Feeding your skin from within will give your skin a healthy radiance 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 our skin and gut health. Our appearance is a reflection of what is happening internally which means an outer glow begins deep within your digestive system.
Conversely, problems within the digestive tract can trigger skin rashes, inflammation and acne.
At The Beauty Chef, our approach to beauty is all about nourishing your skin from the inside out. And most importantly, cultivating a healthy “inner garden” or microbiome where trillions of bacteria live in your digestive tract outnumbering your human cells by approximately 10 to one.
Your skin will look its best when you feed your body – or more precisely your belly - the nutrients it needs to nourish the intestinal tract and digest food properly. These nutrients are best derived from a diet rich in low HI wholefoods. By low HI, we mean foods that have had less human intervention. The less processed, the better.
What you don’t eat can also make a big difference to your complexion. You can help keep your skin healthy by eating less gut compromising foods including; sugar, gluten, alcohol, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and processed meats and dairy.
Too much of these types of foods can over time damage your intestinal tract and even lead to a permeable gut wall (known as leaky gut), 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 as well as premature ageing.
So let’s focus on some of the skin-nourishing nutrients you need to eat daily to promote good gut health – starting with probiotics.
We have all heard about the importance of eating probiotics to encourage the growth of good gut flora, boost your immune system and also help your body manufacture beauty-boosting B vitamins.
Probiotics can be found in everything from:
- Fermented beverages including kombucha, apple cider vinegar and kefir
- Lacto-fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, yoghurt and cultured dairy products.
- The Beauty Chef’s range of lacto-fermented Inner Beauty powders and boosts.
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 called inulin and include bananas, berries, onions, garlic, Jerusalem 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.
You can get your daily dose of fibre from:
- Chia seeds.
- Psyllium husks.
- Oats (which also contain silica which helps promote skin elasticity).
- Fresh fruits.
- Unrefined whole grains.
Helpful Hint: Remember to soak your oats, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts before consuming as these all contain a substance called phytic acid, which binds to minerals in your gut and prevents them from being absorbed. Soaking will reduce their levels of phytic acid.
A daily cup of bone broth from grass-fed beef bones or organic chicken bones is another good way to help balance gut health. If you have digestive issues or inflammation, bone broth can also help heal and seal your gut lining. And 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 as it is found in so many wholefoods 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. If your liver is working well, your skin will thank you. A healthy gut and a healthy liver work synergistically to keep your skin clear and luminous.
Getting enough good fats
Essential fatty acids are important to nourish and hydrate your skin.
The saying should really be an avocado a day keeps the doctor away because they are a good source of monounsaturated fat and fibre plus they are anti-inflammatory and contain vitamins E, C, K and B6.
Coconut oil is rich in gut-healing lauric acid, medium chain triglycerides and it’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal and antiviral.
Ghee and butter are making comeback for good reason as they 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.
Chia seeds are a great source of anti-inflammatory and anti-aging omega 3 fatty acids that keep your heart, intestinal tract and connective tissue healthy.
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.
Or you can get your omega 3s from sardines, which are low in mercury and loaded with calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. Plus they are packed with protein.
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 powders such as The Beauty Chef’s Body Inner Beauty Powder.
Add fresh herbs and spices
Cumin, cardamom, caraway seeds, nutmeg and cinnamon are all carminatives meaning they 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.
Eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables
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 ageing.
Some of our favourites are:
- 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.
Finally, remember it’s not just what you eat but how you eat that determines the nourishment you get from your food. Avoid drinking with your meals as it dilutes your digestive enzymes, chew your food properly and sip your smoothies slowly or alternatively chew your smoothies to allow your saliva glands to begin the first stage of digestion and ensure maximum nutrient absorption.
Visit The Digest for more beauty and wellbeing inspiration.