The secret ingredients for healthier hair and skin (eat this, not that!)Written by MamaSezz Team
Want beautiful skin and thick shiny hair? Stop looking to topical skincare routines and focus on beauty from the inside out. When your health is in balance, your hair and skin typically are, too.
So how can you get started? Look to the foods you eat for healthy hair and skin.
An anti-inflammatory diet, loaded with healthy fats and antioxidants, will surely make your skin glow, but avoiding foods that harm our skin (and health) is equally important.
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Beauty from the inside out
Why from the inside out?
Clean eating is the new skincare routine. And it doesn't get any cleaner than plant-based foods.
3 ways eating a plant-based diet helps your skin and hair thrive
1. A plant-based diet helps detox your system from the inside out.
Our skin can tell us a lot about the state of our health. Much like tonsils, our skin will react when something isn’t quite right internally.
Ever get hives? That's your body's way of telling you that you've got an allergy. And if your skin is reacting and inflamed, chances are your internal organs are inflamed as well. And sure, a topical cream may help relieve the itchiness and inflammation, but it won't prevent the internal inflammation. The best way to heal from hives and prevent a flare up? Avoid the trigger allergen.
Did you know many common foods promote inflammation and make skin flare ups like eczema and acne worse?
2. A plant-based diet boosts longevity.
Aging is beautiful and natural, and everyone experiences it at a different pace. But there's a common misconception that being uncomfortable in your own skin and becoming sick and tired is just an unfortunate byproduct of aging. It doesn't have to be this way!
Sore muscles and joints, digestive discomfort, fatigue, memory loss, and damaged skin can be influenced by lifestyle.
What steps can you take to boost your longevity? Meditation, diet, and exercise are all proven to slow aging. And by making the switch to a whole food plant-based diet you can extend your life by an average of 7-10 years with an improved quality of life.
3. A plant-based diet helps us make healthier choices.
While adding nutrient-dense foods to your diet will promote a natural glow, eliminating other toxins is just as important. Habits like sleep deprivation, getting to many UV rays, smoking and heavy drinking, and lack of exercise can all play a role in damaging skin cells and putting you at risk of disease which will be reflected in your skin. The good news is that when you choose clean eating with a plant-based diet, making healthy choices across the board becomes easier.
What does "clean eating" even mean?
Ok, so the term "clean eating" is thrown around a lot on the internet and by wellness gurus...but isn't always clearly defined. This leaves much of what clean eating is up for interpretation. And if you don't know what "clean eating" is how can you reap it's benefits?
When we talk about eating clean on the MamaSezz blog, we really mean eating nutrient-dense whole plant-based foods.
Here are our top 6 hacks for healthier hair and skin.
1. Kick inflammation with Vitamins C and E
What exactly is oxidation and why do we want to counter it with antioxidants?
Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs naturally in the body. When oxidation is not met with antioxidants, or occurs at high rates, it produces an excessive amount of free radicals. Free radicals are unattached electrons that are highly unstable and reactive. They can cause accelerated aging, inflammation, and disease. To stabilize these free radicals and to neutralize the oxidation process, we need antioxidants.
To put it in simpler terms: think of your body as an apple.
If you slice up an apple and leave it on the counter for half an hour or so, it quicky browns due to its exposure to oxygen. Apples are not particularly high in antioxidants, so the inside of the apple oxidizes pretty fast when exposed to air.
If you want to prevent that apple from oxidizing or turning brown, you might toss it in a little bit of lemon juice first, an antioxidant-rich substance. Voila! Your apple stays fresh - no brown spots or "aging." The antioxidants from the lemon juice stabilizes the process of oxidation and neutralizes free radicals.
The same process happens in your body! The more antioxidants you take in, the more likely you are to preserve your cells.
Why lemons? Vitamin C is an extremely antioxidant-rich vitamin and lemons are loaded with it! Colorful fruits and veggies tend to store the most vitamin C, especially red peppers.
Just 1 red pepper contains 100% of your DV of vitamin C!
Meat and dairy, on the other hand, begin oxidizing the second the animal dies, or the product is extracted from the animal. It continues to oxidize at a fast rate, especially when heated and cooked. If you’re looking to settle those free radicals, turn to fruits and veggies.
The list of anti-aging antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables goes on and on: polyphenols, flavonoids, ubiquinol, and botanical antioxidants such as curcumin, resveratrol, and green tea polyphenols.
2. Prevent skin damage with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Have you read that fish oil pills are great for upping your omega-3 intake? But where do you think those fish get all that omega-3 from? Sea vegetables!
