Nourish yourself inside-out for a healthier skin – PART 1
There is so much contradicting information out there over health and nutrition that it can just be overwhelming. “Eat this for a healthy heart” and a year later it becomes “No don’t eat this, it could kill you.” The latest candidate is turmeric. A year ago this golden elixir was considered the ultimate anti-inflammatory superfood, but now the food industry wants you to believe turmeric is actually not as powerful as thought to be. Who and what to believe? This sense of being overwhelmed with inconsistent data can force some to conclude that achieving physical and mental health is just an illusion.
The same confusion exists in the world of cosmetics; there are thousands of beauty and skin care products out there (some toxic, some tested on animals), and the truly astonishing part is the amount of money we spend on them to make ourselves look better (as opposed to feel better). From lip enhancers to eye-lash extenders, if you think something is lacking on your face, there is a product to “help”. Then there is the assortment of anti-aging skincare products. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is nothing we can do to fight aging. It is part of the cycle of life. It’s a natural process and instead of fighting it, we should learn to embrace it and evolve as a person. Every age has its own proportional definition of beauty. Instead, we condition ourselves to feel shame or fear about getting older, and the term “aging” begins to have a pejorative connotation. We unknowingly allow marketing campaigns to create and take advantage of our insecurities, making our sole purpose wanting to fit society’s “beauty criteria.” Whether you are in your 20s, 40s or 60s you cannot fight aging but you have control over HOW to age—think about the last time you saw someone and thought they “aged gracefully”. This is where your nutrition, your lifestyle, and your mental and physical health play a equal roles in determining your aging process.
Nourishing yourself from the inside-out is the first key to healthy and radiant skin, and it can be achieved by being mindful of all areas of your well-being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. However for this month’s article I will be focusing on taking nutritional care of yourself as I believe nature provides mankind with the foods needed to heal our bodies.
TRUST & HONOR YOUR GUT – It is not surprising that more than 80% of our bodies’ immunity is located in our gut, so it shouldn’t be a shock if the condition of our gut flora directly impacts our health, including your skin. With a few modifications to our diet and proper movement we can re-establish healthy intestinal flora for clear and glowing skin.
- Probiotics – I know probiotics may sound like just another trend but getting probiotics – whether they are eaten naturally or taken as supplement – can be a good start. Introducing “live micro-organisms” or “good bacteria” as found in full-fat yogurt, kefir or a high-quality probiotic supplement, creates a barrier to reduce inflammation and helps the skin to function optimally. A small note on yogurt, go for full-fat (cow, goat or coconut but not soy) and plain as the fruity ones contain higher levels of sugar and other unwanted ingredients which are pro-inflammatory for the gut and skin.
- Alkaline diet – Introduce more alkaline foods. Start your day with warm water and lemon. Upon waking your body is in an acidic state getting rid of toxins, and drinking lemon water helps brings the gut back to alkaline. See the list below of alkaline foods you should incorporate into your diet (courtesy of energiseforlife.com).
- Collagen – A basic food that does wonders for your skin as it is responsible for your skin’s elasticity, hair’s strength, and connective tissue’s ability to hold everything in place. The body’s natural collagen production declines with age and many modern lifestyle factors (stress, poor diet, etc.) can further decrease the body’s collagen production ability. Collagen is readily available in high-quality gelatin or plain collagen powders. I use Vital Protein “unflavored marine collagen” or “grass fed pasture raised collagen peptides”. Just add it to your smoothies, drinks or even coffee (it’s tasteless). Soups using grass fed bone broth are a great, natural way to introduce more collagen in your diet;
Alternatively if you are up for something adventurous, you can try my “Golden Bone Broth Latté”. The recipe can be found on my Instagram page here. If you get the chance to try it, please don’t hesitate to tag me. The reviews have so far been positive.
- Movement – Fire-up digestion with breathing and movement exercises; better digestion means better nutrient absorption, meaning better circulation and lower stress. I am sharing below two yoga sequences that I love incorporating into my routine:
- A 25-minute full body yoga sequence to slowly awaken your body and your digestion:
2. A 7-minute yoga sequence for bloating, digestion, ulcerative colitis IBD & IBS
HONOR YOUR LIVER – Though not part of your digestive tract, the liver is part of your digestive system. A key player in the nutrient absorption process, your liver is the second largest and most important detoxifying organ in the body. It filters and cleanses the blood leaving the digestive track before it releases it back into our bloodstream. If your liver becomes sluggish, particularly from a poor diet, breakouts will arise as the skin is another organ of elimination. Eating heavily industrialized foods can leave you over-encumbered with toxins and pesticide residues unable to find an exit, only to recirculate into your blood. The key objective here is to support your liver, and allow it to fulfill its function. Try some of the following:
- Start your morning with half a liter of water (not cold) followed by juice from ½ lemon mixed with warm water. I mentioned its alkalinizing properties before, but it is worth noting again as this simple morning routine has tremendous health benefits as it gently awakens your digestive system and enhances detoxification.
