Some say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, but what constitutes beauty to some may not to others. A good personality and a glossy head of hair are sometimes all it takes to be perceived as very beautiful. But in truth, attractiveness and good looks are a personal matter and as any fine-looking women will tell you, lots of thought, money, time, and of course anxiety can go into making one look beautiful for those special moments. Of late though, there is a considerable shift to a more ‘natural’ look, with greater emphasis on looking younger. That said, it was good to see just recently some distinguished women happy to be photographed with no face makeup at all and accepting the ageing process with more grace than previously seen.
As it relates to skin care products, they have come a long way over the years. Research has shown that actually there is a lot of goodness and anti-aging properties in natural plant products such as Aloe Vera, Argan oil and Olive oil, and today some skin care products are bringing us the benefit of these natural ingredients.
But can we rely on skin care products alone to stay beautiful and youthful and glowing?
There is definitely a place for an excellent moisturiser in the bathroom cabinet, and perhaps a few other lotions and potions once we reach a certain age. But, perhaps, because there is an abundance of cosmetic support within the beauty industry, we might be tempted to forget that true beauty comes from within and so the old adage ‘we are what we eat’ is equally important.
Food is of course our fuel for life energy and good health, and eating a correct balance of foods will also feed our skin all the vital nutrients through internal digestion to keep it looking young, healthy and glowing. There are specific types of foods that help us achieve naturally beautiful skin and are crucial in keeping the signs of aging at bay, but in equal measure there are unhealthy behavioural habits that will be detrimental to healthy skin. Sleep for example, is vital. Seven hours of ‘beauty sleep’ is the least we need to prevent looking tired which automatically ages us. Alcohol, drugs, smoking and excessive sunbathing are all really harmful for the skin.
However, as it relates to nutritional intake, all foods that are rich in vitamin C such as blackcurrants, blueberries, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, green leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli, all feed and nurture the skin. These foods aid in the production of collagen that strengthens the skin capillaries.
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega -3 and -6) are found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon as well as plant sources like linseed and flax oil, avocado, nuts, - all excellent for skin texture and helping to prevent dry skin.
Vitamin E, found in avocado pears, hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds, is essential for keeping our skin healthy and young. The magic is in the antioxidant activity which is crucial for protecting skin cells from the ultra violet rays and pollutants that damage our skin every day. We cannot underestimate the amount of damage from free radicals encountered everyday. In fact most skin care products will contain vitamin E.
Zinc which is found in foods like liver (calves liver is best), pumpkin seeds, lentils, brown rice, oats, almonds, sardines and wheatgerm is also a remedy for skin damage.
Vitamin A which is found in liver (calves liver is best), eggs, carrots, spinach, yellow peppers, oily fish (sardines & mackerel), milk and cereals that are fortified with zinc, all contribute to helping new skin to grow.
We need Iron to keep skin tone up and this is found in many foods that constitute a varied balanced diet, so just add a small handful of dried apricots & sesame seeds (which contain iron) to your daily intake to improve skin tone.
Vitamin B2 (in fact all the B vitamins are crucial for good skin), gives your skin a healthy glow. Again liver is a good source, but cheese and eggs as well as Marmite are also excellent.
Water – It goes without saying that drinking plenty of water is absolutely fundamental to rehydrate our skin. Teas, coffee and juices do not count in the recommended eight glasses a day.
Finally, it is recommended that these essential vitamins and minerals come in their natural form, so we are talking actual food. Relying on supplements is not suggested. Start now and Good Luck!
Yvonne Wake Public Health Nutritionist