One of the first things I discuss with new skincare patients at the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine are the benefits of eating a high-fat diet.
I can see from the condition of their skin whether they do or not. Unfortunately, like most people in the US, many of my patients have been fed the “big fat lie.” And it shows up on their skin.
Eating a low-fat diet causes dry, dull, flaky skin that leads to wrinkles, sagging – and even adult acne. But, when my patients start to add good fats to their diet, something unexpected happens to them. They suddenly have tons more energy. At the same time, they stop having cravings and start to lose weight.
But, the biggest surprise for most of them is how much younger their skin looks.
Their skin feels less dry. It looks firmer and smoother. And it has fewer lines and wrinkles.
I’ve seen the same effects in traditional cultures in Peru, Brazil, and Africa. Saturated fats and tropical oils are a major part of their diet. Middle-aged women look like they’re in their 20s.
And studies confirm what I’ve observed.
- In Japan, researchers examined the faces of 716 women. Those who ate more fat had much better skin elasticity. Women who ate more saturated fats also had fewer wrinkles.1
- A French study examined almost 3,000 people. Those eating more fat had a much lower risk of skin damage from the sun.2
- And U.S. researchers examined skin aging in 4,025 women. Those who ate more of just one healthy fat had a lower risk of developing dry, wrinkled, or sagging skin.3
There are a lot of healthy fats you can choose from. But my favorites are DHA and EPA from calamari oil. These important omega-3s help rejuvenate your skin in three ways.
- Fights wrinkles by protecting the skin barrier. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin. This barrier is key to dewy, healthy skin. When it loses its ability to hold water and moisture, your skin gets dull, dry, flaky, and wrinkled. But, adding fatty acids to your diet increases skin hydration. Omega-3s help seal in moisture. In one study, women who added omega-3s to their diet had a 39% increase in skin hydration after just three months.4
- Guards against sun damage. While 20 minutes of vitamin D-rich sun is good for you, too much causes photoaging at the DNA level. But DHA and EPA reduce your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.5 In one study, volunteers who added 4 grams of EPA for 12 weeks reduced their likelihood of getting a sunburn by a whopping 136%. The placebo group had no significant protection.6
- Helps protect the gut-skin axis. A diet high in processed sugar and carbs alters your gut microbiome, causing tiny holes to form in the gut lining. This lining is the protective barrier that acts like a gatekeeper. When this gatekeeper is weak, bad bacteria and their toxic byproducts enter the bloodstream – and your skin – leading to breakouts.
But omega-3s increase a kind of good bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These protective molecules strengthen the gut lining, and keep toxins away from your skin.7
Omega-3 fats are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes. Try eating three or four servings a week of cold-water fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies.
But it’s hard to get what you need from food alone. I tell my patients to get at least 600 mg of DHA and 400 mg of EPA from calamari and krill oil every day. And make sure you take them with meals so these omega-3 fats can be digested properly.
Nourish Your Face To Look Young Again
- First, feast on fats for younger-looking skin. To get more omega-3s in your meals, try eating three or four servings a week of cold-water fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Other sources of good fats include grass-fed beef and dairy, pastured eggs, olive oil, walnuts, avocados, and coconut oil.
- Then add this unique calamari oil. Calamari, or squid, has one of the highest concentrations of DHA than any oil. Make sure your calamari oil comes from squid that live off the coast of South America in the pure waters of the South Pacific. After the oil is distilled, it has more than 65% DHA4 — the highest concentration of DHA I’ve found yet.
- Finally, combine it with krill oil. Squid oil is even better when it’s combined with krill oil. The DHA in krill oil can penetrate into nearly every cell in your body. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research compared fish oil, krill oil, and olive oil to see which is better absorbed. Those individuals taking olive oil had a 2.9% increase in omega-3. But the other group who took krill oil saw their omega-3s skyrocket by 178%.8
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Nagata C et al. “Association of dietary fat, vegetables and antioxidant micronutrients with skin ageing in Japanese women.” Br J Nutr. 2010;103(10):1493-8.
2. Latreille J et al. “Dietary monounsaturated fatty acids intake and risk of skin photoaging.” PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44490.
3. Cosgrove M, et al. “Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women.” Am J Clin Nutr October 2007 vol. 86 no. 4 1225-123.
4. Neukam K, et al. “Supplementation of flaxseed oil diminishes skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition.” Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2011;24(2):67-74.
5. Pilkington S, et al. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: photoprotective macronutrients.” Exp Dermatol. 2011 Jul;20(7):537-43.
6. Rhodes L, et al. “Effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, on UVR-related cancer risk in humans. An assessment of early genotoxic markers.” Carcinogenesis. 2003 May;24(5):919-25.
7. Balfego M, et al. “Effects of sardine enriched diet on…gut microbiota in drug naïve patients with diabetes.” Lipids Health Dis. 2016;15:78.
8. Puglia C, et al. “In vitro percutaneous absorption studies and in vivo evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential fatty acids (EFA) from fish oil extracts.” Int J Pharm. 2005 Aug 11;299(1-2):41-8.