Love Food – a relationship for health
by Tracy Herbert
What you put on your plate is more important than what you put on your skin! I became interested in nutrition when I filled a vacancy as a sports coach for mature ladies, most of them with weight management problems, some diabetics and many with osteoporosis and arthritis. For me the interest was skin deep I was never happy with my skin, so whilst helping the ladies fulfil their weight management goals through nutrition and exercise, I decided to improve my own skin through nutrition and exercise.
The best approach is to eat a healthy balanced diet, drink plenty of water and always wear sunscreen. It’s not a matter of spending lots of money on the latest skin tonic and vitamins but to use them as additions that may be healthful to you. Most people are able to get their nutrients needed for healthful skin in a well balanced diet with the back up of a good quality multi vitamin for health insurance (especially when making dietary changes).
If you want fabulous skin that is glowing, vibrant and youthful, make sure you are putting healthful foods on your plate! – everything you eat becomes a part of your inner self and well being, but it is the whole fabric you’re wrapped in, the healthier on the inside, the benefits will show on the outside.
Skin cells damage easily if they are not kept in optimum condition. Some skins are dry, sallow and older looking than others – Why? Over time this happens as a result of starving your skin cells of moisture and nutrients. Some health experts say if your diet is missing certain foods other serious skin conditions will occur. These include acne and eczema which are a result of dietary misuse.
Foods for healthy skin complexions
High antioxidant content – Berries and plumbs, these seasonal fruits have a very high antioxidant content which will prevent free radical damage from daily sun exposure and protection from the environment. Skin cells need daily protection from the inside to reduce potential damage. Other vegetables with high antioxidant content are pinto beans, red kidney beans, prunes and pecan nuts
Essential Fatty Acids – (EFA) contribute to healthy skin by supporting the cells membrane, EFA’s act as a barrier for potential invaders, but will enable a pathway in for nutrients to be absorbed and continually extracting out waste from within the cells as required. Skin cells need to hold moisture so the cells membrane (outer wall) needs to be tough if you want healthy looking skin, any damage will result in deterioration (dry, wrinkly).
The same can be said throughout our bodies in the inflammatory process that results in degenerative disease if left unprotected our arteries will become damaged if not suitably protected with essential nutrients. EFA include Omega 3 & 6 both need to be kept in moderation and in balance to be effective, most people find it easy to include omega 6 sources include walnuts, flax seed oil and sea fish.
Healthy oils – Fats and oils you may link with unhealthy diets, what you need to know!
Good quality oils keep your skin lubricated and looking healthier. These oils are labelled ‘Cold Pressed oil’ or ‘Extra virgin oil’. Oils that are not good for you are the commercially produced processed oils that have added solvents so they can be heated several times before being bottled. This is where the nutrients are lost.
Cold pressed or extracted oils are heated once and bottled this keeping nutrients to a maximum strength. With all fats and oils they are high in calories and the recommended daily allowance in up to 2 tbsp. So when you reach for the butter and a knife to add a little taste to the fresh cooked vegetables, think again, this can be one area you can afford to lose in the quest to keep fat to a minimum.
Whole-wheat products – contain high levels of selenium for healthy skin cells. Health experts have said people with higher levels of selenium may not experience as much skin damage as those with lower levels, selenium can be found in whole-wheat products (cereals, turkey and brazil nuts).
The more whole-wheat products you consume the less likely you are to fill up on white flour goods (cakes, bread, pasta, sugar, rice & biscuits) items that interfere with insulin levels which result in acne and inflammation.
Water – This has a major role in health. Hydration of cells is very important to life. Without it you will die! How much is down to the individual, your skin depends on it and will reward you with glowing representation if you embrace this habit of daily replenishing. Water helps your cells move nutrients in to cells and removes toxins from cells to make it healthier and refreshed. The hydrated skin performs better when it can clearly sweat through its pores and will remain clearer and cleaner.
Green Tea – A drink that is most beneficial to skin cells and can easily replace other bad choices of beverages or stimulants (tea & coffee). The properties of green tea include high levels of antioxidants & anti-inflammatory properties to protect the body’s cell membranes. Green Tea will help reduce the risk of skin cancer from harmful ultra-violet light rays from the sun. There is a topical form of green tea that can be applied to the skin if you are not a green tea lover.
