Heaters keep you warm, but they also wick moisture from the skin. And when you walk outside, exposure to cold air and wind gives your outer layers an environmental shock. Along with wintertime elements, not drinking as much water as you would during warmer months, not getting enough fresh fruits and veggies, and the nutritional deficit of your holiday leftovers, are all pitfalls that contribute to drying out your skin, hair, eyes, nose and mouth. Here are 5 tricks to block those winter dryness blues.
1. Get creative with water sources. Enjoying herbal tea is a great way to boost your winter water intake while warming your body from the inside, out. Coffee contributes to dehydration. To get your morning energy boost without dehydrating yourself, try an energizing herbal tea instead like Guayusa (pronounced Gwhy-you-sa). Continue to enjoy herbal teas throughout the day, and remember to choose teas that are hydration helpers, like Hibiscus tea.
2. Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to your room will counteract the drying effect of your home's heater and provide your skin the drink it needs. Luckily, moisture isn't just skin deep. As you breathe, the increased moisture also will hydrate your nasal passages and hair. One important note however - be sure to thoroughly clean your humidifier frequently to help ward off mold and bacteria growth that could trigger allergies and asthma.
3. Oatmeal baths - a topical treat. Oatmeal is packed with anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for centuries topically to sooth dry and itchy skin. Finely grind one cup of oatmeal using a blender or food processor. In order for the oatmeal to work its softening magic it should be ground fine enough that when mixed in water, it feels silky and clouds the water. Sprinkle the ground oats over a shallow pool of bathwater and mix it up a bit to break up any clumps, then soak and enjoy.
4. Lip cracking - the best defense is a natural offense. The best way to prevent lips from cracking is to develop a habit of keeping your lips hydrated year-round. Especially during the winter months, an all-natural lip balm is essential. And for the times when your lips get wind-whipped (which will happen), reach for an all-natural lip treatment therapy. For the homemade route, dab on a mixture of Vitamin E and coconut oil. My personal favorite that I cannot live without is the Calendula Lip Balm by Super Salve Company.
5. Hair tricks. Try an all-natural conditioning treatment. These can be bought, but they can easily be made, also. Egg yolks are loaded with fats and proteins and they make a fantastic monthly moisturizer. Honey attracts and locks in moisture. Avocado has been praised by beauty experts for its oils, which are most like our own natural skin secretions. No matter which you use, create a mixture a 1/2 cup (give or take) and apply to clean, damp hair. Leave the mixture on for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing. If using egg yolks, rinse with cool water to avoid cooking the eggs into your hair. And adding 1 Tbsp of olive oil to honey will make it easier to rinse when paired with warm water. Want a more tropically fragrant option that will rival big-beauty-brands? Try a teaspoon of lavender oil mixed with a teaspoon of coconut milk and massage into dry hair before bed. Rinse in the morning. Whichever way you go, your hair will thank you.
Bonus tip! For my face, I use Vasseur's Skincare Papaya Enzyme Toner. I interchange it with Heritage Products Rosewater and Glycerin Spray. Both products are wonderful for both men and women, smell like heaven and keep the skin hydrated.
How to Prepare an Oatmeal Bath. Howcast.
8 Homemade Hair Treatments. Women's Day.
The Best Humidifiers for Dry Skin and Stuffy Sinuses. Health magazine.
Dry Hair Treatments. TotalBeauty.com.
A hearty cereal grain that gets its distinct flavor from the roasting process it undergoes after harvesting and cleaning, oats are a full-service addition to your nutritional game plan, especially during winter. Oats are packed full of fiber, including beta-glucan which helps maintain hydration within your body. As an added bonus, the beta-glucan helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and provides lasting energy, making oats a perfect breakfast option. Studies have shown that beta-glucan also significantly enhances immune system response time and boosts your body's microbial defenses against invading pathogens. Additionally, oats help lower cholesterol, and subsequently the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. And studies have shown that the oats' phenols interact synergistically with vitamin C to nearly double the length of time LDL levels are lowered. Taking all of these things into consideration, starting your day with a steaming bowl of oatmeal will not only provide you with a slow-release of energy to help you through a busy morning, but also it may amp up your immune system and help protect you from rampant winter viruses like cold and flu. For that extra defensive boost, ditch the coffee (a dehydrator) and pair your hearty breakfast with an herbal tea or homemade juice that is high in vitamin C.
Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical nutrition from Marz: (a textbook in clinical nutrition). Portland, Or: Omni-Press.
Oats. World's Healthiest Foods.
A steaming bowl of healthy, fresh-cooked oatmeal is a perfect way to warm yourself on cold winter mornings. But remember, all oatmeal isn't created equal. Instant oatmeal is often loaded with unnecessary sugars and should be avoided. Instead, take an extra five minutes and use organic rolled oats. This yummy oatmeal recipe is loaded with fiber, vitamins C, K, E, B1, and manganese. It also offers the added bonus of over half of the daily value for hard-to-find omega-3 fatty acids and adding almond meal lends protein to the dish, making it a well-balanced and delicious breakfast. This recipe serves two.
