By Debra Jaliman, MD
Tired of that gray cast to your complexion? Want to improve your skin tone? The answer may lie in your local farmers’ market.
We all know that eating fruits and vegetables benefits our health. Now a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health appears to show that eating more fresh veggies and fruits can change the appearance of the skin in just a matter of weeks. British researchers found that adding two extra portions of fruits and vegetables a day for six weeks led to a golden healthy glow, a perceptible improvement seen in participants of all ethnicities.
There’s no doubt that what we eat dramatically impacts our health and appearance. The carotenoids and other flavonoids in fruits and vegetables really can make a difference in the skin. Now that spring is around the corner, it would be a good idea to go to the local greenmarket and start buying fresh produce, organic if possible. Frozen organic fruits and vegetables are an excellent alternative. Use them to make smoothies with water and honey for a quick and refreshing way of getting your daily dose of carotenoids.
Speaking of honey, researchers are increasingly studying its use in wound care. All honey has antibacterial properties, but manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia can be exceptionally healing, depending on its origin and processing. For those who have never tried it, manuka honey is dark and has a strong, distinctive taste that can take some getting used to. Antibacterial activity is measured in an index called the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). The higher the UMF, the more effective the honey is supposed to be – and also the more expensive, because pure manuka honey is always pricey. I recommend a manuka honey with a UMF of 16 or higher.
High UMF manuka honey works both to prevent skin infections and to clear chronic skin infections. A recent study showed that it is effective on streptococcus, pseudomonas, and staphylococcus bacteria, even on antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. There are even manuka honey bandages on the market.
I’ve become a big fan of manuka honey. Last year I had a patient with a bad staph skin infection and open wounds all over her body. I tried everything, including the usual antibiotics, and nothing seemed to work. Finally I ordered gauze impregnated with manuka honey and had her use them every day. In two weeks, her infection had cleared up with no scarring.
So it may be worth keeping a jar of UMF 16 manuka honey in your cupboard. Like all honey, it will keep indefinitely, so what do you have to lose?
Bottom line: Fruits, vegetables, and manuka honey can all be powerful allies to your skin.