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Top beauty diets and foods


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Fad diets come and go and are detrimental to both our health and our beauty. These fashionable approaches to eating can sell millions of books with promises of a slimmer physique if you replace this meal with that shake or cut carbs and reduce calories. Yet, as any good nutritionist will tell you, our health and our skin can pay the price of these unhealthy diet plans in the long term.

Among the more highly publicised diets, however, there are a select few that have been proven to promote better skin, more vibrant health and — as a bonus — a smaller waistline.

While not every diet suits everybody, if you want to rid your skin of rashes, reduce wrinkles and attain a clear, dewy complexion with an unmistakable glow, here are some of the best eating plans to adopt or incorporate into your day.

Raw food

Once considered the diet of vegan hippies, raw food has garnered some mainstream love over the past few years, thanks to its reported healing and health-giving properties.

Those who have adopted the lifestyle report healthy weight loss along with boundless energy and clearer skin. These welcome attributes come thanks to the life-giving enzymes that remain intact when food is left in its raw state and don’t deplete the body’s own stores as quickly as when food is cooked.

According to raw food nutritionist and beauty foods expert David Wolfe, who explores the beauty food revolution in his online course through The BodyMind Institute, eating raw is far from a new trend. “Cooking food has had something significant to do with our ‘fall from grace’ as cooking adds all kinds of chemistries to foods we may not be designed for,” he says.

“[It] destroys B vitamins, eradicates different forms of vitamin C and E, destroys/damages amino acids such as tryptophan, dramatically increases the possibility of obesity, directly separates us from our natural food instincts and Mother Nature and allows for the introduction of all different kinds of nutritional deficiency conditions. When we [take] a balanced, raw-food-based approach to diet we begin to recapture our original, beautiful, natural, spiritual, joy-filled, ennobled state of being.”

RECIPE: Green Goddess Salad

Chef Russell James is known for his delicious raw fare, from hearty salads to go-back-for-more desserts. Discover more of Russell’s recipes at therawchef.com.

Serves: 2

Broccoli & Cauliflower ‘Couscous’
¼ head cauliflower
½ head broccoli
2 tbsp dill
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
¼ tsp nutritional yeast

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor, to the point where the mixture looks like couscous. Set aside.

Green Goddess Dressing
¾ cup cashews, soaked for 20 minutes
2 tbsp fresh tarragon
¼ cup loosely packed parsley
½ clove garlic
1 tbsp chives
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp nori or dulse flakes
Water to blend

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.

Spirulina Spinach
2 good handfuls spinach
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp spirulina
2 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches salt

Massage all ingredients in a bowl.

Assembly
1 head of your favourite salad green, such as romaine or a few little gem lettuces. Rocket, watercress and lamb’s lettuce are also good
1 avocado
Few sprigs of dill

In a large bowl, tear your lettuce or chosen leaves and add some of the Green Goddess dressing, working it through so that all the leaves are covered. Dice the avocado and add to the bowl, quickly mixing again.

Take a large plate and lay down a bed of the leaves, dressing and avocado. Next, layer on the spirulina spinach. Once you have that, add the broccoli & cauliflower couscous.

Finish with the sprigs of dill and serve.

Smoothies

Smoothies are one of the easiest — and most important — meals to add into your every day. Not only can you pack a heap of health-promoting and beauty-boosting vegetables (and a little fruit) into one glass but smoothies also mean you don’t have to change any other part of your usual food routine if you don’t want to; it’s what you’re adding in that counts.

Green vegie smoothies offer vital nutrients and minerals and also work as an intestinal broom, cleaning your insides as the high fibre they contain makes its way from mouth to stomach and beyond. They’re also a great way to incorporate beautifying superfoods into your diet, such as spirulina, chia seeds and wheatgrass.

RECIPE: Beauty Booster Smoothie

Serves: 2–3

1 cucumber, diced
1 large avocado, peeled
1 cup hemp milk
1 tbsp chia seeds
3 dates
5 ice cubes

Put all the ingredients into a high-powered blender. Blend until smooth. Add more milk if you prefer a thinner consistency.

Juices

Fresh juices are considered fast-working beauty elixirs, as they take little of the body’s energy to digest. Vegetable juices in particular infuse the bloodstream and cells with key nutrients that can result in clearer, younger-looking skin.

