Eating for Beauty: Pick These Foods!

eating for beautyWritten by Tess O’Brien and Edited by Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN

If you are what you eat, then eat beautiful food! Eating for beauty is easier than you think. There’s growing evidence to support that the food we eat makes profound changes to both our health and beauty. Our body’s beautifying process is very complex. As food digests into smaller nutrients, it affects hormone balance, inflammation, and skin health. Since eating is an everyday activity, it’s important to eat foods that your body and skin will thank you for. Glowing skin, shiny hair, and more energy will be your body’s way of expressing gratitude. And, with skin cells renewing every few days, it’s no wonder that our food selection has a dramatic impact on us both inside and outside. Eating for beauty is a possibility, if you choose foods wisely.

Walnuts

walnuts for fatty acids for beautyWhen eating for beauty, omega-3 fatty acids are important. Walnuts have significant amounts of this essential fatty acid. Skipping out on the recommended intake of omega-3s may give way to health complications including heart disease and diabetes. According to Dr. Lisa Drayer, MA, RD, author of The Beauty Diet, an omega-3 deficiency can also result in dry, scaly skin or eczema.

Kale

It ‘s already established that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables can help fight chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. However, greens, greens, and more greens will also aid in delivering you the most organic makeover ever. Greens are key when eating for beauty! Cruciferous vegetables, like kale, contain vitamins C and A, which are key anti-aging nutrients. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen which is a type of protein we need for connective tissues. That collagen also strengthens your skin on your face. Vitamin A from kale is actually called beta-carotene. Vitamin A and it’s beta-carotene derivative are needed by all skin cells throughout the body. Too little vitamin A will result in both dry skin and poor vision. As a green leafy vegetable, kale is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin (critical nutrients for preserving eye health). These two nutrients are crucial in protecting your skin as well as vision. Additionally, kale’s omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and nourish the hair follicles, favoring overall hair growth and strength. Want to get started eating this right away? Here’s a great kale salad recipe.

Citrus fruits

citrus fruits for beautyCitrus fruits such as limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit help maintain an alkaline state of the body while reducing inflammation. Additionally, the rind of a citrus fruit, such as an orange peel, contains an oil compound that provides UV-protective benefits. In fact, many nutrition experts encourage the consumption of citrus zest due to its DNA-repairing (aka skin-damage repairing) properties. Eat a citrus fruit daily when eating for beauty.

Kiwi

While oranges, limes, and lemons also contain a lot of vitamin C, kiwifruit is often underestimated for its vitamin C and health benefits. According to the founder of NutritionFacts.org, Michael Greger, M.D., kiwis can even be a holistic prescription for insomnia! According to Greger, just two kiwis an hour before bedtime appears to significantly improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency. And, we all know how important a good night’s sleep is to our overall well-being and how we look in the mirror (think bags and dark circles).

Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables such as seaweed have a high content of iodine. Iodine is essential for regulating thyroid hormones, metabolism, and growth. If iodine is deficient, thyroid hormones cannot be synthesized. And, without sufficient thyroid hormones, metabolic rate slows, causing weight gain and fatigue. Many spas and skincare companies use seaweed as detoxifying body wraps or an ingredient in skincare formulas due to the belief that it improves circulation and reduces cellulite. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that seaweed actually reduces cellulite. We do know eating it provides trace nutrients in addition to the iodine. The fiber content is also helpful for gut health and blood sugar control.

Berries

Beauty companies around the globe are also promoting the benefits of antioxidants. These antioxidants are formulated into their topical products and marketed in such ways that leverage the glowing skin effects and anti-aging properties, Ex: Skincare by Alana’s Skin Script Acai Berry Moisturizer. “More and more scientific studies are proving their effectiveness, not only in helping to reduce wrinkles and aging, but also reducing inflammation, such as rosacea, or even helping prevent skin cancer” (Best Health). Berries contain large amounts of antioxidant rich polyphenols. These polyphenols work to visibly repair environmental damage which rejuvenates the skin’s natural defenses for a fresh-looking complexion.

