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Entre Nous: Radiant in Ramadan
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 23 - 07 - 2013

Fasting during the month of Ramadan has a multitude of benefits. It is one of the best times to detoxify your body and lowering toxicity levels will help with breakouts and other skin-related issues. This year, Ramadan has coincided with summer, so the fasting hours are at their longest duration, going up to almost 16 hours a day. It is of utmost importance to remain hydrated during this time to retain healthy and glowing skin.
The more you ensure proper eating habits during this month, the healthier your skin will become. Follow these tips to enjoy radiant skin during Ramadan and to reap the benefits at Eid (the feast marking the end of Ramadan):
• Clean, tone, exfoliate and moisturise your skin regularly to remove dead skin caused by the lack of water intake, restore the skin's natural mineral levels and balance the skin's oil production.
• Limit cleansing the skin to twice a day, as over-washing leads to dryness. Also avoid excessive use of toners and scrubs.
• To moisturise, use creams made with vitamins, especially vitamin E.
• Try to limit your outdoor activities, especially during peak sun hours (from 11am until 4 pm).
• For working women, wear sun block over the moisturiser on all exposed areas like face, neck and hands when outdoors to avoid sunburn and skin cancer risk.
• Make sure you rehydrate after breaking your fast to give your skin better tone and texture. Water helps preserve your skin's elasticity and protects you against the early appearance of wrinkles. Drink at least eight glasses of water in addition to any other fluids.
• Minimise the intake of junk food and high-sugar desserts, such as konafa and basboosa, as they cause pimples.
• Limit the intake of large amounts of caffeine-containing beverages, especially at Sohour (the last meal before dawn and the next day's fast). They are diuretics and can potentiate dehydration.
• Try to avoid excessive salt as it worsens dehydration, causes skin to appear dry and increases the appearance of cellulite.
• Seize the opportunity to quit smoking. It causes early aging in the form of poor and blotchy skin tone, broken capillaries, collagen and elastin damage and sagging skin, in addition to other life-shortening cardiovascular problems.
Power-foods that maintain healthy skin
• Cashews are packed with healthy fibres, fatty acids and proteins, which will maintain your skin's glow.
• Dried apricots and sesame seeds are full of iron to help improve your skin tone.
• Strawberries are high in anti-oxidants, which are known for their positive effect on healthy skin, and dates are a great source of anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which all promote optimum skin health.
• Vegetables are the most important source of all essential nutrients. More vegetable consumption keeps your skin glowing and maintains good health.
• Blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C. They all help to produce collagen that strengthens the capillaries that feed the skin.
• Foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6, both essential fatty acids. You will find omega-3 in oily fish, but plant sources like linseeds and flax oil are excellent too. For omega-6, try safflower, sunflower and corn oils.
• Foods that contain sulphur, like garlic and onion, can help to keep skin smooth.
• Almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower and corn oils, which are foods rich in vitamin E.
• Zinc-rich foods, such as wheat germ, liver, pumpkin seeds, sardines and oysters, help to repair skin damage and keep it soft and supple.
• Liver, eggs, milk and oily fish, along with fortified cereals and margarines, are good sources of vitamin A that help make new collagen in skin.
• Beef, cheese, eggs and liver are the best sources of Vitamin B complex, which is vital for great skin. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is especially useful for helping skin glow.

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