Drinking a fresh juice every morning is a great idea if you want to keep wrinkles at bay and clear the complexion. Be sure to drink your juice as soon as possible after making it, as it can quickly spoil.

RECIPE: Clean & Clear Juice

½ pineapple
½ cucumber
½ apple

Juice all ingredients. Add a little spring water for extra hydration and a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt, as healthy salts can help the nutrients penetrate the cells at a deeper level.

Alkaline diet

Getting a grasp of how to keep your diet in a healthy alkaline range can reap big beauty rewards. According to Dr Robert O Young, author of bestseller The pH Miracle, living in an acidic state ravages our overall health, showing up as dis-eases while resulting in skin issues and early ageing.

Food, lifestyle and environment are the biggest culprits in acidifying the body. However, when you keep your blood pH on the slightly alkaline side — between 7.365 and 7.4 — results will happen.

The human body will do anything to maintain a proper balance. This means when it enters an acidic state it will mine minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium from bones, teeth and organs in order to neutralise the acid. Too much acid is also a playground for yeast, fungus and viruses.

“Eating an alkaline diet rich in spouted grains, seeds, nuts, green vegetables and fruits is the best way to maintain the delicate pH balance of the blood and tissues and the alkaline design of the body,” says Young. “This will then help to prevent any and all sickness and disease. It will also help to improve the quality and quantity of life well beyond 100 years.”

According to Young, healthy foods aren’t the only way to stay in the ideal pH range and stay young: “It’s also important to manage stress, stay positive, quit drinking alcohol, quit smoking, laugh out loud, get and stay married and share a hug.”

RECIPE: Broccoli & Avocado Soup

Serves: 4

2 cups vegetable stock (yeast-free)
1 brown onion, chopped
2–3 broccoli florets
1 avocado
1 green or red capsicum
1 celery stalk
Celtic sea salt, to taste
Add cumin, basil, fresh coriander or your favourite spices to taste

Heat vegetable stock, but do not boil. Add onion and broccoli and warm for several minutes.

Put warm soup in blender, add avocado, capsicum and celery and puree until the soup is creamy. Add more water if needed.

Season and flavour with spices as desired and serve warm.

Fermented foods

Our skin is reliant on our gut health and adding fermented foods to your everyday meals can offer big beauty bonuses. Rich in naturally occurring probiotics, fermented foods are potent anti-ageing tools, thanks to their ability to settle inflammatory skin conditions and promote general skin wellbeing from within.

Regularly consuming fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut and drinks such as kefir can help heal blemishes, ward off rashes and repair damaged cells. Dermatologists suggest applying the juice from fermented plant-based foods directly onto the skin for an instant pick-me-up. This external use nourishes the epidermis and the skin takes on a vibrant and youthful glow. However, it’s when fermented foods and drinks are put in the diet that true and lasting beauty benefits are seen.

Fermented foods and probiotics also assist with better digestion and absorption of nutrients, which will in turn improve skin appearance.

RECIPE: Cabbage Rejuvelac

An easy way to up your intake of good bacteria is by making cabbage rejuvelac, a sweet-tasting drink made by fermenting purple or green cabbage. Adding lactobacteria to your diet has many health benefits, including better digestion and clearer skin.

If you’ve made good-quality rejuvelac it will taste slightly sweet. Poor-quality rejuvelac is easy to spot thanks to a bad odour and taste. If this is the case, throw out the batch and start again. It’s also important to use only high-quality water when making it, so rather than tap water go for spring water where possible, or water that’s been distilled or filtered or undergone reverse osmosis.

Try this simple recipe from chef Natasha Kyssa’s Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual.

3½ cups purified water
6 loosely packed cups fresh organic cabbage, coarsely chopped

Add water and cabbage to blender and start blending at low speed for 30 seconds. Advance to high speed and blend for another 30 seconds until well blended. Pour into a clean Mason jar (or glass jug), cover lightly with a cloth (don’t seal) and let stand at room temperature for three days.

Strain off liquid rejuvelac using a nut-milk bag or strainer. Refrigerate liquid rejuvelac and compost the pulp — all the nutrients are in the liquid.

