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25 September 2017Last updated
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Beauty | Grooming

Can you feed your skin?

Your lifestyle habits – including what you eat – are reflected in your skin. But are superfoods worth investing in?

Anita Quade
1 Apr 2017 | 12:13 pm
  • Source:Getty Images/Image Source

For those who want to unlock the secret to glowing skin, shiny tresses and strong nails, it is as simple as working from the inside out. Feeding your skin doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive – most of the must-eats are available at your supermarket for a fraction of the cost of an expensive 
face cream.

Green goodness

Start with going green. This has long been a mantra of health gurus and beauty bloggers, and for good reason – the green family of vegetables is packed with nutrients. Enter kale – once known as the poor man’s food, it has now risen to become the supermodel of the green family thanks to its high magnesium content. It also has more iron than beef and boosts your vitamin C levels, which in turn boosts your immune system and kick-starts your metabolism.

Kale is also loved because it’s low in calories – one cup of it has only 36 calories, five grams of fibre and best of all, zero fat, so is favoured by those watching their weight. Plus, it’s made up of about 80 per cent water, so sauté this leafy green to make a great side dish or add it to your salad or smoothie for a guaranteed boost of hydration levels, which will help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

A dose of kale will give you 100 per cent of your average vitamin A and C requirements and that is great news for the skin’s health, as vitamin C is responsible for helping to produce collagen. Its high level of antioxidant properties give a natural protection from the sun so will help prevent skin damage due to the sun’s rays and the lutein, beta-carotene and carotenoids will boost skin firmness. Toxins in the body can show up on the skin, so try a kale juice, to help flush out toxins and give your skin a healthy glow. Juicing this green can also help prevent hair breakage and the vitamin B found in this green goddess helps prevent hair shedding and boosts the health of your scalp.

Haute Living magazine writer Rosa Sanchez says that the health benefits of kale are enormous. ‘If you were to ask any health guru today to make a list of greens that have become essential to a diet in this day in age, kale would definitely make the top of the list,’ she says. ‘Although its bitter taste can leave much to be desired, its vitamin-filled and cancer-fighting properties have made this cruciferous vegetable a powerhouse in the industry.’

Why not replace your potato crisps with kale chips? It’s as simple as tearing off the leaves, drizzling in olive oil and crisping in the oven for 20 minutes to make the perfect guilt-free snack as well as boost your beauty regime at the same time.

Besides kale, when it comes to healthy living a perennial favourite is avocado – it offers nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving.

Avocados can be used easily in everything from salads and smoothies to a spread on toast. It is high in monounsaturated fats, which is vital for maintaining good moisture levels in the epidermal layer of your skin. It is often used as a face mask too, with fans such as Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr revealing it’s a great way to get a glow when you are feeling fatigued; she also admits she eats avocados for breakfast and snacks on the creamy pulp during the day.

The omega-9 fats in them reduce redness and irritation too, while the antioxidant carotenoid protects against wrinkles and helps boost firmness of skin.

Kathleen Alleaume, nutritionist and author of What’s Eating You?, says tucking into avocados up to three times a week is great for both your complexion and your waistline.

‘Although avocados are high in fat and calories, research has shown that these specific fatty acids are more likely to be used as slow-burning energy than stored as fat, thereby creating a feeling of satisfied fullness with a reduction in sugar cravings.’

Fruity flavours

When it comes to fighting the signs of ageing, blueberries rule. These small berries pack a powerful punch and are the king of antioxidants, protecting our bodies from free radicals that can contribute to ageing and cancer. They are said to contain the highest antioxidant levels of all commonly consumed fruits and veg, which slow down ageing by neutralising free radicals in your body. Native to North America, they also contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent your cells from ageing – so expect a more youthful glow.

Kathleen says blueberries are the ideal fruit when it comes to turning back the clock.

‘They pack a serious hit of vitamins A 
and C that are essential to keeping our skin smooth and supple,’ she says. The fibre in this purple fruit also helps remove toxins in the body, which in turn will give you a clear complexion. For those that suffer from broken capillaries, add blueberries to your morning smoothie to strengthen blood vessels and heal capillaries under the skin. Acne sufferers can also rejoice as blueberries help balance the oil content in your skin and can prevent breakouts.

While pomegranate offers a pop of colour and freshness to your plate, this fruit, known as the lucky fruit by the Chinese, is perfect to help protect your skin from the effects of sunlight. Its antioxidant content can also protect your skin from free radicals. It will help prolong the life of cells that produce collagen and elastin to keep your skin looking youthful.

