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Do dry eyes and skin signal you may need an oil change?

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Sometimes you may need an oil change. Numerous health care professionals could tell you that when your skin dries out, including inside your throat and down into your stomach, it's an autoimmune disease. But if you're cutting down the inflammation, your immune system may not have to turn on itself in defense.

What you need to do is to ask your doctor to look at what fatty acids, what oils and fats are going into your body and what is being absorbed, if any. Then ask why you're not absorbing your oils/fats. Do you have so few digestive enzymes left that your food is left to rot in your gut? And can digestive enzymes help, but which ones?

Some nutritionists may tell their clients with dry skin, dry hair, and dry eyes to find out why their body is not absorbing enough oils. Could it be a lack of digestive enzymes due to aging or other causes? If you need to take digestive enzymes in order to absorb the oils and fats from your diet, look into this issue. You may wish to check out the medical article, "Nutrient intake in women with primary and secondary Sjogren's syndrome," European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 57:328-34, 2003. All this information about medical studies on dry eyes syndrome as possibly related to nutritional imbalances is listed on page 6 of the Total Wellness newsletter, August 2010. Here are some questions to ask your health care professionals if you think it's time to change your diet.

Perhaps you need a better balance of the omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 oils working together to control inflammation in your eyes and anywhere else in your body. If you look at the medical article discussing Sjogren's Syndrome, the symptoms are severe, going beyond just dry eyes

Ask your doctor whether a little flax, hemp, or cod liver oil might be of help. If you're doctor doesn't know, ask a nutritionist, a registered dietitian or the equivalent, trained in metabolic nutrition. The ideal would be to consult an M.D. or D.O. with a nutrition background. Some people have a deficiency of GLA (gamma linolenic acid, which is an omega 6 oil.

Why you need to talk to your doctor is to find out why your body isn't converting EPA to DHA, if that's the case. Then you'd be better off taking a DHA oil, such as a fish oil high in DHA. There's another nutrition imbalance possibility. You could have a zinc deficiency. But too much zinc will wash out the copper, and cause more problems. That's why balance is a must.

Enzymes convert fatty acids

Why you need to talk to your doctor is to find out why your body isn't converting EPA to DHA, if that's the case. Then you'd be better off taking a DHA oil, such as a fish oil high in DHA. There's another nutrition imbalance possibility. You could have a zinc deficiency. But too much zinc will wash out the copper, and cause more problems. That's why balance is a must.

Let's look at biochemistry for a moment. Your body has enzymes. One enzyme converts fatty acids. And that one enzyme needs the correct amount of zinc. That enzyme depends on you having enough zinc, but not too much. But if you're taking lots of medicines for chronic conditions, perhaps those drugs are washing out the zinc in your body. But you need the zinc to convert your fatty acids. You have to have, again, a balance. Ask your doctor and/or nutritionist this question: "What's going to move those fatty acids in or out of your cells?"

Can drinking a spoonful of monosaturated extra virgin olive oil or purified fish oil with a balance of DHA and EPA help people with dry eyes?

You might check out some of Sacramento's holistic wellness offerings. For example, there are classes in Sacramento at various locations in chi kung, Tai Chi, natural cosmetics, breathing for health, mama bootcamp, herbs for wellness, eurythmy for healing (an expressive, harmonious body movement), lunchtime meditation, creative visualization, living with intention, health health and cholesterol discussions as related to diet, a women's guide to ritual, eating for energy, and natural eyesight without glasses. All these holistic health classes are given at a wide variety of locations, sometimes listed under the "Holistic Wellness" title.

One holistic health practice that has noted several studies is the effects of monosaturated fatty acids, such as extra virgin cold pressed olive oil on patients with dry eyes. Let's examine some of these studies

You might want to show your doctor the study, for example, "Relation between dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and clinically diagnosed dry eye syndrome in women." American Journal of Physical Nutrition, 82:887-93, 2005. You might also show your doctor Dr. Ray Sahelian's article, "Dry Eyes natural treatment, vitamins, herbs, supplements, fish oil or krill oil." According to Dr. Sahelian, "The eye depends on a constant flow of tears to maintain lubrication and comfort. When the eye becomes dry, this can be a source of irritation."

Did you ever wonder whether the holistic practice of drinking a small spoonful of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil (monosaturated oil) can help your dry eyes? You see lots of ads on TV for medicines that help dry eyes, for example, artificial tears. But sometimes nutritionists wonder whether dry eyes might have a basis linked to a nutritional deficiency. If you and your health care team discuss what might be some causes, but not all, for having dry eyes, you might suggest to your doctor that it could be too high a level of omega-6 fatty acids.

If you are eating lots of vegetable oils such as soybean oil, or even animal fats such as butter, or a variety of seed oils (not flax oil) you could have an excess of omega 6 fatty acids from a variety of vegetable oils. So look through your kitchen cabinet to see what excess oils you might be eating.

You also could be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, krill oil, calamari/calamarine oil, or even flaxseed oil. Maybe you're eating olive oil or grape seed oil or even rice bran oil. What you need to do is find out whether any excess oils you're taking are creating or not creating an imbalance of Omega 6 oils. You may need to have a balance your omega 3, 6, 7, and 9 fatty acids from the various oils you eat. So check with your health care team or a nutritionist.

Could your eyes be deficient in fatty acids?

As your doctor or nutritionist, "Can these eyes be deficient in certain fatty acids? If so, which fatty acids?" Would DHA and a balance between zinc and copper in your diet help? That's the kind of questions people need to ask doctors and nutritionists. Wouldn't it be great if all doctors first had to take more courses in nutrition?

Could you be deficient in DHA or taking too much EPA and not enough DHA? You need to keep a balance. If you wade through the various medical articles and nutritional studies, what you'll find is that people with higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids tend to have more than twice the amount of dry eyes, called dry eye syndrome.

Do you need an oil change?

So check your oils and see whether your dry eyes might have a nutritional issue as a possible cause. Since so many doctors aren't communicating with nutritionists, perhaps your doctor may not have read that particular study. But if you show your doctor the medical study that says that there's a "68 percent lower prevalence of dry eyes in patients with higher levels of omega-3 oils."

Check out the list of natural, nutritional solutions to the problem of dry eyes at Dr. Sahelian's site. Although dry eyes might have numerous causes, maybe one of those causes could have a basis in nutritional imbalance or deficiency.

Dry eyes?

According to Dr. Sahelian's site, "Dry eye syndrome is a common and often painful condition that can cause damage to the cornea and harm vision. People who wear contact lenses often suffer from dry eye syndrome, as do many of those who undergo laser procedures to correct their vision. Women going through menopause also frequently develop this condition."

There might be another deficiency in dry eye syndrome--a lack of enough GLA. You'll find GLA in extra virgin olive oil and some other types of vegetable-based oils. See the article, "Systemic linoleic acid and gamma linolenic aid therapy in dry eyes syndrome with an inflammatory component." It's published in Prostaglandins Leukotrienes Essental Fatty Acids, 59:239-45, 1998. See the article, Gamma Linolenic Acid in Dry Eye. That's why it's a good idea to have a health professional find out whether you have a deficiency of a particular nutrient or fatty acid/oil.

So when your doctor hands you a prescription of drugs for your dry eyes, you could think about whether a quick pill fix is a band aid over your symptom or perhaps the real cause might be a nutritional imbalance. But of course, this is looking at the root cause from the viewpoint of nutritional balance as a goal.

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