Fostering great skin and a healthy glow can only come from the inside out. While good nutrition is key, knowing what to eat and how much, can take you from fatigued with lacklustre skin to high energy and a gorgeous glow. Here’s a guide to how.
Fad diets come and go—many which are not only detrimental to our health, but also our beauty. These new approaches to eating may sell millions of books, with promises of a slimmer physique if you replace this meal with that shake, or cut carbs and reduce calories, however, as any good nutritionist will advise: long-term effects of unhealthy diet plans can sacrifice our health and our skin.
Amid some of the more highly publicised diets are a select few lifestyles that have been proven to promote better skin, more vibrant health and—as a bonus—a smaller waistline.
While not every diet suits every body, here are some of the best eating plans to adopt, or incorporate into your every day, if you want to rid your skin of rashes, reduce wrinkles, have clear, dewy skin and embody an unmistakable glow.
Once considered a diet of vegan hippies, raw food has garnered some mainstream love over the past few years thanks to its reported healing and health-giving properties.
Those who have adopted the lifestyle report not only healthy weightloss, but also boundless energy and clearer skin, thanks to an abundance of life-giving enzymes, which remain in tact when food is left in its raw state, and don’t deplete the body’s own stores as quickly as when eating cooked foods.
According to raw food nutritionist and beauty foods expert, David Wolfe, who explores the beauty food revolution in his online course through The BodyMind Institute, eating raw is far from a new trend.
“Cooking food has had something significant to do with our ‘fall from grace’ as cooking adds all kinds of chemistries to foods we may not be designed for,” he says. “(It) destroys B vitamins, eradicates different forms of vitamin C and E, destroys/damages amino acids such as tryptophan, dramatically increases the possibility of obesity, directly separates us from our natural food instincts and Mother Nature, and allows for the introduction of all different kinds of nutritional deficiency conditions. When we eat a balanced, raw-food-based approach to diet we begin to recapture our original, beautiful, natural, spiritual, joy-filled, ennobled state of being.”
However, cooler weather may call for more warming foods. As with anything, go with what intuitively feels right for your body.
Green Goddess Salad
Chef Russell James is known for his delicious raw fare, from hearty salads to go-back-for-more desserts. Discover more of Russell’s recipes at www.therawchef.com
Broccoli & Cauliflower Couscous
1/4 head cauliflower
1/2 head broccoli
2 tbsp dill
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp nutritional yeast
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor, to the pint where the mixture looks like couscous. Set aside.
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
3/4 cup cashews, soaked 20 for minutes
2 tbsp fresh tarragon
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley
1/2 clove garlic
1 tbsp chives
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp nori or dulse flakes
Water to blend
- Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
2 good handfuls spinach
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp spirulina
2 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches salt
- Massage all ingredients in a bowl.
1 head of your favourite salad, such as romaine, or a few little gem lettuces. Arugula, watercress and lamb’s lettuce are also good.
A few sprigs of dill
- In a large bowl, tear your lettuce or chosen leaves and add some of the Green Goddess dressing, working it through so that all the leaves are covered. Dice the avocado and add to the bowl, quickly mixing again.
- Take a nice, large plate and lay down a bed of the leaves, dressing and avocado.
- Next layer on the plate is going to be the spirulina spinach. Once you have that, add the broccoli and cauliflower couscous.
- Finish with the sprigs of dill and serve.
Smoothies are one of the easiest—and most important—meals to put into your every day. Not only can you pack a heap of health-promoting and beauty-boosting vegetables (and a little fruit) into one glass, smoothies also mean you don’t have to change any other part of your usual food routine if you don’t want to: it’s what you’re adding in that counts.
Green vege smoothies not only offer vital nutrients and minerals, they also work as an intestinal broom, cleaning our insides, thanks to the fibre content, as it makes its way from mouth to stomach and beyond. They’re also a great way to incorporate beautifying superfoods into your diet, such as spirulina, chia seeds and wheatgrass.