Avocados

avocado for for beautyAnother beauty boosting food on our list is avocados. Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant for protecting cell membranes. Vitamin E works to protect lipids throughout the body by neutralizing reactive oxygen compounds before they can cause damage. This protective activity then aids to prevent collagen fibers from free-radical damage, UV ray damage, and solar radiation damage. This in turn stimulates the healing of damaged skin (such as stretch marks and scars), fights wrinkles, and improves skin elasticity.

Soybeans

Soybeans have a high concentration of isoflavones. Isoflavones are a type of plant chemical found exclusively in soy foods, including soybeans. These isoflavones mimic estrogen and are antioxidants. Some studies show that those who eat more soy have fewer wrinkles and more skin elasticity.

Green tea

Although not a food, tea is a widely consumed beverage and another important source of polyphenols. It has varying amounts of caffeine, minerals, vitamins, and unique amino acids which are crucial for our body’s beautifying process. Green tea’s phytochemicals are a potent source of external antioxidants that could reverse excess skin-damage inside the body, and thereby diminish photoaging (Prasanth, Sivamaruthi, Chaiyasut, Tencomnao).  But green tea is not just for drinking! Green tea extracts are a popular ingredient in skin care products and science backs its use as an ingredient for moisture retention to aid in reducing dry skin. For some more fun green tea information and brewing tips, see a previous green tea post.

Water

water for beautiful skinWater is an essential but often overlooked nutrient. Delivering adequate water to your body allows your digestion to move along smoothly. Efficient delivery of nutrients to your skin’s surface occurs with proper digestion. Since your skin is the largest organ of the body, a lack of hydration can affect the skin’s appearance. Skin may appear dry, flaky, and rough. And, those little wrinkles may be more prominent without enough water.

Take away

While there are many advantages to consistent hair and skincare beauty routines, the most crucial (and often overlooked) part of any daily beauty regimen is incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet. And, since mother nature packages the best nutritional formulas, eating whole food for beauty is better than taking supplements! For those actually needing a supplement, choose wisely. From the oxidation-inhibiting antioxidants in berries to the hormone-regulating iodine in sea vegetables, each beauty-boosting food contains unique compounds. These compounds can produce the beautiful results of glowing skin and strong, shiny hair. Do you have a favorite food you enjoy eating for your beauty routine?

5 Tips to Trim Thanksgiving and Trim You Too!

Turkey Dinner

Healthier Thanksgiving menu

With Thanksgiving around the corner, here are 5 simple ideas to trim your calorie count on Thanksgiving without feeling like you gave up your favorite holiday foods. If you keep in mind that most of the calories are lurking in hidden fats in your meal, you can eat slightly larger amounts of other foods, and not worry about adding another notch to your belt or wearing stretch pants for the rest of the week.

Turkey

Turkey is a lean meat. Just watch your portion size and keep in mind that a normal serving size looks like a checkbook or deck of cards. Skip the extra fatty gravy (or make your own low-fat gravy), and avoid eating the skin.  And, don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the packaged dry gravy options.  They have virtually no fat, and I have never had a guest complain about these types of gravy!

Stuffing

Avoid stuffing the dressing inside the turkey cavity. When you cook the stuffing in the turkey, you are adding more fat by virtue of turkey drippings. Dish out fewer calories and lower the overall fat content of your stuffing just by baking in a separate casserole dish.

Potatoes

Why not make your mashed potatoes with skim milk, fat-free sour cream, or broth? All these options will slash your fat and calories if making from scratch! If you order the potatoes from carry out or a restaurant, chances are they are loaded with both fat and sodium.

Alcohol

Choose a light beer, champagne, or dry wine.These are all lower calorie options to toast the November holiday.

Pumpkin pie

Have you considered a crustless version? Or, have one with crust and be the sneaky one eating the crustless version. Virtually all of the fat and calories end up in the crust, and the rest of the pie is full of health enhancing beta-carotene, fiber, and protein. Cut the sugar slightly and cut the calories more.

Here’s my recipe!

Do you have other tips for a healthy holiday dinner? Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

Clean Up Your Dirty Eating in 7 Steps

 

Clean up your dirty eating in 7 steps

You can clean up your dirty diet in 7 simple steps right now.

We are all busy! My new clients all seem to feel like there is no time to “cook”, they eat on the run, and the end result is a poor diet that will eventually impact health and weight. Through my four decades of counseling clients, I have seen the American diet deteriorate to new lows. This blog is for you! Here are 7 tips to clean up your dirty eating right now. They are simple and anyone can start these steps immediately. It’s never to late to clean up your dirty eating habits.

