Radiant Skin from the Inside Out
● By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden
We’re all familiar with the phrase, “You are what you eat.” It expresses the notion that what one consumes has a bearing on one’s health and fitness. We’ve changed our diets and taken supplements to lose weight, to gain muscle and to detox, but it was only recently that the idea of changing our diet for the purpose of looking more beautiful became mainstream. Suddenly, supplements made from ground plants, vegetables and algae are taking over store shelves, giving protein powder some competition. With an increase in degenerative diseases, people are realizing that modern life isn’t so conducive to good health—too much stress, packaged food and pollution. We need to go back to basics: organic food, chemical-free skincare and embracing healthy ways to prepare foods.
Our skin is like our outer digestive system. Everything we put on our skin is absorbed and digested by our body and goes into and through our vital organs.
To ensure the skin is hydrated both inside and out, however, we need to go beyond just lathering our favorite oils onto the skin. We can hydrate our skin from the inside by including healthy fats in our diet. Omega-3 fats have been shown to preserve the skin-firming protein collagen and to reduce inflammation of the skin. Plant-based fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, avocado and nuts are also rich in Omega-3s. Try to incorporate these healthy fats into your daily diet for smooth, glowing skin.
The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as those nutrients go to more important organs first—so nutrition and healthy digestion is key. If we’re not getting enough nutrients or digesting our food properly due to poor gut health, our skin literally starves. To maintain good gut health, we need to eliminate allergens and foods that are tough on our digestive system.
Add antioxidants to your diet Antioxidants protect the skin by limiting the production of free radicals, which can damage skin cells. Foods high in antioxidants include berries, cherries, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, kale, pomegranate and acai. Antioxidants in skin care products can also do a lot for the health and appearance of the skin, including reducing fine lines, calming inflamed skin, and tightening and toning. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium are of particular benefit. In addition to helping fortify cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the body repair itself.
Try powdered supplements You know it as an ingredient in skin-care products, but nutritional collagen powder has plenty of perks too. It may help repair the cartilage in your joints, protecting them from stress and strain, and help digestion by improving stomach acid production, preventing heartburn, constipation and other GI issues.
Skin feeling deflated? Try mixing natural marine collagen powder into a glass of water. An increase in collagen and collagen production can help leave skin more hydrated, which then helps smooth lines and wrinkles, and increase firmness and elasticity for a plumper appearance. And there is some evidence that taking certain types of collagen can improve fine lines and signs of skin aging. Collagen is a major structural component of the skin—like the cement that holds the cells of our skin and hair and nails together.
Made from the radish-like root of a plant that’s native to Peru, maca powder is packed with iron, calcium and protein. Its compounds help improve circulation, delivering more nutrients to your muscles, which fights fatigue and enables you to go harder for longer at the gym. The powder has a chalky taste, so blend it into a fruit smoothie to mask the flavor.
Unlike many other powders, which are made from a single pulverized ingredient, green powders can contain any number of dried and ground vegetables like kale, broccoli and spinach, as well as grasses, tea leaves and even fruits. The powders are made from whole veggies and retain some of their fiber content and disease-fighting nutrients, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Green powders are especially beneficial whenever you fall short of the recommended five to nine servings of produce a day. They come in different flavors, so just stir them into water.
Spirulina powder is made from freshwater algae that are microscopic in size, but pack a major nutritional punch. One tablespoon has four grams of protein, as well as iron for energy; beta-carotine, a potent antioxidant; and phycocyanin, a protein with anti-inflammatory effects. Researchers have found that the protein in spirulina helps build muscle, while anti-inflammatory compounds protect muscles from exercise-related damage. You can even take it for allergy relief. Warning: There is a fishy taste, so add to your post-gym protein drink to (hopefully) disguise the flavor.
When it comes to maintaining the skin externally, having a daily routine that includes cleansing and moisturizing is critical. Cleansing ensures that impurities are removed from the skin on a daily basis, while moisturizing ensures the skin is kept firm, supple and hydrated. I always recommend natural products, as the body absorbs more than 60 percent of what is placed on the skin.
There is a “wellness revolution” happening. Beauty from within is the future. It is not only a trend—it’s becoming a movement. So build your philosophy on the “edible beauty” principle: Never put anything on your skin that you would not eat. If you can follow this practice and look for products that are rich in natural oils and antioxidants, you will be rewarded with the benefits of a healthy, natural and radiant glow, both inside and out.