Beauty Booster Smoothie
Serves 2 to 3
1 cucumber, diced
1 large avocado, peeled
1 cup of hemp milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
5 ice cubes
Put all the ingredients into a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth. Add more milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.
Fresh juices are considered fast-working beauty elixirs, as they take little of the body’s energy to digest. Vegetable juices in particular infuse the bloodstream and cells with key nutrients that can result in clearer, younger-looking skin.
Adding a fresh juice to your every morning is a great idea if you want to keep wrinkles at bay and clear the complexion. Be sure to drink your juice as soon as possible after making it, as it can quickly spoil.
Clean and Clear Juice
Half a pineapple
Add a little spring water for added hydration and a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt, as healthy salts can help the nutrients penetrate the cells at a deeper level.
pH Alkaline Diet
Getting a grasp of how to keep your diet in a healthy alkaline range can reap big beauty rewards. According to Dr Robert O Young author bestseller The pH Miracle, living in an acidic state ravages our overall health, showing up as dis-eases while resulting in skin issues and early ageing.
Food, lifestyle and environment are the biggest culprits of acidifying the body; however, knowing how to keep your blood pH on the slightly alkaline side— between 7.365 and 7.4—is where results happen.
The human body will do anything to maintain a proper balance. This means when it enters an acidic state, it will mine minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium from bones, teeth and organs in order to neutralise the acid. Too much acid is also a playground for yeast, fungus and viruses.
“Eating an alkaline diet rich in spouted grains, seeds, nuts, green vegetables and fruits is the best way to maintain the delicate pH balance of the blood and tissues and the alkaline design of the body,” says Dr Young. “This will then help to prevent any and all sickness and disease. It will also help to improve the quality and the quantity of life well beyond 100 years.”
Dr Young says that healthy foods aren’t the only way to stay in the pH range and stay young.
“It’s also important to manage stress, stay positive, quit drinking alcohol, quit smoking, laugh out loud, get and stay married and share a hug,” he says.
Broccoli and Avocado Soup
2-3 broccoli florets
1 brown onion
1 green or red capsicum
1 celery stalk
2 cups vegetable broth (yeast-free)
Celtic sea salt to taste
Add cumin, basil, fresh cilantro or your favourite spices to taste
- Heat vegetable broth, but do not boil
- Add chopped onion and broccoli, and warm for several minutes.
- Put in blender before adding the avocado, pepper and celery, and puree until the soup is creamy. Add more water if needed.
- Flavour and serve warm.
With our skin reliant on our gut health, adding fermented foods to your every day meals can offer big beauty bonuses.
Rich in naturally occurring probiotics, fermented foods are a potent form of anti-ageing, thanks to their ability to settle inflammatory skin conditions and promote general skin wellbeing from within.
Regularly consuming fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut can help to heal blemishes, ward off rashes and repair damaged cells. Dermatologists suggest applying the juice from fermented plant-based food directly onto the skin for an instant pick-me-up. This nourishes the epidermis, with the skin taking on a vibrant and youthful glow. However, it’s when these foods and drinks are put in the diet that true and lasting beauty benefits are seen.
Fermented foods and probiotics also assist with better digestion and absorption of nutrients, which will in turn improve skin appearance.
An easy way to up your intake of good bacteria is by making cabbage rejuvelac, a sweet tasting drink made by fermenting purple or green cabbage. Adding lactobacteria to your diet has many health benefits, including better digestion and clearer skin.
If you’ve made good quality rejuvelac it will taste slightly sweet. Poor quality rejuvelac is easy to spot thanks to a bad odor and taste. If this is the case, throw out the batch and start again. It’s also important to use only high quality water when making it, so go for spring where possible or distilled, filtered or reverse osmosis, rather than tap water.
Try this simple recipe from chef Natasha Kyssa’s Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual:
3 1/2 cups purified water
6 cups coarsely chopped, loosely packed fresh organic cabbage
Add water and cabbage to blender, and start blending at low speed for 30 seconds. Advance to high speed and blend for another 30 seconds until well blended. Pour into a clean Mason jar (or glass jug), cover lightly with a cloth (don’t seal) and let stand at room temperature for three days.
