Foods for healthy skin
No matter what you put on your skin if your diet is poor your skin is not going to glow.
A healthy diet will give your skin the nutrients it needs to function correctly and stay looking healthy and youthful.
Water for skin health
Drinking sufficient water is vital for skin health as skin is hydrated from the inside out - not by the application of watery moisturisers as widely advertised. How much water you need is debatable and depends on your activity, the temperature and many other variables. 2 litres per day, at least, seems to be widely recommended. Water also helps flush out toxins.
Many aspects of our diet are hotly debated, but there is little doubt regarding vitamins and antioxidants. A diet rich in fresh vegetables lightly cooked or raw will reduce free radical damage, premature ageing and disease.
Juicing vegetables is great, mainly because we do not tend to chew sufficiently. Juicing makes the nutrients incredibly bio-available and as they are not cooked none of the nutrient is destroyed. Whilst fruit smoothies are very high in sugar and not necessarily as good as you may think, adding beetroot, carrots, spinach, chard, wheatgrass or other veggies can make that juice a super food. I’ve even heard that brussel sprouts are great in a smoothie although I haven’t tried it myself.
Grow your own
If you can grow your own even better. Much farmed veg has been grown on land that has been intensively farmed for years and the minerals in the soil will be seriously depleted. Elements like magnesium copper, selenium, zinc, iron and manganese may be lacking in a healthy looking plant.
Even if you don’t have a garden, a few herbs and living salad on your windowsill can be a really good boost to your daily nutrition and you can pick them as you need them so they are super fresh.
It's difficult to know what vitamins are in what plants (short list below), however a good rule of thumb is: if it’s rich in colour it’s good for you. Beetroot, carrots, dark leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes and blueberries. They are all bursting with vitamins and antioxidants.
So if you want to keep the colour in your cheeks, be sure to add some colour to your diet
• Red Pepper
• Sweet Potatoes
• Herbs especially Parsley, Basil & Oregano
• Dark Greens
• Dried Apricot
• Butternut Squash
• oranges and orange juice
• red and green peppers
• brussels sprouts
• Sunflower seeds
• Dark green veg
• Tropical fruits
• Olive oil
Other foods rich in antioxidants
Olive oil, cocoa, nuts, red wine, broccoli, red wine (in moderation!) and green tea. Also tofu is rich in isoflavones which are believed to prevent collagen breakdown.
Vegetarians should skip this part! These days cooking from scratch often involves an oxo cube (other brands are available - many full of monosodium glutamate). Very few of us still make stock from the bones left over after our Sunday roast. This is a shame, for one it is a waste, personally I think once you have killed an animal (or bought it from a supermarket) it's ethically better to use every bit of it possible. If you do eat meat and you don’t make stock you are missing out on the best and most economical health and anti-ageing trick.
Bone broth or stock is loaded with glycosaminoglycans(GAGs). — glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid to name but a few. What’s more, the GAGs we get from bone stock are absorbed in their intact form and are far better than any supplement you will find.
GAGs are vital to joint health and will strengthen tendons ligaments and even arteries. GAGs promote collagen production and are used directly in the skin to retain moisture (eg hyaluronic acid). It’s absolutely official, Chicken soup will keep you looking young!
Stock bolsters the liver. The liver’s capacity to detoxify is limited by the availability of the amino acid glycine – found in home made stock.
Gelatin helps heal leaky gut syndrome and other gut disorders such as IBS, colitis and even Chrohn’s disease. Leaky gut is a condition where the intestine becomes too permeable. Undigested food can escape into the bloodstream. A toxic build up can ensue (which many think is a cause of Psoriasis). These particles are seen by the immune system as invaders and attacked. Once the immune system sees a food as an invader it can cause food intolerences or even worse cause the immune system to turn on the body itself. Gelatin plugs the holes and repairs the gut. Gelatin also prevents gastrointestinal bugs from attaching themselves to the gut wall (a cause of leaky gut syndrome)
Broth is rich in so many minerals and amino acids it can replace some meat in your diet. Cooking beans or brown rice in broth or using it as a base for a soup will mean you can cut out some meat and eat a more balanced diet.
