Unveiling the Skin Benefits of eating Fish: A Traditional Persian Medicine Perspective

Skin Care

For centuries, Traditional Persian Medicine (TPM) has emphasised the connection between diet and well-being. It acknowledges the impact of food on our internal and external health, including the skin, our body’s largest organ[1]. Fish holds a special place in TPM dietary recommendations due to its unique composition, which nourishes the skin.

Unveiling the Wisdom: Fish and its Skin-Friendly Properties

Traditional Persian Medicine categorises food based on its temperament[1]  (hararat, wubat, and balgam) and its effects on the body. Fish generally possess a slightly cold and moist temperament, ideal for balancing Choleric’s like myself! which is the temperament associated with heat and dryness in the body. When there is an imbalance of heat and dryness, it can manifest on the skin as acne, rashes, and inflammation.

Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids[2], particularly EPA and DHA. These polyunsaturated fats are crucial for maintaining the skin’s barrier function, keeping it hydrated and plump. Omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated skin and promote healing.

Here’s a closer look at some of the specific benefits fish offers for the skin, according to TPM principles:

  • Combats Dryness: Fish is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing skin tissues. It also contains healthy fats that help retain moisture, keeping the skin supple and hydrated.
  • Reduces Inflammation: As mentioned earlier, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish have anti-inflammatory properties. This can be beneficial for conditions like eczema and psoriasis, which are characterised by inflamed and irritated skin.
  • Promotes Healing: Fish is a good source of zinc, a mineral essential for wound healing. It also helps in collagen production, providing structural support to the skin and keeping it youthful.
  • Rich in Vitamins: Fish is a powerhouse of vitamins essential for healthy skin. Vitamin A promotes cell turnover and keeps the skin looking radiant. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/your-skin-is-a-superhero-how-to-support-your-bodys-biggest-organ#:~:text=When%20you%20think%20of%20organs,organisms%20and%20regulating%20body%20temperature.

[2] https://www.tibb.co.za/articles/Tibb%20and%20Dietotherapy%20basics.pdf

[2] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/omega-6-fatty-acids

Choosing the Right Fish for your Temperament

Traditional Persian Medicine emphasises consuming foods based on your individual temperament. Here’s a guide to choosing the best fish for you:

  • Hot and Dry Dominant:Opt for fish with a slightly cooler temperament, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. These fish are rich in omega-3s and can help balance excess pitta, reducing inflammation and promoting a healthy glow.
  • Cold and Moist Dominant: Choose fish that are lighter and less oily, such as cod, haddock, and sole. These fish are easier to digest and won’t aggravate your tendency towards sluggishness.
  • Cold and Dry Dominant: Prioritise fish that are naturally moist and slightly heavier, such as salmon, trout, and herring. These fish can help ground your dry and airy nature and nourish the skin.

A Recipe for Radiant Skin: Baked Salmon with Lemon and Herbs

This recipe incorporates salmon, a fish rich in omega-3s and suitable for most temperaments. Baking preserves the nutrients and creates a flavourful dish that’s kind to your skin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets (around 6 oz each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels. Brush them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the lemon slices on the prepared baking sheet. Place the salmon fillets on top of the lemon slices.
  4. In a small bowl, combine garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Sprinkle the herb mixture over the salmon.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
  6. Serve immediately with roasted vegetables or a side salad for a complete and nutritious meal.

Tips:

  • You can add herbs of your choice, such as dill or parsley, for additional flavour.
  • Drizzle the salmon with a little honey before baking for a touch of sweetness.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Conclusion

In conclusion, incorporating fish into your diet from the perspective of Traditional Persian Medicine can offer a range of benefits for skin health. Whether it’s the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, the vitamin E in mackerel, or the vitamin D in sardines, the diverse properties of different types of fish can contribute to maintaining healthy and radiant skin. Personally, by incorporating Traditional Persian Medicine’s approach to dietary balance and including skin-boosting fish dishes like Grilled Lemon Garlic Salmon, I feel like I’ve taken proactive steps towards achieving optimal skin health through the power of natural, wholesome foods.

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