The good oil

You will be hard-pushed to find a beauty guru who doesn’t hail coconut oil as one of the best beauty wonders for everything from hydrating skin to moisturising dry locks.

Angelina Jolie starts her day with a teaspoon of it, stars such as Emma Stone 
use it to remove their make-up, and 
Gwyneth Paltrow uses it to whiten her 
teeth. It seems everyone is slathering this miracle oil on their face and bodies to soak 
up the benefits of this all-natural oil that is available in your supermarket aisle and is purse-friendly.

Celebrity hairdresser Mark Townsend, the man behind the glossy tresses of stars such as Natalie Portman, Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lawrence, says he uses coconut oil to tame frizz and smooth hair. ‘There’s nothing more hydrating than coconut oil,’ he says.

It is perfect to apply as an overnight conditioner – just rub oil into the ends of 
your hair. It’s rich in vitamins E and K so is perfect to nourish while you sleep. Hot-yoga fans also love applying a dollop of coconut oil to their hair before their Bikram yoga class, so the heat gets to work creating a hair-hydrating mask. Coconut oil also contains antifungal and antibacterial properties, so is perfect for those with a scalp condition – combine it with one of your favourite oils such as rose or lavender to leave hair scented.

Lucy Bee, creator of Lucy Bee Coconut Oil, and the author of Natural Beauty with Coconut Oil, says the benefits of the wonder oil are endless when it comes to beauty. ‘I love to use coconut oil as a natural beauty product, it’s great to take make-up off, moisturise your skin or condition your hair,’ she says.

‘For centuries, coconut oil has been used to keep skin soft, supple and well-hydrated. In fact, the fatty acids found in coconut oil mean it can be a brilliantly effective lip balm or night cream, particularly for anyone who suffers from dry skin. I also love using it as a body moisturiser, particularly after bathing as this helps to lock the moisture in. As well as the fact that the vitamin E in coconut oil can hydrate and nourish any tricky patches (scaly, dry legs, be gone!), you’ll also smell utterly delicious and totally tropical,’ she says.

Studies have also shown that coconut oil can effectively treat mild skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis, by boosting moisture and the lipid content of the skin.

Eating coconut oil or fresh wedges of coconut will deliver all the benefits.

It can also be a great substitute for expensive eye creams. Apply a thin layer around the eye area and let the fatty acids get to work to reinforce your skin’s protective barrier.

Hollywood actress and wellness guru Gwyneth says the oil is a staple in her home thanks to its versatility from cooking to mouthwash. ‘I use coconut oil a lot,’ she revealed to E! News. ‘I use it on my skin and in my cooking.’ The star also revealed she uses it as part of her dental regime. ‘I have started oil pulling, which is when you swish coconut oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes and it’s supposed to be great for oral health and making your teeth white.’

The sweet truth

There is also good news for those that like a fix of chocolate – nibbling on a piece of raw cacao or adding a tablespoon of it powdered to your smoothie in the morning can help build strong nails and promote clear skin as it detoxifies the liver, so forget the myth that chocolate causes breakouts.

‘Unlike regular chocolate, raw cacao’s benefits and nutrients are preserved because it is unheated,’ Kathleen says.

While feeding your skin with the above ingredients can boost its texture, one of the simplest ways for those with a busy lifestyle is to just munch on a handful of nuts each day – ranging from pistachios, which offer a nutritious hit of protein, fibre and unsaturated fat, to almonds, a tasty superfood high in vitamin E and good fats that benefit the skin and hair.

The magnesium in nuts can help prevent hair fall, while almond milk is rich in proteins and vitamins, helping hydrate and soften skin.

So on your next shopping trip remember that it isn’t only your body that will reap the rewards of healthy foods – your skin will too.

While many of us are aware of the common wonder foods that help us look and feel great, it’s worth considering these alternatives too

Yogurt: Grab a tub of Greek yogurt at your local supermarket; it can do a lot more than provide calcium for strong bones. It is an ideal beauty promoter, thanks to its protein content that will give you smooth skin. New York dermatologist Jeannette Graf says: ‘Milk dairy yogurt can enhance breakouts, but Greek yogurt contains probiotics that helps the colon eliminate waste, putting less stress on our skin to do the same.’

Soy: Not just an alternative to dairy, it’s packed with minerals and proteins that help protect your skin from hyperpigmentation.

Red bell peppers: We all know the power of vitamin C for reducing fine lines, but did you know that red peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges? Vitamin C helps boost collagen production and is a great antioxidant, so add these to your diet to turn back the clock.

Oysters: These plump delicacies work wonders 
for nails, hair and skin 
thanks to their zinc content, which helps the function of skin cells.

Anita Quade

Anita Quade