Eat your way to a clearer complexion
Cosmetics can only do so much for your complexion on their own, so if you want to ensure your skin stays bright and beautiful, it’s vital you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle too. Holistic Lifestyle and Fitness Consultant, Lori Levin, tells us how:
BH: How can eating the right foods help you achieve a clearer, more nourished complexion?
LL: Ever heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’? Look around you – most times the people with the clearest skin, shiniest hair, and natural energy are those that are eating ‘real food’. By that I mean fresh fruits and vegetables of every colour, good quality animal protein, and fungi, and steering clear of highly processed ‘nutrient no no’s’ that dominate our supermarket shelves. Rule of thumb – don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food! As the body’s largest excretory organ, your skin will tell you all about the fast food binge you had last night!
So, with nutrition as a crucial part of your beauty regime, lets take a quick look at some skin super-foods. One of nature’s beauty treasures is a trace mineral called silica. Known as the ‘beauty mineral’, silica plays an integral part in collagen formation, and also helps to maintain healthy nails and hair. As we get older our levels of silica diminish, so it’s very important to eat silica-rich foods such as bananas, beets, wholegrain breads, and hulls of oats (just to name a few).
Zinc, another nutrient gem, helps generate healthy skin cells, improves collagen formation, and helps the skin's oil glands – a winner for any acne sufferers (plus a great immune system booster!). You can get your daily zinc fix from protein-rich foods like beef, lamb, turkey, salmon, and pumpkin seeds.
Another skin saviour is essential fatty acids, which keep the skin well lubricated and are great for reducing inflammation in the body. The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which must be in balance for great skin. Though we all seem to get enough omega 6, many people lack omega 3s. Some of the best sources are fish, walnut, and cold-pressed flaxseed oil.
BH: And what about exercise? How can that help in our quest for better skin?
LL: Exercise is a powerful tool, and the best part about it is that we can all have it! Exercise increases circulation and the delivery of nutrients to your skin cells, whooshing away potentially damaging toxins and boosting detoxification and cell renewal. It also gives skin the optimum conditions for making collagen, the support fibers that help keep wrinkles and lines at bay.
Poor circulation and being overweight definitely affects your skin health. Consider this - if you don't have good circulation your skin will be starving and suffocating from the inside. No matter what good work you do with your diet, your skin will struggle to get the food you are feeding it. And no matter what good work you do with your skincare, the cycle will continue, leaving the evidence for all to see. So think of the possibilities if you just start to move a little!
Another one of the most positive and dramatic effects of exercise is on acne-prone skin. Studies show that when you exercise your level of stress diminishes. So your adrenal glands are producing less of the hormones that are part of any acne flare-up.
BH: Can drinking water really work wonders for your skin?
LL: The wonders of water are endless – but one of the most significant is its effect on digestion, and in turn, your skin. The combination of drinking plenty of fluids, eating foods rich in fibre, and building up a sweat each day will aid digestion and help the body process and excrete waste – including toxins that can have a negative effect on your skin.
I like to start my day with a large glass of room temperature water with a twist of lemon, or lime juice. Apart from loving the flavour and the feeling of being cleansed, these citrus fruits alkalize the body and help cleanse the liver, which will again help to improve your complexion.
Although some say you should drink 8 glasses of water a day, there is no hard and fast rule. Let your body be your guide – drink when you’re thirsty (but do make sure to make a conscious effort to drink if it’s not a regular habit), and make sure to hydrate more when you are active.
Every day, through exercise and a healthy diet, I watch my clients stand straighter, breath deeper, feel stronger and younger, and even dress differently! So go ahead and try it – I dare you to look and feel fabulous!