Eat breakfast to begin the clean up your dirty eating fast

By starting the day with healthy fuel, you are more likely to get all your required nutrients for the day. If trying to lose weight, you will use these morning calories more efficiently, and be less likely to store them as fat. You can keep it super simple-a serving of fruit, slice of toast, along with juice or milk. Try a smoothie for a change of pace. There is also the psychology of starting out the day in a positive way. It often snowballs to continuing on a positive trend as the day continues. Starting out the day poorly has the opposite effect as one does not usually improve their diet as the day continues.

Add fruits and vegetables to your day every day and ALL day

Most Americans eat far less than the minimum recommended 5 servings a day. By adding fruits and veggies to your diet, you are adding compounds to your diet that decrease inflammation. Decreasing inflammation can decrease your risk of disease.

Specific compounds called phytochemicals are found primarily in plant based foods. These phytochemicals protect the plant as it grows. When we eat those same plants, the phytochemicals serve to protect our health as well. There are many phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables and they have varying roles on our health.

Tackle this step by making sure you eat a serving of fruit and vegetable with every meal and then as snacks and voila, mission accomplished!

Drastically decrease animal protein consumption to really clean up dirty eating

Why? Animal protein is not just protein; it is also a significant amount of saturated fat. By eating less animal protein, you will decrease your intake of fat, particularly saturated fat which is artery clogging and increases inflammation. Additionally, decreasing your overall consumption of red meats such as pork, beef, and lamb will decrease our risk of certain cancers such as colorectal cancer. The American Institute of Cancer Research urges us to limit our consumption of red meat to NO more than 12-18 oz. per week. 

Don’t care or not convinced? Meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products. Growing plants is just easier on the health of our planet.

Avoid the fast food-restaurant trap

Dining out constantly is a sure-fire way to ruin your diet unless you constantly order salads with low fat dressing and fruit platters. Sounds boring, right? Most restaurant food is much higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart made or assembled at home. When you eat at home and pay attention to how food is shopped for, prepared, and portioned, you are completely in the driver’s seat. When you go to a full service restaurant, the chef in the kitchen is in the driver’s seat.

Don’t be afraid of some convenience foods in the grocery store

I can almost guarantee that if you eat some brands of frozen dinner such as Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine, you will be better off than going to the local fast food chain or diner. Why? The meals are portion controlled; you know what you are eating because you can see a Nutrition Fact Label. We have been brainwashed to think that these meals have too many chemicals, etc. There are many nutritional advantages to these items as a back up to a chaotic schedule that necessitates relying on dining out to get your meals consumed. And, it is cheaper.

Meals can be large snacks that do not require cooking

Throughout the years, clients have told me that they would eat cereal for dinner because they are too tired to cook. I think those same clients expect me to say “how awful”, when I actually tell them this is not a problem. A bowl of cereal along with skim milk or milk alternative and a nice serving of fruit is actually a nice low-calorie and low-fat meal providing protein and carbohydrates in reasonable quantities. You can also just serve yourself a smoothie made with frozen fruit and throw in some yogurt or cottage cheese to bump up the protein content.

Track your food to really clean up your dirty eating

Better yet, track your diet with a really good app like MyFitnessPal. It will allow you instant analysis of what you are eating, and more importantly, makes you face the music. ALL my clients that have been tracking their food with this app are eating better and losing weight if that was the objective. Even if you are seeing a nutrition counselor, tracking your food forces you to be accountable to yourself between appointments. This app is free and my favorite, but there are many options available.

Bottom line to clean up your dirty diet

Start the day with a healthy breakfast .Don’t delude yourself into thinking it is too time consuming. Eat less meat (sorry keto people) and a lot more fruits and vegetables. Be in control of your diet by eating out less, and doing your own meals at home. Consider packing a lunch and snacks to bring to work. You do not need to cook as you can capitalize on all the foods available in grocery stores. Consider using already cooked foods and healthier versions of frozen dinners which provide ease and portion control.

If you enjoyed this post, please share. I am trying to increase my readership.

Do you have other easy and practical tips on how you cleaned up your diet?