I could go on, but suffice to say making stock from bones is one of the most effective, tastiest, cheapest and most satisfying way to improve your diet.
Vegetarians should definitely skip this bit too - sorry for any disgust caused! If you weren't keen on boiling up bones, you probably wont fancy liver either, However liver and other offal are the healthiest, leanest meats you can eat and it is another good source of hyaluronic acid. Liver also contains:
• The most concentrated source of Vitamin A you can get
• All of the B vitamins, especially Vitamin B12
• Trace minerals
The only problem with liver is (in my opinion) that you really want to eat organic and it's hard to find.
The liver is the filter for toxins. Drugs used in intensive farming are sure to accumulate here. You don't see organic liver in the supermarket, but you can buy from farmers markets or direct from small, trusted or organic producers.
Essential fatty acids
A nutrient is deemed ‘Essential’ if the body cannot make it – it has to be acquired from the diet. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are a good example of this. There are two types of EFAs; Omega 6 and Omega 3.
Omega fats need to be in balance, because they compete for metabolisation inside the body. If you have too much of one you have an effective deficiency of the other. The correct dietary is debatable some say 1 : 4, (Omega 3 : Omega 6) Others say 1:1. What is generally agreed is that we (in the western world) eat far too much Omega 6.
Omega 6 oils are responsible for important inflammatory reactions. The body needs inflammation sometimes to isolate pathogens or to cushion damaged tissue. Omega 3 oils help the body reduce inflammation when the time comes. If we are lacking Omega 3’s the body’s natural inflammatory responses can run wild. This can cause cancers, heart disease, arthritis and skin disorders like Eczema and psoriasis.
Omega 3 oils have been proven to help the skins sun defences and in preventing other free radical damage. Studies have proven that supplementing Omega 3 means you will not burn as quickly in the sun. It also regulates immune reactions and is often helpful for people with auto-immune disorders such as Lupus, Sjogrens Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriasis.
Sources of Omega 3 essential fatty acids
• Oily fish
• Wild Salmon – not farmed
• Grass fed meat (eg lamb – most commercially reared beef is grain fed)
• Pumpkin seeds
• Walnut oil
• Flax oil
• Hemp oil
Sources of Omega 6 essential fatty acids
• Grain fed meat
• Most vegetable oils (especially sunflower which is in loads of processed foods)
• Sunflower seeds
• Sesame seeds
The chances are you eat more of the items in the Omega 6 list than you do from the Omega 3, especially as Omega 3's are particularly fragile and can be destroyed in the cooking process. If this is the case you may think about supplementing or balancing your diet.
The great essential fatty acid debate
There are further issues with EFAs and much debate at present. Because they are Polyunsaturated fats they are very unstable and can easily oxidise. Oxidised fats cause free radical damage. Cooking and exposure to oxygen and sunlight will cause oxidization of omega fats. They can also oxidise in your body. So although we need some, we don’t want too much, we want them in balance and we want them uncooked and fresh as far as possible.
Cooking with Polyunsaturates is now accepted as a bad thing (eg sunflower oil) Cooking with monounsaturates (such as olive oil or high oleic sunflower) is better, but there is still some oxidization and many of the beneficial compounds are destroyed. Many people will now tell you that cooking with saturates is actually much safer as they do not oxidise, even at high temperatures. Saturated fat has had a very bad name for 30 years or so, but many professionals now question this. The fats we use in our bodies to build cells and manufacture homones are mainly saturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturates, including essential fatty acids account for just 3% and a proportion of those must be omega 3.
Coconut oil and animal fats are high in saturated fat. The answer may be to reduce cooking with oils to a sensible level and use saturated fats when you do. It seems to me that everything is a matter of balance.
When you make a broth you will usually get a layer of fat that separates and sits on top. This can be removed and is an excellent source of saturated fat suitable for cooking.
Lentils and most other pulses contain collagen-boosting vitamins, protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre. Use them to bulk out casseroles and reduce your meat intake. It’s better to buy a little quality meat each week and extend it by making stock from the bones and using it in a protein rich bean stew or casserole.