Cabbage rejuvelac takes three days to mature. It will keep one week in the fridge.

Best beauty minerals

  • Zinc. If you suffer from hair loss, acne and other skin-related issues, zinc could be missing in your diet. This mighty mineral promotes cell repair, division and growth as well as production of white blood cells. A powerful cleanser, it clean sweeps the liver, repairs tissues and oxygenates the body while it’s at it.
  • Sulphur. If it’s glowing skin and gorgeous hair you seek, add sulphur to your every day. Sulphur is an essential mineral within the connective tissues of the body, which in turn support and connect all the body’s organs. Sulphur also drives nutrients in and out of cells and helps regulate blood sugar, strengthen the immune system and repair tissues. It’s also responsible for rebuilding keratin and collagen — important ingredients to foster glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails.
  • Silicon. Many nutritionists list silicon as one of the best beauty secrets around, thanks to its ability to keep cells walls “elastic”, thereby preventing early ageing.

Best beauty foods

Adding foods that boast high concentrations of the above minerals, as well as iron and magnesium, can offer big beauty benefits.

From avocado to turmeric, foods considered beautifying are seen as such largely because of the alkalising effect they have on the body. Beauty foods contain high levels of antioxidants as well and are also well regarded for their anti-parasitical and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Avocado. This super beauty food boasts high concentrations of skin-loving vitamins E and C and oleic acid. Avocado also contains high amounts of lutein, which works as an antioxidant, protecting the skin for UVB damage.
  • Aloe vera is believed to be a food of long-lasting youth and rapid healing. The anti-inflammatory power in acute inflammation is one of aloe vera’s best-known actions. You can use its gel topically or add it to your daily juice.
  • Bee pollen is composed of 22 amino acids with higher amounts of the eight essential amino acids than most high protein foods. It’s rich in B-complex, vitamins C, D and E, lecithin, cysteine, RNA, DNA, good calcium, magnesium, beta carotene and selenium. It reduces the production of histamine and lowers the allergic response. Bee pollen improves beauty as it helps clear acne and reverses ageing and wrinkling. Athletes take it to increase strength, endurance, energy and speed.
  • Cacao is listed as the world’s top antioxidant food. Its beautifying properties come from its high levels of magnesium, chromium, iron and manganese. It’s also rich in tryptophan, serotonin, anandamide and the “love chemical” PEA and is known to extend life.
  • Coconut oil. The most versatile Beauty food, coconut oil is high in antioxidants and helps control blood sugar levels, assists the thyroid gland and repairs the skin. Eat it straight off the spoon, blend it into smoothies, use it for high-heat cooking and smother it all over the skin following a bath or shower. Coconut oil also naturally contains a sun protection factor of approximately 4.
  • Cucumber. A powerful internal cleanser, cucumber fosters smoother, clearer skin thanks to the high levels of silicon found in the vegetable’s skin. Juice or blend, but always choose organic.
  • Figs. Alkalising and high in minerals such as calcium, figs are great for the digestion thanks to their large amounts of fibre. When the digestion is working efficiently and the gut itself is healed, clearer skin is guaranteed.
  • Hemp seeds. One of the most nutritionally complete foods, high-protein hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids. Their omega-3 and -6 properties promote healthy skin.
  • Macadamia nuts are high in selenium, zinc and fatty acids and highly beneficial to the skin.
  • Pumpkin seeds. Mineral-rich and a great source of B vitamins, pumpkin seeds also boast phytonutrients and fatty oils, which help foster clear skin.
  • Turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice, is known for its antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties. It’s also revered for its ability to purify blood, which is essential for clear skin.

 

Shannon Dunn is a writer, eco beauty editor and EFT practitioner. Find out more at ecobeautyeditor.com or contact her at shannon@ecobeautyeditor.com.



 

Shannon Dunn

Shannon Dunn is a journalist, author and writer who specialises in holistic wellness, self-empowerment and natural beauty — from the inside out. The mum-of-one is founder of the popular holistic beauty blog Eco Beauty Editor and a conscious public relations company, Communeco. When she’s not writing and spending time with her family, Shannon can be found sweating it up at her local hot yoga studio.