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Smooth and supple skin this winter. Low-carb diets: Are you getting enough fibre? Fortify your immunity and avoid the flu.

Smooth and supple skin this winter

Q: My skin is already starting to get dry and scaly and I’m worried what will happen with winter weather. What can I do to keep it smooth and supple?

A: Sherina Jamal: To maintain a glowing complexion this winter, incorporate three additional steps to your weekly skin regimen:

1. Exfoliate. Get rid of the outer layer of dead skin cells to make way for new cells to grow. This process will leave your skin looking smoother, brighter, and more vibrant.

Exfoliate three or four times a week using a gentle exfoliation product that includes natural ingredients such as milk, oatmeal, and fruit enzymes.

2. Deep moisturize. During cold weather your regular moisturizer may not be enough to replenish nutrients and moisture into the skin. Select a light moisturizer that contains active ingredients such as vitamins C and E, grapeseed extract, hyaluronic acid, apricot kernel oil, almond oil, and aloe vera. These active ingredients penetrate the skin’ssurface to seal in moisture and provide anti-aging benefits.

Avoid using moisturizers that contain harsh cosmetic chemicals such as mineral oil, propylene glycol, and artificial fragrances. They can cause the skin to become dry and irritated.

3. Detoxify. Incorporate facial steaming into your weekly routine once or twice a week. This can be done at home, at a spa during a facial treatment, or simply by sitting in a steam room for a few minutes at your local health club.

Steaming helps to remove impurities from the skin caused from environmental exposure and leaves the skin looking and feeling more youthful.

Follow this skin care routine and your skin will look its best all year around.


Low-carb diets: Are you getting enough fibre?

Q: My father is on a low-carb diet, and I’m afraid he’s not getting enough fibre. How can he be sure to get the right amount?

A: Joey Shulman, DC, RNCP: You’re right to be concerned about your father’s deficient intake of fibre. Most people get their fibre from whole grains in breads, pastas, and cereals, which are restricted on a low-carbohydrate diet. By staying away from those foods he may not be consuming the 20 to 35 grams of the recommended daily intake of fibre. Your father needs fibre in his diet to protect against colon cancer, heart disease, constipation, and diverticulosis.

It is possible for low-carb dieters to obtain sufficient fibre while eliminating grain products. Have your father choose fibre sources that are rated low on the glycemic index (GI). High-fibre foods with a low GI rating break down slowly during digestion and nutrients trickle into the bloodstream. They therefore do not stimulate over secretion of the hormone insulin (excess insulin equals excess fat).

Optimal low GI fibre sources include ground flaxseed, psyllium husks, legumes, and vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, and celery (if permitted on the diet). Fruits and whole grains are also wonderful sources of fibre but are typically not permitted on a carbohydrate-restricted diet.

In addition to food sources, have your father visit his local health food store and request a fibre supplement that can be added to water or juice daily.

Other high-fibre, low-GI foods

Vegetables:
Artichokes
Asparagus
Peppers
Tomatoes
Onions

Nuts and seeds:
Almonds
Walnuts
Peanuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds


Fortify your immunity and avoid the flu

Q: Although my mother gets a flu shot each year she usually comes down with the flu anyway. This year she has decided to try and stay healthy without a flu shot. Can you please tell her about natural flu fighters?

A: Vincent Zicarelli, RDN: The first step to improving your mother’s immune function to ward off viruses is to optimize her daily diet. Any inadequacies in nutrient intake could potentially depress her immune system. Ensure that she consumes a diet rich in whole foods, including a variety of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, meat, fish, and poultry.

Encourage your mother to eat enough high-quality protein. Seniors along with many other adults often don’t get enough protein in their daily diet, directly affecting their production of white blood cells.

Offer a well-balanced daily multivitamin and mineral supplement and an essential fat supplement to act as insurance and fill in any nutritional gaps that may compromise her immunity.

If your mother does contract the flu, at first sign of symptoms, offer echinacea. Double-blind placebo controlled clinical studies conducted by Dr. Tapan Basu at the University of Alberta have found that a standardized extract of echinacea purpurea stimulates the non-specific immune system to ward off flu symptoms. Although echinacea has traditionally been used to treat and prevent viral infections, the form used in this study was standardized to contain the three key actives known to stimulate immune cells: cichoric acid, alkylamides, and polysaccharides. Other studies that failed to show benefit with echinacea typically used extracts or powders missing these three actives.

Along with your mother’s high immunity levels delivered by a healthy diet, echinacea may dramatically reduce her flu symptoms and duration.

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