- Drink detoxing herbal teas with nettle, dandelion and milk thistle.
- Incorporate garlic into your dishes; especially if you are having fish as it helps remove mercury and other toxic heavy metals from the nervous system. Garlic also has been shown to stimulate the liver by encouraging production of detoxification enzymes.
- Try supplementing with chlorella and spirulina as they bind with toxins in your body and help in their elimination. I would suggest starting with small doses and slowly ramping-up, or if you prefer, consult with a doctor first. Some individuals might have a mild to severe allergic reaction to either supplement.
- Eating beets or drinking beet juice is considered as fuel for the liver as they contain an array of antioxidants that help liver cells eliminate toxins.
- Include parsley and cilantro in your diet. You can add a sprig of any these herbs to your bottle of water and sip on it throughout the day.
- Your internal organs are made of muscle tissue, just like your muscles, they need to be massaged to help with blood flow and releasing tension. You can help unclog and detoxify liver by getting into a seated or lying spinal twist, like so:
(courtesy of www.yogawiz.com )
(Courtesy of www.naturalsociety.com)
ADD COLORS TO YOUR DIET – The more color you add to your plate from fruits and vegetables, the more micronutrients you will consume; micronutrients are comprised of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals that fuel your body to perform at its best.
(Golden Smoothie recipe found here )
Here are some of the colors to incorporate:
- Dark leafy greens: such as spinach, collard greens, and kale are extremely high in vitamin C, a major antioxidant that fights toxins and breakdown of collagen.
- Red: red bell peppers contain more skin-boosting vitamin C than oranges. The reason why is it crucial to focus on your vitamin C intake is because it acts as a pre-cursor to collagen production.
- Orange: carrots, squash, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, oranges, orange cabbage, persimmons and mangos are beta-carotene rich foods which means they are a significant source of selenium and the powerful anti-aging vitamin A which restores damaged collagen.
- Yellow: Pineapple is a great example to use, as it is high in vitamin C, amino acids which aids in cell and tissue repairs
- Purple/Blue: blackberries, plums, grapes, purple potato purple cabbage, raisins, figs improve skin health and help prevent wrinkles
- White: onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower offer antifungal and antibacterial benefits and are high in Vitamin C. The micronutrients present in garlic help rebuild damaged collagen. So don’t hold back on adding garlic to your meals! A little “interesting” breath now will save your bank account the crazy expenses on anti-aging products and beauty treatments.
INCLUDE FATS – No more low-fat or fat-free products. Those products usually are filled with hidden sugars and unnecessary ingredients. Fats are not the enemy; on the contrary, as mentioned in my previous blogpost “Healthy Happy Hormones”, healthy fats are crucial for balancing hormones and rebuilding cells. Skin breakouts, acne and especially adult acne could be related to fluctuations in your hormones and low intake of omega-3s which are associated with decreased inflammation. Here is a list of healthy fats to include in your diet:
- Nuts and seeds walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds all these are rich in minerals, vitamins (A, C and K) in omega-3 fatty acids and help the body retain moisture. Now keep in mind, everything should be consumed in moderation. Nuts are healthy fats but when eaten in big quantities, they can cause inflammation in the body.
- Oils from coconut, olive, walnut to avocado oil they all provide necessary building blocks for hormone production which supports a healthy and clear skin.
- Fatty fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acidshave incredible beauty benefits, including glowing skin while salmon is usually the superstar choice, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are even better. These foods also help reduce inflammation and provide essential amino acids to keep your skin firm and elastic
( Rainbow Salad )
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a holistic approach to achieving healthier skin, always remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Diets that work on abstinence and willpower are a recipe for disaster. Simply pick one or two of the above guidelines that you know you will able to commit to, and go from there.
Remember that the goal is to achieve sustainable habits for YOUR lifestyle. It’s not a competition, it’s a never-ending journey that should be experienced and enjoyed.
Honor your mind,
Honor your body,
Honor your soul.
Until the next article!