Strain off liquid rejuvelac using a nut milk bag or strainer. Refrigerate liquid rejuvelac, and compost the pulp – all the nutrients are in the liquid.
Cabbage rejuvelac takes three days to mature. It will keep one week in the fridge.
Best Beauty Minerals
Zinc: If you suffer from hair loss, acne and other skin-related issues, zinc could be missing in your diet. This mighty mineral promotes cell repair, division and growth, as well as production of white blood cells. A powerful cleanser, it clean sweeps the liver, repairs tissues and oxygenates the body while it’s at it.
Sulfur: If it’s glowing skin and gorgeous hair you seek, add sulfur to your every day. An essential mineral within the connective tissue of the human body—tissues which in turn support and connect all of the body’s organs. Sulfur also drives nutrients in and out of cells, helps regulate blood sugar, strengthen the immune system and repair tissues. It’s also responsible for rebuilding keratin and collagen: important ingredients to foster glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails.
Silicon: Many nutritionists list silicon as on of the best beauty secrets around, thanks to its ability to keep cells walls “elastic”, therefore preventing early ageing.
Best Beauty Foods
Adding foods that boast high concentrations of the above minerals, as well iron and magnesium can offer big beauty benefits.
From avocado to tumeric, foods considered as beautifying are largely due to the alkalizing affect they have on the body. Beauty foods also contain high levels of antioxidants and also well regarded for their anti-parasitical and anti-inflammatory properties.
Avocado: Containing high amounts of lutein, which works as an antioxidant, protecting the skin for UVB damage, the avocado is also a super beauty food thanks to its high concentrations of skin-loving Vitamin E, Vitamin C and oleic acid.
Aloe Vera: Believed to be a food of long-lasting youth and rapid healing. The anti-inflammatory power in acute inflammation is one of it’s best known actions. The gel of the Aloe Vera can be used topically or add to your daily juice.
Bee Pollen: Composed of 22 amino acids with higher amounts of the eight essential amino acids than most high protein foods, bee pollen is rich in B-complex, vitamin C, D, E, lecithin, cysteine, RNA, DNA, good calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, and selenium. It reduces the production of histamine and lowers the allergic response. Bee pollen improves beauty as it helps clear acne and reverses ageing and wrinkling. Athletes take it to increase strength, endurance, energy and speed.
Cacao: Listed as the world’s top antioxidant food, cacao’s beautifying properties are from the high levels of magnesium, chromium, iron and manganese. It’s also rich in tryptophan, serotonin, anandamide and “love chemicals” PEA, and is known to extend life.
Coconut Oil: The most versatile beauty food, coconut oil is high in antioxidants and helps control blood sugar levels, assists the thyroid gland and repairs the skin. Eat it straight off the spoon, blend it into smoothies, use for high-heat cooking and all over the skin following a bath or shower. Coconut oil is also a great alternative to toxic sunscreens, as it naturally contains a sun protection factor of approximately four.
Cucumbers: A powerful internal cleanser, cucumbers foster smoother, clearer skin thanks to the high levels of silicon found in the vegetable’s skin. Juice or blend, but always choose organic.
Figs: Alkalising and high in minerals such as calcium, figs are great for the digestion thanks to large amounts of fibre. When the digestion is working efficiently and the gut itself healed, clearer skin is guaranteed.
Hemp Seeds: One of the most nutritionally complete foods, high-protein hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids. While their Omega 3 and 6 properties promote healthy skin.
Macadamia Nuts: High in selenium, zinc and fatty acids, macadamia nuts are highly beneficial for the skin.
Pumpkin Seeds: Mineral-rich and a great source of B vitamins, pumpkin seeds also boast phytonutrients and fatty oils, which help to foster clear skin.
Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory, tumeric is also known for its antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties. It’s also revered for its ability to purify blood, which is essential for clear skin.
This feature originally appeared in Australia’s leading health and lifestyle publication, WellBeing.