Vitamins for skin nutrition
Vitamin A – This vitamin is abundant in the core diet foods. If you have slightly flaky or dry skin it can be a result of deficient supply of this vitamin. Vitamin A is a maintenance and repair vitamin, fruits and vegetables are both excellent sources. Many skin care products include Vitamin A to reduce lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A or Beta-carotene (brightly coloured vegetables & fruits) these fruits and vegetables are associated with the reduced risk of the skin disorder ‘psoriasis’.
Vitamin B complex – for healthful skin vitamin B (biotin) this forms skin, nails and hair cells. Mild deficiencies can cause hair loss or itchy scaly skin reactions. Most diets are sufficient in Vitamin B as it can be found in (eggs, bananas & oats) you also have a natural supply in your body.
Vitamin C & E – both can help in the action against free radical damage caused by natural sunlight and environmental damage (smoke and pollution).
Make sure your diet includes Vitamin C with the inclusion of citrus fruits, broccoli, cauliflower and dark leafy vegetables. These additions will enhance the diet and replace losses through the skin. Vitamin E can be found in healthy oils such as olive oil and nut oils.
Minerals – Most people intake enough minerals without supplementing, minute amounts are required and if you drink spring water daily or wash your face with mineral water this will be enough.
Selenium helps protect your skin cells from sun damage this can be found in whole-wheat products. Check labels for 100% whole-wheat cereals and it can be found in eggs and sea food.
Zinc – This mineral can have dramatic effects in the treatment of acne. If you experience acne then you most likely have a deficiency in this mineral. You can find it in poultry, lean meats and sea food
What types of food you eat may change over the years, as an infant your parent controls the type and amount you consume. As adults we are responsible for our actions and become the main provider and food gatherer. This can be fun or a nightmare whichever way you choose to look at it. Either way it will constantly be a challenge of to buy or not to buy. It takes time to practice and try different foods you may not have had opportunity to try before. Trial and error is the best result. Mistakes can be costly but inspiring. You will develop a taste for certain foods on a regular basis as well as treat foods to be kept for special occasions. If you develop any changes in your skin surface (allergies, rashes and uneven patches) that cause concern you should get it checked by your Doctor it may be a result of a reaction to a type of food. Also upset stomach or vomiting may occur. There are well known foods that trigger allergies in the bodies of some sensitive immune systems.
When skin becomes dry and irritated and black heads and white heads appear you may be lacking in EFA. These provide a barrier for natural oil production in your skin cells, if the production process is not adequate it will source sebum oil, which results in the irritations and skin surface irregularities. The key to EFA’s is to maintain a balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6. You will find omega 6 plentiful in the common diet but you may struggle to get omega 3 as it is limited to cold water fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, flaxseed & safflower oil) these together in moderation and balance will keep your skin in order.
Constipation is also another well-known problem that may cause skin eruptions. If the bowels do not eliminate in the correct manner again some toxic waste is released through the skin in the form of minor eruptions. A malfunction of the hormones or the sebaceous glands can cause acne.
The skin is acting as a gateway through which the body eliminates these toxins and waste materials.
Many internal disorders resulting in skin eruptions are often brought about or exacerbated by incorrect eating habits or allergies to certain foods. If foods contain additives, preservatives these can often be the underlying culprits. So we see that skin disorders can be exacerbated by incorrect eating habits, which cause an internal imbalance.
The digestive system
This complex system regulates the level of nutrients from the food we consume that go in to your body through your cells and eliminates any toxins out through your cells. From your mouth to your colon there are many stages, your food needs to be utilised by enzyme action and broken down and separated to reach its destination. The destination being the colon where it spends most of its time waiting to be disposed of. This is when fibre content of foods are helpful. If there are to many toxins and not enough fibre at one time there could be trouble in the fact that excessive amounts of toxins may spill out and become reabsorbed by the body that may pose a risk to the stomach and its lining.
It is important that we recognise when we are stressed or sluggish because of what we eat or subject our bodies to and act appropriately.
Health goals are important, note any dietary changes you may be considering, this will give you inspiration when you have made progress and keep track of any further recommendations you need to make. Simple table form starting with a list of what you eat and when you eat on a daily basis for with (snack, drinks or quantities/portion sizes) and add a few healthy alternatives (fruits, nuts, vegetable sticks). Try this for one week. Over time you will develop a sense of what is working and what is not until you create a new menu with healthy options.
