Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Reasons and Solutions for Dryness

by Parisa Wong, Nutritionist

For most northern regions, from winter to early spring, indoor air is particularly dry. The winds, rain and snow alternate, and the air humidity is relatively low. In this climate, many people feel dry skin, dry eyes, dry throat, and dry mouth.

Under such environmental conditions, drinking water is naturally an important thing. Instead of waiting to drink until you are thirsty, it’s better to replenish water before and between meals. However, many people say that drinking water will not solve the problem of thirst, nor will it make the skin and eyes feel more moisturized. At this time, let’s see what may cause the dryness (the disease state may cause the dryness of the body, but is not discussed here).

Do you know the signs of dehydration in your body? There are 5 signs indicating a lack of water:

  1. Urine is dark yellow
  2. Constipation is due to the intestinal absorption of excess water. Once the body is short of water, the intestines will absorb more water to replenish body fluids, resulting in dry stool.
  3. Dry mouth and swollen tongue. Thirst is the first sign of lack of water in the body. Dehydration can cause dry mouth and slight swelling of the tongue.
  4. Lack of water in the body can cause dizziness. One of the key signals is that when you stand up quickly, you will be dizzy.
  5. Exhausted. Long-term lack of water can easily cause the blood flow and blood pressure to drop, and the blood oxygen content also decreases. Without sufficient oxygen, muscle and nerve function will be weakened, and fatigue will easily occur.

If the physical discomfort is only due to insufficient water, then you need to consider to drink more water. It's possible to still be dehydrated after drinking a lot of water because it will quickly pass through the digestive tract, enter the blood, and then be discharged from the kidneys, moisturizing the throat and digestive tract mucosa only for a short time. In comparison, water with a small amount of fructose (such as organic honey) is much better. It has a higher affinity for water than glucose and sucrose. Add a bit of organic honey to warm water with a minimal sweet taste, and make its osmotic pressure relatively low, which is a good hydrating drink. Even if you feel very thirsty when drinking this light honey water and swallowing slowly will make you feel more comfortable, and the thirst of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat will be relieved. 

In the small molecule of fructose, the larger molecule has better effect. The natural plant gum contained in some foods bind a large number of water molecules in the aqueous solution and form a state of high viscosity. For example, Tremella Soup, which contains Tremella polysaccharides; Oats contains beta-glucan; There is a kind of saponified rice, which is the inner membrane of the pod, which is rich in plant gum and is especially sticky when cooked. This is also the principle. These sticky soups keep moisture on the mucous membranes for a long time, and the throat and digestive tract feel very moisturized. At the same time, because they cannot be digested by the human body, they can bring water into the large intestine all the time, so that the stool can also increase moisture, become softer and avoid dryness.

The second reason for dryness is improper diet, eating too much spicy, salty, processed and dried food, which increases water consumption. We all know that salt has a strong water absorption effect, and water will be produced when food is pickled with salt. In fact, our body is the same. If the taste of the dishes is too strong, or the intake of processed foods containing sodium is too much, after the salt enters the blood vessels, it will increase the osmotic pressure of the blood, so the water molecules in the tissue will be attracted by it and enter the blood vessels. As a result, blood volume increases, blood pressure rises, but the water in the tissues decreases, which naturally causes dryness. The kidneys then try to excrete salt from the urine to keep blood volume and osmolality back to normal. But when salt leaves the body, it takes a lot of water away, making the body drier, and at the same time increasing the burden on the kidneys.

Although hot pepper does not increase the osmotic pressure of human blood, it will speed up blood circulation in the skin, heat the body and increase sweating. This will also lose body moisture.

The third cause of dryness is insufficient vitamin A. This is because vitamin A is necessary for the synthesis and repair of epithelial tissue. If it is severely insufficient, the resistance of the skin and mucous membranes will decrease, the mucus and sebum secreted on the surface will decrease, and the mucosal immune function will also decrease. This situation not only brings a feeling of dryness, but also reduces the resistance of the human mucosa. It is prone to various mucosal infectious diseases such as pneumonia, measles, and enteritis, which is more obvious in children.

There is another manifestation of vitamin A deficiency, called acanthosis, which is characterized by dry and keratinized epidermis, protruding hair follicles, and the skin feels rough and prickly. If your skin is particularly dry, white lines appear and the keratin is peeled off with one stroke of your nails, you may wish to consider whether there is vitamin A deficiency. If your eyes often feel dry and you don't see as clearly as before at night, most likely you are lack in vitamin A.

Speaking of dry eyes, computer and mobile phone addict are getting more popular. Many people often use all kinds of eye drops, but the effect is minimal. People don’t know that using computers and mobile phones, such as electrical appliances that change the intensity of light, or watching TV or iPAD too much, will excessively consume the body's vitamin A and make it more prone to deficiency. The typical vitamin A deficiency is night blindness and dry eye, which can cause blindness in severe cases.

In fact, it is quite easy to lack vitamin A in our diet. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that likes to coexist with cholesterol. It is found in liver, kidney, high-fat marine fish, egg yolk and cream. It's a pity that we don't eat much of these foods. We often don't dare to eat the offal and egg yolk, and we also drink skim milk. Carotene in plant foods can also be converted into vitamin A in the human body, but only orange and dark green vegetables are rich in carotene, such as carrots, pumpkins, red sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves, etc. Green leafy vegetables with dark green leaves. As long as the vegetables are cooked and eaten, they only need to be eaten with other fat-containing foods to absorb carotene. There is no need to add a lot of oil for frying, and there is no need to stew with fat.

If dry eyes have occurred, it is better to take vitamin A  or fish oil supplement while improving the diet plan. But also pay attention, it depends on the different body constitutions to determine how much vitamin A to take.

However, hydration and vitamin supplementation cannot solve everyone's problems, because there are still some people whose problem lies in lack of sleeping. Many people have the experience that if you stay up often, your body will feel irritated, and your skin and eyes will feel particularly dry. Traditional health preservation classified this situation as "internal heat." This may be because the human body is supposed to rest and sleep at night, and the body temperature decreases, but if you stay up late, the body temperature will continue to rise at night, increasing the loss of body water. Moreover, staying up late will affect the timely repair and renewal of skin and mucous membranes, and water retention will also decrease. In this case, the best measure is to rest in time. After staying up late, fall asleep early on the second and third day to allow the body to recover in time, the moisture of the skin gradually returns to normal, and the eyes can return to their original clear and bright state.

The fifth cause of dryness is insufficient water rich vegetables.  According to the Institute of Medicine, about one-fifth of our water consumption comes from food (ie fruits and vegetables). Nutrition is important for health. An unhealthy diet can damage metabolism, cause weight gain, and even damage organs, such as skin, heart and liver. There are some hydrating foods with high moisture content and can be used in conjunction with your kettle to help you maintain moisture.

There is a saying in traditional Chinese health preservation called "Five colors food into the five internal organs". It means: green into the liver, red into the heart, yellow into the spleen, white into the lungs, and black into the kidneys. Figuring out what the body needs and providing customized food list can not only improve the nutrition balance but also water absorption. At the meantime, the body will naturally adjust by itself. Therefore, obtaining sufficient essential nutrients is the key to maintaining healthy skin and allowing the body to maintain adequate water naturally.

As a nutritionist, I can assist you in figuring out how to balance your overall nutrition levels, and provide you with individualized, personalized, customized nutrition plans.

Please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.