Our skin is a powerful indicator of what is going on inside, particularly the liver, blood and colon. It is in fact our largest detoxifying organ. What we feed ourselves gets distributed through our bodies, effecting each and every cell, our organs and their various functions. If what we eat can make us go to the bathroom (or not), keep us trim (or not), boost our energy (or not), you can bet that it also effects every one of our other bodily processes, and skin repair is one of them! Years of consuming artificial ingredients, preservatives, additives, hormones and toxins eventually take their toll, and often the first thing to “go” is keeping our skin “glowy” and our hair shiny because frankly, the body has more important functions to focus on maintaining our beauty! But by making the load easy for the body to bear, it can work on protecting us from the signs of aging, unburdened.
What to avoid:
Dairy is the main culprit here! Dairy is highly acidic and inflammatory to the human body, with little beneficial dietary components – it has no antioxidants to fight free radicals, or fibre to ensure a well functioning digestive tract. Dairy is also pumped with hormones and antibiotics, which not only promote acne but can lead to hormonal imbalances and even antibiotic resistance. Replace dairy with dairy-free alternatives such as nut milk, coconut yoghurt, coconut/almond ice creams, cashew cheese and nutritional yeast. Once you get the hang of it you will find there is something for everything and everyone! See my replacement advice here and here.
Avoid processed, packaged and refined foods, refined sugar, excessive caffeine consumption, alcohol (especially sugary drinks), vegetable oils.
What to include:
Hydrate with 2L of water daily, ensure 8 hours of quality sleep each night, optimise digestion and eat a clean whole-food diet with copious amounts of greens as well as a variety of colourful plant foods, to get adequate fibre, vitamin A, C, E, zinc and omega 3… including (but not limited to) many of those listed below, on a regular basis:
Red capsicum – high antioxidant levels, vibrant red capsicums help to keep your skin healthy and supple. They are a wonderful source of both vitamin C and the mineral silicon, assisting the strengthening and regeneration of collagen, the main structural protein in connective tissue. Healthy collagen production keeps the skin firm and reduces oxidative damage! Skin tip: much on capsicum throughout your day as you would celery or carrot sticks, enjoy it with dip for extra satiety.
Sweet potato – it’s high levels of beta-carotene convert to vitamin A in the body, meaning it provides us with both vitamins A and C, the antioxidants that fight free radicals from damaging our cell tissue, causing premature aging. Skin tip: choose sweet potatoes that have the deepest orange colour, these contain the most carotene!
Cabbage – containing the skin-loving combo of vitamins A, C and E, cabbage is highest in some of the most powerful antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables. Interestingly, it actually contains more vitamin C than oranges! By now we know that vitamin C is critical when looking to minimise wrinkles, fight inflammation and heal damaged tissue. It’s impressive nutrient content makes it a potent detoxifying food, slowing the aging process.
Lemon – another good source of vitamin C, lemons also support the hard-working liver, our main detoxifying organ. They strengthen liver enzymes and promote the secretion of bile, which in turn aids digestion. A detoxification agent, blood purifier and digestive aid, they are in actual fact alkalising once within the body (despite their acidic taste!). Skin tip: Consume the juice of ½ lemon with a cup of warm water first thing daily to cleanse the body and prepare metabolism, and use lemon throughout your day in salad dressings, stir-fries and smoothies.
Almonds – the monounsaturated fats within almonds help retain moisture within the skin, softening and protecting it. These beautifying nuts are rich in vitamin E, the primary antioxidant in human epidermal tissue. Vitamin E works to protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays, whilst also nourishing the skin from within to prevent dryness.
Fermented Vegetables – loaded with probiotics and enzymes, fermented vegetables work on ensuring the gut is a friendly environment for good bacteria to thrive! This helps with digestion and the absorption of all these skin-loving nutrients. Probiotics also work to keep your system free from nasty pathogenic bacteria that cause digestive upset, poor immunity and inflammation, which may lead to skin irritation, acne or dull, unclear skin. Skin tip: don’t be afraid of it, just spoon a few tablespoons on top of a salad, crackers or alongside a meal!
Other foods to include – all green leafy vegetables, carrots, avocado, berries, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and brazil nuts.