Paleo: The Ultimate Beauty Diet?

Can paleo living reverse ageing?

It’s a way of eating adopted from our ancient ancestors. Often deemed a food fad or a diet for extreme carnivores, Paleo has made its way into the mainstream largely thanks to passionate chef, Pete Evans, and his no-nonsense approach to wholefood nutrition.

While nutritionists and food fans alike sing its praises for the lifestyle’s reported benefits, many are discovering the Paleo path is a nutrient-dense way to foster vibrancy and beauty, from the inside out.

Often said to be a meat-centric diet regime, proponents of the lifestyle speak of its large reliance on organic wholefoods, with sustainably raised, consciously consumed animal protein just a small part of the overall lifestyle—which at its core is about eating real food. Nothing processed, no grains, no dairy and no sugars.

So popular is the demand for Paleo, that Evans, along with a team of naturopaths, nutritionist and chefs, created The Paleo Way (www.thepaleoway.com), an online 10-week program to give people a kick-start into the real food journey. While many are discovering innumerable health benefits, they’re also finding dull, lifeless skin becomes vibrant and lacklustre hair shines again.

Naturopath and nutritionist Helen Padarin, and trainer and cook Luke Hines share insight into the beauty benefits of the Paleo lifestyle…

HELEN PADARIN, naturopath and nutritionist

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Why could Paleo be considered an idea beauty diet?

Because real beauty comes from health. When your cells are nourished, oxygenated, supple, hydrated beauty shines through. The plants provide a wealth of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which give the skin a beautiful glow. A study in a UK university showed that the glow one gets from eating veggies is deemed sexier by the opposite sex than that achieved by a suntan! The fats help moisturise the skin from the inside out; bone broths hydrate the skin and provide a wealth of collagen for connective tissue strength and integrity—kind of like dietary botox— bone broth over botox I say.

There are a wealth acids in fermented foods that appear to have anti-ageing affects, and certainly they promote healthy gut flora, and since we’re outnumbered roughly 10:1 by microbes and they carry out hundreds of functions for us, including regulating our immune system, which is responsible to managing inflammation. This is very important for optimal ageing, as chronic inflammation is one key process that accelerates the ageing process. For this reason, there is also benefit in having a diet and lifestyle that eliminates or limits the intake of the most common inflammatory foods.

How can this way of eating affect the skin positively?

Bone broth as mentioned above is a wonderful connective tissue tonic, due to its high content of glutamine, collagen, minerals, and natural fats. Good quality connective tissue means less wrinkles. The bioflavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins, and enzymes in vegetables and fruit provide a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Both oxidation and inflammation are two processes that speed up the ageing process. The phytonutrients in plants also improve oxygen delivery to cells, creating more of that natural colour to the skin – natures blush is eating lots of brightly coloured veggies.

The bioflavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins, and enzymes in vegetables and fruit provide a wealth of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Both oxidation and inflammation are two processes that speed up the ageing process.

Probiotics don’t just inhabit our gut, but also protect our skin. Having regular intake of fermented vegetables and tonics such as coconut water kefir and beet kvass provide a diverse range of beneficial bacteria, which helps to keep our microbiome healthy and resilient. These foods also contains many acids and enzymes which appear ot have anti-aging activity, perhaps via anti-inflammatory or antioxidant activity.

What might someone notice with the condition of their hair, skin and nails after adopting Paleo diet recommendations?

Generally the appearance and texture of all are likely to improve. Softer, smoother skin, less blemishes, improved colour, brighter complexion. May even be less susceptible to sunburn. This is a common feedback.

There’s also a glow—brighter eyes, stronger nails, less ridges, less white spots, less splitting and breaking and they grow faster. There’s also strong hair, more body, not so flat, more life in it! Less split ends, fewer breaks and more shine.

Some schools of thought talk about meat consumption as being acidifying and therefore not beautifying. What are your thoughts on this?

I believe there are a number of holes in the acid / alkali argument. pH depends on a wide range of factors – dietary, emotional, lifestyle, environmental. Dietary wise, small amounts of protein, balanced with wonderful natural fats and a wealth of rainbow vegetables, and a little fruit will not result in an acidic condition.

What detox effects might someone experience when adopting a Paleo lifestyle? Why does this happen?

This can affect different people in different ways, but common experiences, particularly in the first 2-5 weeks (depending on current state of health) include:

— Fatigue, low energy, lethargy

— Cold and flu like symptoms

— Headaches

— Muscle aches, joint aches

— Hangover type symptoms

— Transient hair loss

— Skin breakouts / flare ups

— Short term flare up of current / chronic symptoms.

