Eat a healthier diet for natural beauty
Want gorgeous, glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails? The secret doesn't lie in whatever complex sounding ingredient the latest skincare brands are including in their products this week – it's true when they say, 'you are what you eat'. Many commercial skincare products are packed with unpronounceable chemicals that can be toxic when absorbed by your body. Eating a well-balanced diet is about more than making your body healthy on the inside, it can help you to look great on the outside too. Our bodies need a daily cocktail of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients to stay looking good, from hair to skin and nails to teeth.
Provided you're eating a nutritionally balanced diet that's packed with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, you should be getting all the nutrition you need, but you could always take a supplement, if you're concerned. Keep reading, as we've sussed out which foods will boost your natural beauty.
Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse. These little purple berries are packed with flavonoids that can shield the body against harmful free radicals. Munching on blueberries can help to prevent premature ageing. Antioxidants include selenium, lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E. Ageing naturally causes oxidative damage to your skin (as it's exposed to oxygen), and antioxidants can help to repair cell damage and protect your skin.
Did we mention that blueberries are also delicious and naturally low in calories? Try adding them to a smoothie or our ultimate granola, bake some blueberry muffins or just enjoy a handful as a snack.
Walnuts are one of the best sources of vitamin E and selenium around, two powerful antioxidants that help to enhance your immune system and protect your skin. Walnuts are also high in protein and packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that help to keep skin glowing. Selenium can also help to fight depression and boost your mood; happier people always look healthier! Walnuts are an ideal protein-packed snack; enjoy a handful of nuts or sprinkle them on salads, soups or your breakfast granola.
Gorgeous green smoothies
For a healthier body both inside and out, dark leafy greens are the answer. If you're not a fan of kale or spinach for dinner, why not try our green smoothie recipe for a great start to your day or as a post-workout snack? Greens such as kale and spinach are rich in iron, bioflavins, antioxidants, cartenoids and vitamins C, A and B6. Spinach has natural anti-inflammatory properties which helps skin to glow – a green smoothie a day boosts your complexion naturally and will leave you feeling energised!
There's a reason many Japanese women have such clear, soft skin – the secret is nori! Nori seaweed is high in omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation that can cause skin ageing, protecting your skin from the environment. Pick up sheets of nori at your local supermarket and make your own vegetable or salmon sushi for a healthy lunch. This is a great way to increase your intake of vegetables and oily fish.
Sprouts and flowers
Cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage may not be amongst your favourite vegetables, but these can all help to support the female endocrine system, balancing your hormone levels. An imbalance of hormones can lead to breakouts and acne, so including these regularly in your diet helps care for your skin and banish breakouts naturally. Check out some of our recipes such as cauliflower pizza, if you need some inspiration.
Vitamin A helps to promote healthy vision and enables your eyes to adjust to low light levels at night time; so your mum wasn't lying when she told you eating your carrots will help you to see in the dark! Vitamin A can also help the whites of your eyes to appear brighter and healthier. Excellent sources include carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and apricots. Whip up a batch of healthy sweet potato wedges for dinner and enjoy healthy vision at any age.
We love natural Greek yogurt – it's high in protein to fill you up and it tastes great with blueberries or other fruit. But did you know it's also packed with amino acids, which can help to banish dark under-eye circles? Getting plenty of sleep can help to keep dark circles at bay, but if you're planning a late night, snack on Greek yogurt earlier in the day to keep your under-eye area looking rested.
Last week, we raved about chickpeas – this week kidney beans are our wonder food of choice! Kidney beans are packed with zinc, iron, biotin and protein, all of which can boost the health of your hair. A biotin deficiency can lead to brittle hair, but don't reach for those shampoos that promise to nourish your hair with biotin – they do little for your locks. Instead, include kidney beans in your chilli or tacos, or add them to a Mexican-inspired salad.
They may not be something you want to indulge in every day – and for some people, the texture is hard to swallow – but oysters are packed with zinc, which can help to control how much sebum (oil) your skin produces. So rather than stripping your skin with harsh acne skincare products, regulate oil production from the inside out, to help prevent breakouts and leave your skin clear.
You already know that red peppers taste great with hummus, guacamole, and practically ever other dip on the planet, but did you know that they're also one of the best sources of antioxidant vitamin C? Research shows that people who eat more vitamin C have the most beautiful skin; but don't start popping those vitamin pills just yet. It's best to get your vitamins from a natural source, so pack some raw red pepper slices as a mid-afternoon snack to take to work; great after a lunchtime workout.
Time to get glowing
By spending your money on healthier food and avoiding chemical-laden cleaners, toners and moisturisers, which can often cost the earth, you'll notice an improvement in your skin and your overall health. Eating well can boost your mood, improve your energy levels and help you to feel more confident, and you'll save money on skincare which you can spend on ingredients for recipes such as our courgette pasts with creamy avocado sauce or healthy soups.
Eating a nutritionally balanced diet goes hand in hand with regular exercise – did you know that a regular workout can help banish cravings, making it easier to stick to your healthy eating regime? You're less likely to reach for a biscuit and more likely to choose fruit, yogurt and granola if you're fit and active; just one more reason to make the most of your gym membership. Plus, exercise helps to flush toxins from the body, leaving you looking radiant.
Including foods which nourish your body from the inside out in your diet is sure to leave you feeling and looking amazing – we'd love to hear about how changing your diet has affected your skin, hair and nails, so let us know in the comments below or get in touch on Twitter.
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