Feeding your skin from within will give your skin a healthy glow that no amount of cosmetics can replicate. Here are some of our favourite beauty foods guaranteed to get your glow on – from the inside out.
Science is proving there is a strong connection between your skin and gut health so no surprise, your appearance is a reflection of what is happening internally which means an outer glow begins deep within your digestive system.
Your skin will look its best when you feed yourself the nutrients your belly needs, and ones that get properly digested. These nutrients are best derived from a diet that is rich in "whole" (as in minimally refined) food. The less processed, the better.
You can also help keep your skin healthy by eating foods that don't compromise your digestion. Foods such as sugar, gluten, alcohol, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and processed meats and dairy.
Too much of this stuff can damage your intestinal tract and even contribute to a leaky gut (trust me, that's not something you want), allowing toxins and undigested food to seep directly into your bloodstream triggering an inflammatory response. The result is systemic inflammation, which spreads around the body causing a broad range of skin problems from dry skin to skin breakouts not to mention premature aging.
So let’s focus on some of the skin-nourishing nutrients you need to eat daily to promote good gut health – starting with probiotics. Probiotics can be found in everything from fermented beverages (ie kombucha and kefir) as well as lacto-fermented foods (such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and yogurt.
Your digestive tract also requires a daily dose of prebiotics to feed the good bugs in your digestive tract. Prebiotics are foods which contain an insoluble fibre and include things like bananas, berries, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, celery and leafy greens. Fibre also acts as an intestinal broom which helps sweep away toxic waste and cleanses your digestive tract.
Some of my favourite forms of fibre are chia seeds, fresh cut fruit, veggies and unrefined whole grains like steel cut oats.
A daily cup of bone broth from grass-fed beef bones or organic chicken bones is another good way to help balance gut health because it helps nourish and heal your intestinal lining. Plus it’s rich in skin-loving nutrients including amino acids, hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Vitamin C is an easy addition to your diet because it's found in so many 'whole foods' and assists with the formation of collagen, which helps strengthen your skin and maintain elasticity. Fruits and veggies including lemons, berries, tomatoes, capsicums, oranges, kiwifruit, papaya and grapefruits are all high in vitamin C as are your leafy greens.
Starting your day with a glass of warm water and lemon juice will help flush toxins from your body and support your liver... and that's important because if your liver is working well, your skin will also thank you. A healthy gut and a healthy liver work synergistically to keep your skin clear and luminous.
Essential fatty acids are crucial to fully nourish and hydrate your skin. Coconut oil is rich in gut-healing lauric acid, medium chain triglycerides and it’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal and antiviral. Ghee and butter contain fat soluble vitamins A, E and K2 plus an anti-inflammatory substance called butyrate which can help protect the intestinal walls. They are also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which boosts metabolism and may have anti-cancer properties. Fish oils and ground flax seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. And fermented cod liver oil is especially good because it is high in skin-loving vitamins A and D, plus it is rich in the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Your body uses protein to build and repair your skin, muscle tissue and bones. It also promotes the growth of strong hair and nails. Plus protein helps regulate your metabolism and is crucial in the production of important body chemicals including enzymes and hormones. Try to get it from a variety of sources such as eggs, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds and quality protein powder.
And I dare not forget the subject of spices! Cumin, cardamom, caraway seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon all help assist digestion and prevent gas. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and relieves nausea while peppermint soothes digestion by relaxing stomach muscles. Cayenne pepper stimulates your metabolism and helps curb cravings, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, cinnamon keeps blood sugar levels steady and cardamom relieves indigestion. Sage helps promote bile flow for healthy digestion, parsley is an iron-rich blood cleanser, thyme is an anti-inflammatory and fennel seeds help eliminate mucus and gas.
Not only are they rich in fibre but they also contain a plethora of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight free radical damage which causes premature skin aging.
- Beetroots, blueberries and other purple coloured foods are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins which help prevent wrinkles.
- Papayas and other yellow fruits and vegetables are high in beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A which is crucial to skin repair. Papayas are also gut-friendly because they contain an enzyme called papain which assists digestion.
- Cabbages and other cruciferous vegetables are high in fibre plus they contain a potent detoxifier, an antioxidant called sulforaphane as well as collagen-boosting vitamin C.
- The super-hydrating, humble cucumber is anti-inflammatory and contains skin boosting silica as well as vitamins B and C, zinc, folic acid, iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.