If you want to avoid mercury, dioxins, pesticides, and PCB’s that come with eating fish, we suggest going straight to the source and eat sea vegetables instead.
Kelp, nori, spirulina, and algae are all fantastic sources of Omega-3s (DHA and EPA). Although both DHA and EPA Omega-3 fatty acids are important, you don’t need fish to get them.
How to get omega-3s from plants: Load up on flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, soy, or kidney beans to get your daily dose of Omega-3s (ALA). Your body will naturally convert ALA to DPA and EPA (which are incredible for your skin!) and for efficient, glowing results, add a pinch of spirulina to your breakfast smoothie.
What about Omega-6?
Although both are important, Omega-3s and Omega-6s work best when either stable with a ration of 1:1 or favored towards Omega-3 (>1:1). Omega-6s are found in almost all processed foods, so focus on loading up on Omega-3s!
How do Omega-3s promote natural beauty?
Skin Health: Omega-3s maintain your skin's structure by reducing inflammation, while preventing damage from external factors.
Brain Health: Helps to prevent Alzheimer's disease and reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and ADHD.
Eye Health: DHA is important part of your retina and a lack of it can cause serious vision problems, including macular degeneration.
Heart Health: Omega-3s can reduce plaque buildup, triglycerides, blood clots, and inflammation while reducing blood pressure in increasing your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
Anti-inflammatory: Reduce inflammation, one of the main causes of disease and premature aging.
Others Include: Joint and Bone Health, promote healthy cognitive function in early development, autoimmune prevention and repair, reduce cancer risk
3. Swap retinol creams for Beta Carotene foods
Beta Carotene, found in high concentrations in orange foods, is the strongest of the carotenoids - which are pigments produced by plants. Our bodies use beta carotene to produce and store vitamin A, a nutrient that is often found in anti-aging skincare products (retinol). Its anti-oxidative effects trap and prevent free radicals, which we just learned helps to destroy carcinogens and protects the skin from UV damage.
Get your Recommended Dietary Allowance of beta carotene with just 1 cup a day:
1 cup of sweet potatoes: 123% RDA
1 cup of carrots: 120% RDA
1 cup cooked leafy greens: 105% RDA
4. Protect your skin from the sun with lycopene
Another powerful carotenoid is lycopene, presenting itself in the form of red fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes are an especially excellent source of lycopene. Similar to beta carotene, lycopene can prevent oxidative UV damage...so it's kind of like sun screen that you eat.
Lycopene is best paired with fat, so make sure to eat it in conjunction with nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, or coconut.
5. Avoid wrinkles and skin sagging with selenium
Selenium is yet another powerful antioxidant. Like Vitamin C, selenium works with Vitamin E to protect cell membranes and fight free radicals. Protecting cells can reduce physical signs of skin damage such as wrinkles and skin sagging. Beyond skin, selenium helps promote a healthy thyroid, which regulates metabolism.
Luckily for us, it’s not hard to get your recommended daily value of selenium; consume 1 brazil nut to get 174% of your DV. Over-consuming selenium can lead to selenium toxicity, so do not exceed 1 brazil nut a day.
6. Make lifestyle changes for supple skin
- Relaxation is a key component to healthy, clear, supple skin. Yep - the secret to healthy skin is chilling out. Something as simple as 15 minutes of meditation a day can help to suppress stress hormones and oxidative stress, not to mention reduce the signs of aging, reduce the risk for developing diseases, and increase cognitive function. Many find spirituality or religion to offer similar benefits if practiced regularly.
- A sense of community can lead to longevity. Whether your tribe is a close-knit family, friend group, neighborhood, or shared interests group, this personal connectedness will reduce stress, leading to a healthier you, inside and out.
- Get enough sleep! Sleep is crucial. When we sleep our bodies repair. If you are go-go-going all the time, your body has no time to cleanse, repair and reset.
- Hydrate! Drink loads of water. Dehydration leads to premature wrinkles. Try to drink 2 glasses for water when you first wake up, and then at least 6 more throughout the day. If you want to make sure you’re getting enough water, pour yourself a pitcher of a minimum of 64oz of water, and don’t go to bed until you’ve finished it. After that first night of chugging half a pitcher at 9 pm (and consequently making frequent bathroom trips in the night) you won't make that mistake again. Add some lemon juice or a tea bag to your water for an antioxidant boost.
5 Tips For Glowing Skin:
By The MamaSezz Team
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