Linoleic acids and Gamma Linolenic Acids (GLAs)

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Studies have found that consumption of linoleic acids (an essential fatty acid) and vitamin C decrease drying and wrinkling of the skin.  Linoleic acid plays a key role here because once ingested, linoleic acid turns into gamma linolenic acid also known as GLA. Through a series of steps, GLA is eventually converted to prostaglandin 1, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and is also effective in regulating water loss and protecting the skin from damage. You can also supplement with evening primrose oil or borage oil, both contain high amounts of GLA.  Watch my video with the wonderful Kristen Ma to learn more about evening primrose oil here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-ClA89C-K0.

Walnuts contain both linoleic acid and omega 3 fatty acids.  This is excellent because in our western diets we tend to have a higher amount of omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3 and this can cause an imbalance.  Additionally, some of the major sources of omega 6 fatty acids in the western diet come from corn, wheat and soy bean oil.  These have been heavily modified and now cause digestive and health problems for many individuals.

A handful of walnuts make a great snack, or can be added on top of a salad or are great additions when baking healthy treats.

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Acne and Diet

Acne is the most common of all skin problems, affecting 79%-95% of the adolescent population in North America (1). The two main types of acne are open comedones- dilated follicles that contain a black plug (black heads) and closed comedones- follicular papules that do not contain inflammatory changes (white heads). Although there is some controversy whether or not diet is linked to acne, many studies suggest there is a strong association between diet and skin health.

The composition of the acne diet should include: 45% protein, 35% carbohydrate and 20% fat. This diet has shown to help balance the hormones involved in acne production. Avoiding trans-fatty acids and foods containing iodine (seaweed and iodized table salt) has also shown to be beneficial for acne suffers.

Including foods containing high amounts of vitamin A, B and C can be helpful. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce the amount of fatty substances in the skin that block pores and cause black heads (2). Vitamin B helps reduce the impact of stress on the nervous system, in turn helping to decrease the hormonal effect of stress on the skin and Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, beneficial for many skin conditions. Yellow fruits and vegetables are high in Vitamin A, meats and whole grains contain vitamin B and,foods high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, rosehips and many other fruits and vegetables.

Food sensitivities have also been known to cause acne. If you are a long term sufferer from skin problems then you may want to consider having an IgG/IgE test done by your Naturopath which can help identify individual foods that may be causing your particular skin problem!

And lastly, diets high in sugar have been linked to acne so avoiding sugar may help reduce flare ups.

1.Murray, M and Pizzorno J. “Acne Vulgaris and Acne Conglobata” in : The Textbook of Natural Medicine 3rd Ed. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2006: St. Louis, Missouri.

2. Lee, Helen. The Tao of Beauty. Broadway Books, 1999: New York, NY.