By Holly Cuthbert
Your skin is often a reflection of your overall health. Unfortunately there is no fountain of youth, but the food we eat and how we treat ourselves can prevent or even reverse aging. Your body needs the right nutrients to fight off damage, and your skin is no different. Processed foods, stress, toxins, and low-nutrient diets will accelerate aging. Protecting yourself from harmful chemicals while getting enough sleep, relaxation and exercise, will all help you maintain beautiful, natural, healthy skin.
You know that eating foods that are covered in chemicals are harmful to your health, but many people aren’t aware that a lot of what we put on our skin is absorbed straight into our bloodstream. We may choose organic food and avoid junk food to stay healthy, but then use chemically laden beauty products on our skin. From the moment we wake up we involuntarily use hundreds of chemicals found in products such as toothpaste, make-up,
moisturiser, perfume, deodorant, hand soap, shaving cream, and many others. It is scary to think about how many chemicals we are applying to our skin every day.
As our skin is our largest organ it is very important to keep it healthy. Once these chemicals enter the bloodstream they disrupt normal hormonal functions and have toxic effects throughout the body. The health of our skin goes far beyond what we are applying topically. All the expensive exfoliating scrubs, moisturisers, and cleansers in the world won’t undo what’s going on inside.
We all want healthy, glowing, youthful skin, and many people are willing to spend loads of money to get it, but it doesn't have to be so difficult or expensive.
Try these 7 tips for naturally beautiful skin.
1. You Are What You Eat – So Get Real!
The health of your skin can be a mirror of your gut health. If you want vibrant, clear skin, just find your way back to simple and real food. If your body is healthy and nourished, your skin will glow, but if you are lacking vital nutrients, or are unable to digest nutrients properly, your skin may show stress and early signs of aging.
Say NO to processed foods.
Avoid inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and refined sugar, all of which cause inflammation and an acidic environment in the body. Eliminating these foods will decongest your digestive system and support your liver and in turn noticeably increase your energy and skin clarity.
Don’t be afraid of fat.
Incorporating good fats such as coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, flax seeds, nuts, and ghee into your diet is important. The fatty acids are crucial for your skin to look youthful.
Limit alcohol and caffeine.Both of these are dehydrating substances, so save yourself the dry, grey look by having drinks containing alcohol and caffeine as little as possible. Try something like kombucha or lemon and ginger tea instead.
Get your green on.
Eat a truckload of leafy greens! They’re rich in vitamins and minerals and have anti-inflammatory properties that do wonders for the vibrancy of your skin.
Eat foods with antioxidants.
Antioxidants are the best resources your body has to fight disease and aging by reducing damage and inflammation. Inflammation is a leading cause of wrinkle formation. Some of the best sources of antioxidants include blueberries, pomegranates, acai berries, goji berries, spinach, raspberries, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa content), and organic green tea.
Eat organic foods.
Eating clean foods free of pesticides and chemicals curtails consumption of aging toxins. Eat fermented foods such as cultured veggies and kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha for probiotics.
2. Clean Up Your Act
Clean up your skincare. Chemicals and toxins from products absorb into the bloodstream, only adding to the body’s toxic load.
A body free of toxins doesn’t need expensive anti-aging products.Many skincare products contain harsh chemicals. When choosing moisturisers or make-up, opt for natural skin products. Make sure the ingredient list doesn’t read like a chemistry lesson, or even better, make your own.
If you are a bit of a DIY person and also want to save money you can make your own cleansers and moisturisers. There is a great website called www.gonative.co.nz where you can buy mango butter, coco butter, essential oils, and much more. You can use these to make your own blend of body butters or lotions.
Use coconut oil for cleansing and moisturising. Wait for a few minutes for the oil to absorb after applying if you want to add make-up. Try exfoliating with baking soda mixed into a paste with an essential oil or a carrier oil like apricot or coconut.You can also use coconut oil as a natural sunblock. It has a SPF of approximately 7. Combining it with a physical sun block like powdered zinc oxide can give you full spectrum sun protection and minimise your exposure to the toxic chemicals found in conventional sun cream.
Water hydrates your body, which keeps your skin supple so you can rock that dewy glow. Yes, I know, you’ve heard this time and time again, but getting enough water is the simplest, cleanest way to hydrate your cells and give you that refreshed look. Even with a small amount of dehydration, your body functions in a less optimal way. The instant you're dehydrated, it will take a toll on your skin, causing it to look dull and lifeless. Carry around your water bottle and hydrate from the inside out.
Hot water and lemon is one of the best things you could do for yourself in the morning. Not only does it help to wake up your senses but also it flushes and purifies your body of toxins and stimulates digestion.
4. Get Your ZZZ’s
I can be guilty of not getting enough sleep, but when I do, I really notice a difference in my skin. Especially as I’ve gotten older, the ability to bounce back after a late night with dewy skin, well, that’s not really happening anymore! Your skin rejuvenates and repairs itself mostly while you are asleep. Getting plenty of rest encourages regeneration of body cells and tissues, so lack of sleep will definitely show in your skin. Make sure that you not only sleep for eight hours a night but you get to bed before 10pm.
Exercise increases the blood flow to every single organ of your body, including the skin, and will always produce an improved complexion and a healthy glow. Exercise releases toxins through sweat, which leads to clearer, firmer skin.
A brisk walk, a light jog, or some groovy dance moves will keep your skin looking fresh, radiant and beautiful. When you exercise, your skin begins to produce more of its natural oils that help skin look supple and healthy. Exercising and getting a sweat on will leave your complexion looking fantastic for hours after you put your workout clothes away.
Sunlight is healing! It has numerous benefits besides being a great non-supplemental source of Vitamin D, and it adds a nice, healthy look to your skin. Small amounts of daily sun are beneficial, but too much sun will damage your skin. Aim for 15-20 minutes of sun on your skin daily. Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses, and use zinc or natural sunscreen if you are in the sun longer than this.
7. Looking Within – Beyond Skin Deep
To promote inner harmony and clear skin we need to look at reducing stress and maintaining a calm positive attitude.In life, sometimes stress is inevitable and wreaks havoc on our appearance. Stress is a powerful thing. High levels of stress and negativity can wear you down and compromise your skin. Don’t panic, you can reverse the damage.
Stop, breathe deep and put everything into perspective. Decide what is really important.
Look after yourself, take time with friends and family and time alone, to reflect and engage in activities that relieve stress and make your heart sing. Try yoga or meditating your way to radiant skin. I believe yoga and meditation can truly rejuvenate your skin, transforming all your cells and tissues. The effect of yoga and meditation, when practiced consistently, is like an anti-aging pill that cleanses your skin and rejuvenates your complexion.
So, remember to smile, take time out for yourself, quiet the mind, eat well, nourish your skin with natural products and practice the art of self-care and you will enjoy the benefits of beautiful, glowing skin, naturally.
Holly Yates, founder of Square One Health and Fitness is a certified
American Council of Exercise personal trainer and Holistic Health
Coach studying with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She’s a writer,
foodie, dancer (for the soul, not professionally) and a mother of 3. Her mission
is to educate and inspire people to improve their health, fitness, and
happiness through natural food, functional movement, and living well.
You can find her at Square One Fitness.