Healthy living is one of the most important things in life, and it starts with how we take care of our body!
When it comes to healthy looking, glowing skin, what you ingest is truly as important as the products you apply to your skin. Foods have powerful ingredients that affect your complexion. Luminous, supple skin is only a few bites away.
When foods are digested, they get broken down into vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your body uses to build healthy skin. For example, if you deprive your body of protein, your skin won’t have the amino acids that go into making collagen and elastic tissue. Obviously fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are excellent sources of nutrients, so the next time you are at your local farmer’s market or at the grocery store, remember that the darker and brighter the colour, the more nutrients.
Key components like healthy fats (omega-3s and omega-6s), vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, antioxidants, selenium, lycopene and other carotenoids all play an important role in the skin’s health and appearance.
Antioxidants, like lycopene and other carotenoids, have a protective effect on your skin by decreasing its sensitivity to the sun and diminishing free radical damage. You can find them in all kinds of foods, especially colourful fruits, vegetables and spices like berries, tomatoes, carrots, apples, apricots, turmeric, beets, squash, spinach, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, olive oil, green tea, tangerines, peppers, beans, peas and lentils.
Vitamin E (along with A and C) is also known to be a potent sun blocker that keeps skin supple and protects its top layers from UV rays and other environmental factors. They can be found in many foods, like almonds, sunflower seeds and kale, that actually gives you 134% and 133% of your daily value of vitamin C and A respectively, and is also one the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that both absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV light.
Minerals like selenium (that are found in Brazil nuts, button mushrooms, fish, and whole-wheat pasta) may protect your skin from cells that gather free radicals and help prevent skin cancer.
RADIANCE & HYDRATION
Obviously, we all know fruits and vegetables are incredibly important for that healthy glow but other foods are just as effective to boost the skin’s radiance. We all know that drinking water is one of the best things you can do to keep your skin hydrated. It also helps your cells take in nutrients and get rid of toxins while improving blood flow, which keeps your skin glowing. Who knew drinking your usual soy latte (or eating edamame) could also get you a clearer complexion? The minerals and proteins in soy have been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation. Dark chocolate is also a great addition to your diet. In addition to having high levels of antioxidant flavonols, the cocoa found in dark chocolate hydrates your skin, making it firmer and more supple. For a detoxing effect, liquid chlorophyll works from the inside out by oxygenating the skin to keep it healthy and glowing. It is also known for its cleansing properties, helping to detox your body from blemish-causing toxins.
Omega-3s and omega-6s are good fats that help create skin’s natural oil barrier, preventing dryness and blemishes while strengthening the skin. Essential fatty acids (found in olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, salmon, chia seeds and flax seeds) help your skin appear smoother and younger-looking, by repressing your body’s response to irritation and attracting water to skin cells to reduce wrinkles and plump up the skin.
Vitamin C, which is essential to collagen production, fights free radicals and helps undo sun damage to collagen and elastin, which firms up the skin. Get vitamin C from red bell peppers, citrus fruits, papayas, kiwis, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kale and sweet potatoes. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that helps save your skin from sun damage and inflammation, that can be found in many foods like vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupes, olives, asparagus, spinach, Swiss chard and other leafy greens. The protein in dairy products, such as Greek yogurt, also helps skin become firmer and more resistant to lines.
Many foods naturally contain occurring substances that bring on sleep, so here are some of the best pre-bed snacks to help you settle down for a quality rest.
In addition to containing their own source of melatonin, walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin (the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles).
A recent study found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep. Rich in magnesium (a mineral needed for quality sleep and building bones), almonds could help you get a better night's sleep.
Containing lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain similarly to opium, eating lettuce for (or with) dinner could help you speed up your bedtime. For tea drinkers, simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed. According to researchers, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles, acting as a mild sedative. Another great, well-known option, steeping a cup of stress-busting chamomile tea or passionfruit tea one hour before bed. Researchers believe that Harman alkaloids—chemicals found in high levels in the passionfruit flower—act on your nervous system to make you feel tired. A spoonful of honey mixed with tea could give you a more restful sleep because of its natural sugar that slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily.
Chickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan, so a light snack of hummus and healthy crackers (to help the tryptophan reach the brain), could be a good way to head into an afternoon nap. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and mustard greens are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.
Aliments rich in vitamins are also very important. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate, all of which are helpful to make you snooze. Well-known for being rich in potassium, bananas are also a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness). Packing in protein, vitamin B6 and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep, pistachios are a great snack for better sleep. Sweet potatoes are also great sources of potassium, magnesium and calcium, perfect to help you relax.
Ultimately, the best way to get a good night's sleep is to increase your melatonin intake. Cherries, along with nuts and oats, are a natural source of melatonin. When eaten regularly, they can help regulate your sleep cycle. The grains in oatmeal also trigger insulin production and raise your blood sugar naturally, making you feel sleepy.
Last but certainly not least, dark chocolate also contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind.
In short, beauty starts from within. By making sure of eating a good variety of natural, unprocessed aliments like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains - your body, skin, organs, hair, nails will be healthier and stronger as a result of good nutrition.
For more information on detoxing foods, read: The Art of Detoxing.