Hey, guys. Have you ever noticed how sometimes the simplest things can provide the biggest rewards? Take a humble bowl of oatmeal, for example. Oats are one of my favorite winter breakfasts, are used to feed animals and also happen to be one of the most ‘WOWsome’ whole foods on the planet! My family and I love oats and oatmeal for all their health and skin care benefits (and I’ll be sharing my secrets with you later, with a recipe too), but what makes them so special?
The key to oats’ healthy power comes from a particular type of soluble fiber that it’s got LOTS of – beta-glucan. Before I get into the many, many health benefits of beta-glucan fiber, let me quickly explain the basics of how it interacts with the body: Like all soluble fiber, beta-glucan partially dissolves in water, creating a thick, gel-like substance in your gut. It’s here that the magic happens!
- The leading cause of death across the globe last year was heart disease. In fact, heart disease has been the number one global killer for the past 15 years! Obviously, high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors leading to heart disease, and studies have shown that the beta-glucan fiber in oats can significantly reduce the total and LDL cholesterol levels in adults
- Another significant factor in heart disease development is the oxidation of LDL (or, ‘bad’) cholesterol. This interaction with free radicals damages tissue and causes inflammation in arteries. This study from Tufts University, reports that antioxidants in oats work with vitamin C to prevent this harmful oxidation. So mix your oats with strawberries, which pack more vitamin C than an orange, to reap the synergistic benefits of this combo.
- We’ve all gone through a ‘sugar crash’ after a big meal and especially after a sugary breakfast. This mid-morning slump is less likely to happen if you have oatmeal, and once again, it’s all thanks to beta-glucan! Oatmeal has a low glycemic index, which means sugar is slowly released into your bloodstream due to the high soluble fiber content – the result? Your blood sugar level is more stable. As well as keeping your energy levels up, it can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
- NOTE! Use rolled or steel-cut whole oats. Making porridge with rolled or steel-cut oats is more healthy than processed packaged oatmeals you find off the counter or in fast food restaurants, which not only have a higher glycemic index, but also contain added sugars and preservatives. Avoid quick cooking oats that also have a higher glycemic index and lower nutritional value. And if you are not a big fan of oats, but want the fiber to keep things moving, eat more fibrous fruit and vegetables and add a teaspoon of a good quality dietary fiber supplement.
- My favorite oat recipe is Age Defying muesli! Make this the night before to save time in the morning.
- Not everyone agrees about the health benefits of oats. There is evidence that the phytic acid in oats may prohibit the absorption of key minerals making nutrients less bioavailable. Plus, although oats are gluten-free they are often cross contaminated, which may be a problem for gluten sensitive bodies. So, if you are going to eat oats, best to get certified gluten-free.
- I really want to tell you my best-loved skin care tips involving oatmeal, but let me just highlight one more benefit of beta-glucan – It can help you lose weight! Beta-glucan promotes the release of peptide YY, a satiety hormone that is produced in response to eating, and has been connected to reduced calorie intake!
Oats and Skin Care – Face Food!
Okay, I promised to share some of my top skin care tips involving oats, and here we go…
While the beta-glucan found in oats does the hard work of making you feel fantastic, other ingredients are helping you to look fabulous. If you examine the contents of some face scrubs and cleansers, you’ll find they contain oatmeal – that’s because oats are filled with natural cleansers called saponins that are great at gently removing dirt and oil from your pores!
Oatmeal is especially good for sensitive skin. This is because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to soothe and hydrate. Studies have shown that colloidal (very finely ground) oatmeal gives the skin a protective barrier, as well as holding moisture against the skin. The fats in oatmeal also do a mighty good job at softening and soothing skin.
However, it’s not just sensitive skin sufferers who will benefit from a 15-minute soak in an oatmeal bath. Harsh winter winds and oppressive indoor heating can leave anybody’s skin feeling battered and stressed. I love adding half a cup of colloidal oatmeal, as well as a few drops of lavender essential oil (antioxidant and antibacterial – amazing!) to my bath. You’ll emerge feeling relaxed and super rejuvenated.
Even babies can benefit from oatmeal. Their sensitive skin loses hydration faster than adult skin, so needs extra special attention. You can create your own oatmeal baby bath soak using just plain oats. Blend 1 cup of whole steel cut oats in a blender until it becomes fine powder. Sprinkle the blend into the bath and swirl. If you can’t be bothered to blend or ran out of oats, then keep stock of gentle baby friendly products using oats.
Even Skin Tone
Step forward yet another beneficial ingredient found in mighty oats – avenanthramides. Don’t worry; you don’t have to be able to pronounce it in order to reap the benefits of this antioxidant compound! Avenanthramides aren’t found in other plant sources and are the main ingredient responsible for reducing skin redness, especially as a result of over-exposure to UV rays from the Sun.
As well as the calming nature of oats, oatmeal is a natural way to even skin tone because of its gentle exfoliating properties – excellent at removing dead cells to reveal the bright and gorgeous skin underneath!
- Zora’s Skin Care Secret: Mix a paste of colloidal oatmeal (just blend 1 cup oats in a blender until powder) and honey and apply this to your face. Leave it for a few minutes before rubbing it in with your fingers. Make sure to wash all the remaining paste off. Talk about face food!