This happens because your body is not having to multi task so much – with less toxins and inflammatory foods going in, adding to the pile of work that the liver, kidneys and lymphatic system needs to deal with, the more the back log of cellular “gunk” can be cleared. This gunk can be a combination of compounds from dietary and environmental sources, as well as bi-products of cellular metabolism. Just like we all eat and poop, our cells eat and poop too! These items are released from cells and into the blood stream, entering circulation to be processed by the liver and kidneys, and to then be eliminated via the skin, lungs, bladder or bowels – organs of elimination. This process, while they are in the blood stream and being processed, especially by the liver, is what can result in us feeling not so great for a period of time.

To ease the detox effect there are wonderful herbs you can use to support liver function, like St Mary’s Thistle, dandelion root, barberry. Lymphatic function: cleavers, calendula, red root, Echinacea; and kidney function: Nettle, dandelion leaf, celery seed. Having these in the form of herb teas, which also helps keep fluid intake up, is a fantastic way to support the process. Good quality liver and kidney support supplements can be used, preferably advised by your naturopath or nutritionist.

To ease the detox effect there are wonderful herbs you can use to support liver function, like St Mary’s Thistle, dandelion root, barberry. Lymphatic function: cleavers, calendula, red root, Echinacea; and kidney function: Nettle, dandelion leaf, celery seed.

If really strong detox symptoms occur, you can even used activated charcoal – away from food and supplements – to help mop up some of the aggravating compounds, so that they’re directly eliminated via the bowels.

LUKE HINES, trainer and cook

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Have you seen examples of “years being taken off” after someone adopts the Paleo diet?

We share stories and journeys daily of tribe members. Often they don’t recognise how much they have turned around their health. Meaning they really do look 10 years younger. It is a mix of: A large part diet, lowered stress levels and eliminating all the ‘baddies’ in their lives.

How important is exercise to the Paleo lifestyle—and how can exercise help us to look younger?

What we encourage in The Paleo Way program is to simply move… It is not about training ourselves into the ground, nor punishing ourselves. Exercise for the most is about nurturing. If you overdo it more often than not you are simply increasing your cortisol (stress) hormone. Ultimately having the reverse effect. For many, walking daily is enough.  At the end of the day it has to be a pleasure!

Would you recommend periods of fasting or detox as part of the Paleo lifestyle?

What we see for the most part, and really it depends on where one started, health wise when they join us, some find that their bodies are eliminating and naturally detoxing anywhere up to three weeks. Our bodies are going through a lot of change. Not simply detoxing but switching. Switching from a sugar adapter to a fat burner. So to the question. Do we fast? When we make the switch to a fat adapter our bodies generally will tell us (intuitively) whether we are in fact hungry and need to eat. most say they only have two meals a day and with nil snacks.

What foods do you consider to be the most beautifying and why?

Gelatin for the obvious reason that it is essentially pure collagen. The amino building blocks that make up, nourish, rejuvenate and rebuild our skin.

Fermented vegetables for a healthy gut flora with essentially keeps our immune systems in check. Fresh, organic vegetables are a must.. When we are talking about increasing our antioxidants. A moderate amount of protein as building blocks for regeneration and let’s not forget our healthy fats. If we are not nourishing with the goods fats then you will notably have very dry skin.

Do you believe grains and processed foods are ageing? If so, why?

Grains naturally are one of the most inflammatory food sources, creating responses in the body that can affect you physically as well as mentally. Processed foods hold very little nutrients so you will tend to eat more empty calories laden with all the baddies.  Long term, your body will age if not meeting its nutrient needs.

Some schools of thought talk about meat consumption as being acidifying and therefore not beautifying. What are your thoughts on this?

Meat in moderation. That’s what we say.  If you look at our ‘Paleo Plate’ it is pictured that way with a good amount of fats and large serve of veggies. Too much meat can be acidic. Paleo is not eating large amounts. Just good quality and well sourced, grass fed.

How much meat do you recommend people eat each week – and is one type of meat more beautifying than others in your opinion?

One to two serves daily, again it depends on your tastes and what you prefer. Some may only have every other day. Protein can also be eggs or fish. Some good quality, healthy fats are also essential for and benefit having healthy skin.

What would you consider to be your most beautifying recipe and why?

Now that is easy. A good hearty bone broth packed full of hearty veggies, a moderate amount of protein and plenty of nutrient dense collagen. The amino acid building block that is the most nourishing and beautifying to our skin.

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Written By

Shannon has been a journalist, beauty editor and photographer for two decades, working with some of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. After falling ill in 2010, Shannon immersed herself in holistic healing therapies, natural beauty and plant-based nutrition, while focusing her media work specifically in these areas to help spread awareness. Today she writes about wellness, self-empowerment and holistic beauty, with her work regularly appearing in Australia’s leading health and lifestyle magazine, WellBeing, holistically-minded food magazine Nourish, wellness magazine Australian Natural Health and various websites. She is also Director at public relations agency, Communeco and a holistic healer, specialising in Reiki, EFT and Psych-K.