Healthy skin is beautiful skin and is something we can only achieve by nourishing it from the inside out and also using only natural products. Its functions are underestimated when compared to the rest of the bodily systems but without the skin, we simply couldn’t survive.
Nutritious foods eaten consistently will begin to rebuild the cellular structure but this will take time as the skin has many layers. What you eat and drink now, will only be seen in 4 to 6 weeks time. Commit to a natural, whole foods diet and your skin will become healthy and beautiful.
1. Lemon- The clarifier
A lemon a day, juiced and sipped with water first thing in the morning or at any break is a wonderful complexion clearer. This little ritual gives your metabolism a kick start, and your liver a much needed mini cleanse and your skin a vitamin C boost. Lemons are very cleansing to the body, so they help clarify the complexion. Another great ways to include it squeezed over salad, vegetables or sliced in your jug of water, by the end of the day you have infused the lemony goodness into your drink.
2. Water- The hydrator
Water makes up around 75 to 85% of your body; it’s in every part of your body including your teeth and hair. Even though we’ve heard it all before, drinking pure water hydrates your body and skin. Keeping the cells hydrated, so they can easily uptake nutrients and remove waste.
How much to drink?
It depends on how much cooked food or dense food you eat. If you have a salad for lunch everyday and fresh fruit as a snack, this reduces your need for water. Caffeine, exercise frequency, spicy food, sugar animal foods, alcohol, and salt all increase your need for water. The warmer months also require you drink more. Allow your natural thirst to dictate how much water you need. 6 to 8 glasses a day is a good estimate.
3. Beet root- The blood cleanser
One of my favourite high-maintenance vegetables! High maintenance because it is red, juicy and will stain anything it lands on. Beetroot is a blood cleanser and has a slight laxative effect. Skin health relies on healthy blood and circulation. The healthier your blood, the healthier your skin because this is where your skin gets most of its nutrition from.
Beetroot has been a popular ingredient throughout Eastern Europe and is found in many soup and salad dishes. Claimed to be a ‘blood cleaner’ beetroot makes the perfect spring salad to accompany your lunch or evening meal. Serve with grilled meats and potato dishes.
Russian Beetroot Salad
4 medium sized beetroots
1/4 cup of lightly crushed walnuts
1/2 clove garlic, finely diced
1/2 cup organic yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 bunch dill chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
- Wash, peel and grate the beetroot in a food processor using a fine blade
- Place beetroot in a bowl, mix in walnuts and garlic gently
- In a separate bowl mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, olive oil, dill and salt/pepper to form a dressing
- Mix the dressing with the beetroot and chill in the fridge until serving
- Garnish with a sprig of parsley or anything green and sliced apples
4. Parsley- The healer
Parsley is commonly used as a garnish to main dishes. It is rich in vitamin A, C and chlorophyll. This combination is unique in that it is perfect for skin rejuvenation and healing from scars or breakouts. It also contains iron, folate, magnesium, manganese, copper and flavonoids (apiin & luteolin), which helps protect against the effects of free radical damage. So much nutrition in such a small plant, it’s very popular in the Middle East, where tabouli is a common salad dish.
This is a very fresh, cleansing and simple tabouli. Perfect to accompany a heavier meal, in a wrap or on its own. Almonds are used as a wheat alternative and because they complement the parsley so nicely, adding a mild crunch and the essential fatty acids so important for skin health. This recipe is great for people with acne because it heals and cleanses the digestive system. If you’re not a parsley fan or can only handle a small amount, just add this recipe as a garnish to your meals. You’ll still be getting some benefits.
2 cups of chopped parsley (continental or curly)
1 cup of finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup of fresh mint chopped
1/2 cup of finely diced onion
1/4 cup of chopped cucumber
1/4 cup of chopped tomatoes (or cherry tomato cut in halves)
1 avocado sliced
Lemon juice, salt and pepper
- Very simple, prepare the ingredients chop and process as needed then mix.
- Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.
- Garnish with the avocado.
5. Brown rice- The digestive broom
This staple in Asian countries has become a popular grain in the West. The great thing about rice is how low allergenic it is because it contains no gluten. I prefer brown rice because of its taste and the way it feels after I eat it but it is also amazing for the digestive system. Brown rice is a good comfort food and excellent tummy filler on a cold day. It’s also a good “broom” for the digestive tract and it is high in silica, one of the minerals important for skin health and beauty. Silica is present in high amounts in youth and decreases as we age. The ratio of silicon to calcium is a biological marker of youth. The best ways to include brown rice into your diet is by using it as a white rice replacement. Alicia Silverstone in The Kind Diet suggests making a big pot of it and adds it to every meal, lunches and dinners. It’s stabilizing and good tummy filler, a great way to wean you off the pasta or wheat products.
