritant chemical on their forearms, and after three
months there was significant decrease in skin reddening in the flax group compared to the
safflower group. Their skin ended up significantly better hydrated, had significantly better barrier
function, was less rough, less scaly, and was smoother
The best source of flaxseed oil is within the flaxseed itself. Then you get all the nutrition of the
whole food, and it’s cheaper and more stable than the oil. Make sure to grind them up to
maximize nutrient absorption. Unlike flaxseed oil, you can bake flaxseeds without destroying the
omega 3s, and you can even store ground flaxseed for a month at room temperature without
spoilage or oxidation.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional
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