Over eating and under eating are disorders you will need to address when planning your meals.
You may need to consider what you stock in your cupboard. Fresh foods are best but need to be eaten a.s.a.p. for optimum nutrient levels to be consumed. It is recommended that you have at least three meals a day. Drink plenty of fresh water in between meals or herbal teas.
There are many books, charts and information available to help you include the main five categories of food essential for every day meal planning. These food groups are Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats, Vitamins and Minerals. Use the internet or go to the library or whole food market for information to display in your kitchen.
Carbohydrates – These become glucose in the blood stream that your body uses as a source of energy. Refined carbohydrates such as white four (pasta, bread) white rice, sugar and white potatoes raise your blood sugar quickly and the body responds by making insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels by removing the glucose from the blood. A small amount of glucose is stored
in the muscles and liver as glycogen, the excess amounts of glucose will be stored in the fat cells. A carbohydrate addict will often lose their sensitivity to insulin as a result. Insulin is the fat storing hormone.
Proteins – where are proteins? Animal and vegetable sources are available. These include meat, cheese, eggs, seafood and poultry. Beans, brown rice and corn. Protein is made up of amino- acids that the body uses for energy or to sustain muscle, build enzymes and hormones. If your body is deprived of quality proteins the body will give up its stored proteins (muscles)
Fats – Where do fats come from? Animal and vegetable sources. The body uses sources such as meat and processed foods should be kept to a minimum, however vegetable fats are better for you in small doses, a certain amount is required for cell membrane strengthening.
Vitamins – Where do vitamins come from? Multi vitamins occur in small amounts in many foods, fruits and vegetables especially. Our attention will be on natural sources found in food for optimum health benefits.
Minerals – Where do minerals come from? Minute quantities of major minerals necessary for constitution of bones and teeth, salts that control the composition of bodily fluids inside and outside of the body cells, they support the many enzyme functions for the digestive process and the body’s response to energy. Minerals are present in water, milk products, eggs, fish, cabbage and prunes.
Our bodies react to our diets, it is a survival mechanism. As we begin to eat healthier with less junk foods our bodies become more efficient and we lose weight. Your body will notice the changes and adjust to them over time, if you replace junk foods (processed food) with whole foods (fruit and vegetables) your body weight will maintain but your metabolic rate will increase (amount of energy your body burns calculated in calories) this will make you feel energised and become more active. Digestion is a high-energy activity, which will take time to do a complete job. It takes 2-3 days for your body to notice your dietary changes. Keep an eye on your health and well-being during any changes you make, stay positive and remember it takes 3 months to give up a bad habit. Many people fail when they don’t see instant results but a positive attitude and belief in yourself is key to success.
Exercise and circulation
All activities that get you out of breathe and a little bit sweaty, your heart rate slightly elevated are considered exercise. All abilities can perform some type of exercise on a daily basis, either chair exercise, housework or walking to running. What ever the activity it can reduce the risk of heart disease, it can lower your blood pressure, help if you are trying to lose weight, it can reduce stress levels and improve your fitness energy levels. Regular exercise will have an impact on you skin, it will enhance a healthy glow as exercise improves the circulation of blood through the heart and transports oxygen and nutrients to your cells more efficiently. Toxins are constantly being removed as the body cleanses naturally.
So if all that makes sense then what are you waiting for, start today with an activity and a healthy diet there will be no stopping you! Keep a bottle of water handy to hydrate during activity and after. Enhance external cleansing by regular bathing and using a loofah to clear away and release dead skin cell from building up and toxins being expelled to reveal fresh new skin.
Planning a balanced meal
Planning a meal that is nutritionally adequate is essential at least once a day. The meal itself needs to be palatable and nutritionally effective. It will provide adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and energy. You should include a varied diet containing a variety of foods. How much will depend on your appetite and energy requirements. A whole meal should contain
- Protein (poultry, fish, eggs, wholemeal bread, nuts and beans)
- Vitamins and minerals (Fruit and vegetables)
- Energy (Carbohydrates – not exceeding amounts)
Experts have proven foods high in antioxidants are essential in protecting us during ageing from our own metabolism.
Antioxidants – What do they do?
They protect our cells against chronic diseases and from daily wear and tear.
They keep our immune system activated for increasing our strength and health.