6. Green tea- The anti-ager
This cleansing hot beverage is packed with pure goodness. It benefits the skin because it contains high antioxidant levels, called polyphenols. A diet high in antioxidants is helpful for reducing premature anti-aging because it can prevent excessive free radical damage. If the Japanese can maintain beautiful skin like they do right up until old age then they must be onto something. I’m speaking of the Japanese that maintain traditional dietary methods with a pot of green tea on-the-go, and enjoyed throughout the day.
Green tea does contain caffeine, some variety’s more than others at approximately 30 to 50mg per cup. A regular cup of coffee contains around 95mg. Some people are sensitive to caffeine, while others tolerate it well. Be cautious with caffeine if you are under long term stress conditions or have adrenal exhaustion.
How to brew the perfect cup of green tea…
- Always use loose leaf, organic green tea.
- Use a ceramic pot (available from Asian marts) or a plunger.
- 1 tablespoon per cup of water, increase or decrease according to taste preferences.
- Use water that is just under boiling point, not to burn the tea.
- Enjoy on its own or add lemon and honey. Can be chilled to make a base for iced tea, packed full of antioxidants.
7. Avocado- The moisturizer
Unheated oils are good for the skin, especially the ones from the vegetable kingdom. Technically, avocado is a fatty fruit. It contains high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids, which is not fattening because the oils are easily used by the body for energy. They also contain lecithin; which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels. The skin needs “good” fats to moisturize the skin from the inside out. Its useless slapping on moisturizers when your diet is lacking in the oils it needs to moisturize the skin from the inside out. Cutting back on the good stuff will only make your skin look less than sparkling. I like avocado because it’s easy to eat, just add it to salad or make a dip and you have eaten some nutrient dense essential fatty acids.
8. Goji berries- The glow berry
Goji berries have been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years to improve Qi (life force) and nourish the Yin and blood. These berries grow well in harsh climates, giving it strengthening and “tonifying” properties. They taste delicious either fresh, dried or rehydrated (just place in water and they plump up in 10 minutes). They have been recorded as being a complete protein source; contain carotenoids, lutein (antioxidant), vitamin C, B’s and E. The glow is from the beta-carotene, to which our bodies convert into vitamin A. As mentioned earlier Vitamin A is a skin healer but it’s the high amount of beta-carotene (antioxidant) that gives your skin more colour, more of a golden glow especially if you allow a little gentle sun exposure during the warmer months. Betacarotene won’t turn you orange and it won’t poison you but will build up gently in the skin giving you more colour to your complexion.
9. Almonds- The ancient beauty secret
In no other culture was beauty and body care so important than to the Egyptians. Cleopatra was said to have recorded a book of beauty secrets she perfected. Almonds were one of the most commonly used cosmetic ingredients. Besides its external benefits (sweet almond oil makes gorgeous body oil) almonds eaten everyday will help keep your skin clear and healthy. The raw nut is alkaline and contains monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and is a high protein food. Almonds contain magnesium, which promotes blood flow and aids the nervous system and calcium. Just a handful of almonds a day will be good for your skin and in time you will notice the difference.
10. Seaweed- The mineralizer
Have you ever noticed how youthful Japanese skin is? I’ve seen Japanese grandmothers with skin that is truly timeless. Along with the daily green tea, the Japanese eat sea vegetables, a totally different food group that deserves more attention. Seaweeds are high in minerals, absorbed from the ocean. Iodine (important for the thyroid health), magnesium, iron, calcium, sodium and now a very good food to help detox heavy metals from the body due to high levels of alginic acid, which bind with any heavy metals in the intestines. Minerals are important for maintaining proper hydration levels, nervous system function and healthiest blood type composition. The detox effect helps keep you squeaky clean on the inside making your skin look healthy and vibrant.
Seaweeds are also a source of glyconutrients. Glyconutrients are a set of necessary monosaccharides (essential sugars) that are vital to the correct structure and function of human cells. These sugars are required by cells to perform many functions including cell protection, replication, and recognition and tissue regeneration. They help the cells “communicate” with the other cells.
The best way to include them is by enjoying nori rolls more often or wakame salad (from Sushi bars) or in supplements form. Nori, dulse, kombu/ kelp or Irish moss, wakame and arame are different types of seaweed/ algae. If you are gifted in the kitchen then soak and throw them in a mixed salad or find a good supplement from your health food shop.
Nori Rolls with cauliflower “rice”
Carrot, finely grated
Cucumber, sliced thinly
Capsicum, sliced thinly
Spring onion, sliced thinly
Cauliflower, finely chopped in the food processor
1/4 cup sesame seeds (can be toasted)
Tamari sauce, horseradish, Celtic sea salt and rice vinegar to taste
- Prepare all fillings, by either thinly slicing the ingredients or grating with the food processor
- The “rice” needs to be finely chopped in the food processor, mix in the sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and a good pinch of salt
- Using the nori paper, arrange the “rice” and fillings neatly- be cautious not to use too much or you’ll overfill the roll, leaving a mess
- Dampen the rolls with a spray bottle filled with spring water, until the sea weed is well hydrated
- Serve with soy and horseradish to taste