Keep your skin glowing through winter

By Geraldine Georgeou

Winter is here, and while I’m looking forward to enjoying more comfort foods like soups and stews, I know most hate the dull and dry skin that winter can bring.

Colder and windier weather – along with heating indoors – can dry out our skin and even irritate it. Here are my top nutrition tips for combatting winter skin, with some yummy meal suggestions too.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are important for skin health, as well as general health. Ensuring you eat enough healthy fats will ensure a year-round glow. Monounsaturated fats can be found in foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, while the best source of polyunsaturated fats (omega 3s) is oily fish, as well as some nuts and seeds. The omega 3 fats are so important as they strengthen the membranes in our body, including the ones in our skin, to ensure the skin can hold in more moisture.

Meal suggestions: My warm salmon and potato salad on page 157 makes for a great warm lunch on those chillier days, while my fig and brazil nut bombs on page 225 are the perfect snack packed with healthy fats from brazil nuts with a hot cup of tea.

Iron

Iron is an important nutrient year-round, especially for females. Low iron can contribute to pale skin and may exacerbate the winter dullness of our skin.

The best and most efficient dietary sources of iron are animal products, namely beef and lamb (which gives us haem iron); however, plant foods such as spinach, broccoli, lentils, beans, dried fruit, nuts and seeds are good sources of non-haem iron.

Non-haem iron is harder for our bodies to digest because the fibre in the food prohibits its absorption. So, we need to consume a far greater volume of the food to get the same nutrition; for example, two cups of boiled spinach contain the sa

We can improve iron absorption, especially of non-haem iron, by eating these foods with vitamin C– rich foods. It’s also important to note that some foods, such as coffee, tea, wine and calcium-rich foods, can reduce iron absorption. So, if increasing iron is your goal, be sure to drink those separately, rather than at mealtimes.

Meal suggestions: My corned beef with roasted brussels sprouts and pear quinoa on page 193 in the book is total winter comfort food, and any leftover beef could be used in sandwiches like the Reuben on page 181.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is well known as the sunshine-nutrient – and for good reason, the sun is the richest source and we absorb the nutrient through our skin. However, in winter, it’s harder to get enough Vitamin D from the sun as the days are shorter and we rug up with more clothes leaving our skin unexposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D is important in maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier, which also helps skin look plump and full. In lieu of lots of sunlight, you could try adding some dietary sources of Vitamin D into your diet like mushrooms, tuna, salmon, egg yolks and liver.

New research has found that putting your mushrooms out in the sun for 15 minutes boosts their vitamin D content up to eightfold.

Meal suggestions: Try tanning your mushrooms for 15 minutes before cooking them in my spinach, mushroom and ricotta omelette on page 121 or my stuffed mushrooms for a hearty winter lunch or dinner on page 155.

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