They maintain healthy levels of blood sugars.
They increase brain activity.
They improve your inflammatory reactions and support in healthy heart functions.
Antioxidants attach themselves and overpower free radical molecules that are trying to cause cell damage and challenge our immune system.
Where are they? Antioxidants are abundant in herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables (especially in the onion family) it is worth adding a little culinary touch to your favourite dish to ensure you are optimising your opportunities to a healthy balanced meal.
Simple ways to improve antioxidant levels
- Keep fresh herbs in the garden or kitchen for daily use in salads, soups, sandwiches and yoghurts.
- Make pesto or buy in handy size portions to use as an alternative to spread in a sandwich or on crackers etc.
- Make colourful salsas with chilli, mango, Sun ripe tomatoes.
- Use honey as a sweetener, it is a natural unrefined sweetener (dark honey is best)
- Herbal teas and infusions are abundant in antioxidants.
We need to spring clean our digestive system from time to time as modern life troughs many pollutions at us frequently and we are surrounded by temptations of bad foods that we become reliant upon. Toxins need to be helped out some times as they tend to build up a lot faster than our bodies can adequately deal with. Our bodies cleanse naturally but to help improve circulation, skin imperfections and weight control we can help out.
Toxins come from various sources, additives, stimulants, medications, synthetic chemicals and leaching compounds. We constantly inhale and absorb them. Stress is another form of workload our bodies have to deal with that slows it down as we cram as much activity in to our lives as we can.
How do we cleanse? – This is the time when we avoid certain foods and beverages that will challenge your digestive system, blood pressure, lungs, kidneys, liver, skin and give them a well deserved rest. Focus on deep breathing and sleep. Relaxation even if for ten minutes give yourself a chance to unwind. This diet of whole food will be for 5-7 days only where you will only drink water, herbal teas, vegetable and fruit juices, eat only brown rice, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables. During this time you will notice the body react with natural withdrawal symptoms (headaches, furry tongue and hunger) from the foods your body has grown to expect (refined sugar, Yeast and chocolate) it will take 4-5 days to get over this and begin to feel light, energetic and refreshed. Your digestive system will be free to operate more effectively.
Health and beauty begin with a healthy well balanced diet and it should include health experts say a regular amount of Super Foods – what are they? Foods with high levels of antioxidants, fibre and nutrients.
Antioxidants – for skin cell protection from free radical damage and rejuvenation of new cells. These food include Berries, Tropical fruits, green tea are among the group with the highest levels of antioxidants.
Fibre – This f work you can use to your advantage as it aids digestion, improves absorption of nutrients, increases insulin balance and makes you feel full for longer and decrease risk of colon disease.
Nutrients – Vitamins and minerals are components of these foods Vitamin A, B complex, C, protein and omega 3.
Main groups of super foods include: berries, dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale), pomegranates, all onion varieties (leeks, garlic), grains, herbs, spices, green tea & honey.
There are further groups of good quality antioxidants including all fruits and vegetables, sea vegetables that can be harvested in powdered form available from whole food markets if you wish to explore less popular varieties, these are an excellent addition to soups, salads, stir fry and grain dishes.
Plant based foods are naturally highly coloured and good flavoured have a natural resistance to disease, it makes sense to include these foods to our daily menu and an excellent reason to share this knowledge with the wider family, friends and colleagues.
I have experimented with whole foods, super foods and raw food in fact a range of new foods in the quest to improve my skin surface – it has improved overall but not to the extent that I had hoped. I attended several food festivals looking for some inspiration to help me write about my experiences, I found some very nice foods and some very nice people who share an interest in food and alternative ways to make people aware of what is available. I approached a table, which operated Kinesiology taster sessions. Not food but an opportunity to try something new. I sampled the session and discussed the reason for my curiosity in the subject. I found that it is not always a cure that you find when you are trying so hard but it is the way you choose to look at the problem in a new way with greater understanding and when you accept it for what it is knowing you have tried your best. I have spoken to many ladies about their weight management, skin conditions and various imperfections that they feel free to discuss but they all appear to enjoy life attempting to improve their health and perfect their body’s shape and size in the fitness community. This to me is very encouraging to be part of.
Solving Skin Problems ~ Ricki Ostrov
Manual of Nutrition ~ Ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food
Herbs The essential 21st century guide ~ Rosie Atkins