Saturday, October 9, 2021

Addressing Dryness Symptoms Through Diet

by Parisa Wang, Nutritionist

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dryness has root causes that are based on internal imbalances and weaknesses of specific organs. Dryness can also occur when the flow of blood and Qi (energy) within the body are blocked. A combination of dietary and lifestyle changes may help improve dryness by strengthening organs and dispelling pathogenic factors. 

Tips for staying hydrated

Some people have a higher propensity to become more dry than others, and their first reaction is to drink more water. In fact, drinking water can sometimes be part of the problem as water can quickly pass through the digestive tract, enter the blood and be excreted from the kidneys. The time to moisturize the throat and digestive tract mucosa is very short with simply drinking water. The internal organs and structures of the body are more efficiently hydrated through specific foods, such as: 
  • Selected carbohydrates  Some carbohydrates absorb a lot of water molecules, delay the absorption of water, and prevent the water from being excreted too quickly. In this way, there is more time for the mucous membrane of the digestive tract to become moisturized and hydrated. Good choices include: avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes, millet, flaxseeds and soybeans.  
  • Foods rich in fructose: A tea made with fructose-rich honey and warm water, when swallowed slowly can moisture your throat and will also make it feel more comfortable. Some fruits contain a lot of fructose and are hydrating, especially if consumed raw or boiled in water (i.e., applesauce or pear sauce). Grapes, pears, apples and persimmons are rich in fructose. 
  • Foods high in polysaccharides. In addition, Tremella (white fungus) soup is rich in Tremella polysaccharides and is also a good hydrating beverage. 

Tips for getting adequate amounts of vitamin A

Vitamin A is necessary for the synthesis and repair of epithelial tissues, like mucous membranes. If the level of Vitamin A is deficient, the resistance of the skin and mucous membranes will be reduced, The mucosal function will also be decreased resulting in dry and keratinized epidermis, protruding hair follicles, rough skin to the touch and prickly hands, and even dry eyes. 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. Unfortunately, people eat very little of these foods nowadays. However, your body can produce vitamin A from carotenoids found in plants.
  • Carotene in plant foods can also be converted into vitamin A in the human body, but only orange-yellow and dark green vegetables are rich in carotene - for example, carrots, pumpkins, red sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, sweet potato leaves and other green leafy vegetables with black leaves. 

Tips for changing eating habits            

Food is a vital part of skin health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can protect various functions of the body's organs. Certain foods, drinks and other substances can contribute to dryness.

  • Salty foods: Eating too much salty foods increases water consumption. After too much salt enters the blood vessels, it will increase the osmotic pressure of the blood, causing the blood pressure to rise, but the water in the tissues will decrease, which will naturally cause dryness. When salt leaves the body, it takes away a lot of water and makes the body drier.
  • Spicy foods: Although spicy food 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 human body moisture. 
  • Barbecue foods are originally low-moisture foods, and then processed at high temperatures to remove the moisture, forming a very dry state. The protein contained in it is a hydrophilic substance, and it is very eager to take back the water lost during processing. Therefore, as soon as BBQ foods enter the mouth, the water in the oral cavity and throat mucosa will be ruthlessly taken away, making the throat and oral cavity dry. Also these BBQ foods often contain high salt content, which makes the mucous membranes worse. 
  • Sugary and baked foods: Eating a lot of sugary foods or baked goods can cause inflammation and change the thickness of the skin.
  • Dried nuts have high nutritional value, but we cannot eat a lot because they contain more salt. Be careful to choose dried nuts with less salt and eat a small handful a day. 
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol is not only harmful to the stomach and intestines, but also to the skin. In order to break down ethanol (the scientific name of alcohol), the body consumes a variety of nutrients in the body. On the second day after drinking, many people feel thirsty in their throats. This is because ethanol has a diuretic effect, which can cause the body to excrete a lot of water and result in dehydration.

Tips for changing lifestyle

Most of the time, just making small lifestyle changes can improve the dryness symptom. 
  • Sleep: Some people don’t have enough rest. In this case, the best way is to rest in time to allow the body to recover in time. The moisture of the skin will gradually return to normal, and the eyes will be able to return to their original clear and bright state. 
  • Bath: Long showers or baths and hot water remove oils from your skin. Limit bath or shower to 5 to 10 minutes and use warm water, not hot water.
  • Clothing: Natural fibres, such as cotton and silk, let your skin breathe. You should also use natural detergents to wash your clothes instead of detergents with chemicals, dyes or perfumes that can irritate the skin.

A balanced diet is the foundation to health. What is optimum varies from person to person and is dependent on your underlying conditions, your age and health status. 

If you have questions about what type of foods or nutritional plan is best for you, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you. For more information on my approach to nutrition, check out my blog on Yin Yang theory and detoxification or check out my bio on the Naturopathic Foundations website.

To book an appointment, please contact Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic at 905-940-2727.