Combine the water and salt in a small saucepan and turn the heat to high. When the water boils, turn the heat to low, add oatmeal, and cook, stirring until the water is just absorbed, about five minutes. Mix in the almond meal, walnuts, flaxseeds, blueberries and cinnamon. Cover the pan, turn off the heat and let it set for five minutes. Serve with almond or hazelnut milk and molasses.
Drinking fresh, hot herbal teas during blistery winter months offers a host of benefits. It warms your body and excites taste buds while increasing hydration and replenishing important nutrients. A popular ingredient in herbal tea blends, the vitamin C loaded Hibiscus packs a punch to dry winter ailments with antioxidant and immune-boosting properties. Hibiscus teas are commonly used around the world. Recent studies show hibiscus may help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help manage weight and act as a natural angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. One recent study explored the antioxidant properties of hibiscus tea on people. Researchers found that antioxidant levels drop throughout the day, but hibiscus tea causes that level to spike within an hour of consumption. The spike is short-lived, but significant nonetheless. In another study, an international team of researchers compared the antioxidant content of 3,139 foods, including hundreds of beverages. Hibiscus tea, ranked high on the chart as one of the richest in antioxidants. A healthy alternative to sugary fruit juices and sodas, hibiscus tea is sour, but it's easy to sweeten up with Stevia, and give yourself a tropical treat during winter months. Try this: soak a handful of bulk, dried organic hibiscus flowers overnight and then blend with a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of amla (packed with properties that aid skin, immune function, digestion and more), and a handful of fresh mint leaves to make a half-gallon. Sweeten to taste with your favorite Stevia. This kid-friendly (it tastes like fruit punch) recipe may be one of the highest antioxidant beverages in the world.
Hibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage? NutritionFacts.org.
Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods. NutritionFacts.org.
The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
HIBISCUS TEA BENEFITS: Enjoy the health benefits of this beautiful flower. The Mindful Word.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally With Hibiscus Tea. Mother Earth News.
Vitamin A is complex. Contrary to popular belief, vitamin A is actually a group of related nutrients, not a single nutrient. Each type of vitamin A carries its own benefits and source of origin. Retinoid forms (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and retinyl esters) are found in animal-foods and offer immune, inflammatory, genetic and reproductive-related benefits. Carotenoids (various carotenes and xanthophylls) are found in plant foods and most function as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The human body is able to effectively convert carotenoids into retinoid forms within the body. Vitamin A has long been known for its role in vision! But, did you know that recent studies have been exploring the potential of carotenoids as anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds, in part because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties? Both categories of vitamin A offer benefits (namely immune and anti-inflammatory) that go a long way during the winter months. This winter treat yourself to vitamin A rich foods including yogurt, eggs, chicken, shrimp, salmon, halibut, scallops, sardines, tuna, cod, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, and collard, turnip, and mustard greens. Your whole body will thank you.
Vitamin A. World's Healthiest Foods. Gaby, Alan. 2011. Nutritional medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Similar to employing a humidifier in your home, steam treatments are a fantastic way to rehydrate dry skin, hair and respiratory passages. Steam helps ease congestion, sinus infections and inflammation within respiratory passages. Additionally, the moist heat will hydrate your skin, enhance circulation and unclog pores, giving your skin an unseasonably healthy glow. Adding essential oils and herbs to your steam bath will boost the health benefits of this therapy and promote mental relaxation. Eucalyptus and peppermint oils offer anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Chamomile, calendula and lavender are excellent hydration aides. And dried hibiscus lends its antioxidant properties to revitalize the respiratory system and skin.
For a simple at-home method, boil two cups of water and pour over your herb mixture (1/3 cup of each herb), steep for ten minutes. Next, fill a clean bathroom sink or large bowl halfway with very hot water. Then press or strain the herbs and add the herbal infusion and four or five drops of the essential oil of your choice to the water. Pull up a chair and drape a large bath towel over your head and shoulders to create a "tent" over yourself and your steam bath. Relax for 3 to 5 minutes.
Full-body steam therapies are available at spas and salons worldwide and offer added benefits including increasing the surface temperature of your skin as well as your core body temperature and promoting sweating. Additionally, full-body treatments will increase blood circulation, relax muscles and joints, and ease stress and tension. Hyperthermia (detoxification by heat stress) has even been proven to help remove toxins stored in body fat and to break down scar tissue. Benefits aside, full-body steam treatments often are much more involved and can include additional spa treatments including lymph brushing, mineral wraps and massages. Before starting a steam regime, you should consider asking your Naturopathic Doctor if steam therapy may be a beneficial hydration treatment for you.
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.