You are what you eat. It’s a bit of a cliche that we all heard a lot growing up, but funnily enough, it’s completely true.
The idea that beauty begins from within is something Aleph believes deeply. It shouldn't take a hundred different lotions to get your glow on, but rather, some healthy adjustments to your lifestyle. Beginning with what's in your pantry!
Food is the building blocks for your body and what we consume can be the difference between a healthy, glowing complexion and a tired, puffy, wrinkled one. It’s that simple.
Sustenance that’s good for you helps to form a strong, healthy structure while food lacking in nutrition can be a damaging force to your system.
Your skin is a great sign if something is not doing your body good. For example, you can quickly spot a junk food addict by their greyish pallor and a chronic alcoholic by the purplish-red tone to their skin. Obviously, these are extreme examples but we all have influence over our skin by what we ingest whether it be good or bad for us.
To help pretty up your pantry and your skin, we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite superfoods, each brimming with beauty benefits. By the end of it, you’ll be eating your way to shiny hair, glowing skin and hopefully, a wrinkle-free complexion.
First things first, the foods to avoid… Like the plague. There’s no point putting good stuff into your body if you’re going to chase it down with nutrition-poor foods. It defeats the purpose!
Skin Enemy #1
The worst offender (besides smoking because we’re talking about food specifically here) is sugar. Sugar can trigger inflammation and cause glycation. This is a process by which sugar attaches to the collagen in the skin, causing it to stiffen, lose it’s elasticity and causes wrinkles. No thank you!
Skin Enemy #2
Processed foods. These foods aren’t really food at all. They have been taken so far away from how nature intended them to be eaten and pumped full of non-nutrients making them virtually unrecognisable to the body. They are also laden with chemicals, GMO’s, hormone-mimicking substances… None of which are very appetising at all.
The list does go on but in the interest of getting to the point of this article, let’s classify anything that is not an organic whole food into the processed foods category.
Superfoods for Beautiful Skin
Now to the good stuff. We all know a balanced, nutrient-dense whole food diet is the way to go. But let’s go a step further and discover which foods are going to give you more bang for your buck when it comes to rejuvenating your skin.
There’s a reason why millennials are so obsessed with this superfood. Avocados, while a delicious spread on toast, is one of the most well-known superfoods and contains a whole heap of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and healthy fats. The monounsaturated fats in avocado give the skin a healthy glow.
Vitamin E is a big factor here. A powerful antioxidant, it works to deactivate free radicals and slow the ageing process. Sufficient levels of this vitamin may help guard against sun damage caused by UV radiation. Additionally, Vit E is a fat-soluble vitamin, making avocado the perfect food for Vit E absorption.
2) Coconut Oil
Say hello to another brilliant saturated fat. Rich in potent anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-microbial properties, this oil really is something magic. To get the most out of coconut oil, you can eat it and/or apply it to your skin and hair. Oh and an extra bonus? Used both internally and externally, this oil can help guard against sun damage. It’s no coincidence that indigenous Pacific Islanders not only had clear, radiant skin but they were also not affected by too much exposure to the sun.
3) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens are all bursting with Vitamin K, a skin-boosting vitamin. Adding these vegetables into your diet will improve blood circulation, treat redness, rid dark under-eye circles and promote skin healing. Spinach is a particular favourite of ours as it's loaded with zinc, which helps even out your skin tone and prevents acne! Next time you're whipping up a morning smoothie or a salad, mix in a few handfuls of these hearty greens and get ready to reap the rewards. We swear the kids won't even notice.
4) A Good Old Nut and Seed Blend
Linseeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Our favourite combination of nuts and seeds. This is a quick kick of protein, fibre, minerals and omega 3s, which by the way have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the risk of acne. You can buy packets of LSA or LSC at the supermarket but the delicate oils turn rancid very quickly, so it’s essential to make it fresh every day, we like using a coffee grinder. And it’s far more economical. There are extra points for activating your nuts and seeds too, to reduce anti-nutrients and allow for better digestion. Warning though, don’t try to activate your chia seeds, you’ll end up with a gloopy mess! Sprinkle in your next smoothie or on top of a salad and enjoy.
5) Organic Blueberries
Don’t let their size fool you, these tiny treats will lead to incredible benefits for your skin. These super berries are packed with antioxidants, which play an important role in keeping your skin beautiful. Antioxidants work hard to fight and neutralise free radicals which are notorious for damaging skin cells and collagen, causing wrinkles, dry skin, and a plethora of other ageing skin factors. These nutrient-dense super berries also contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. These help clear, brighten, and beautify your complexion! To get the most benefits from your blurbs, investigate where they’re from first and make sure you’re buying organic. That way, you’re avoiding nasty pesticides, supporting local suppliers and helping the planet out by minimising your impact on the environment. Plus, they’ll taste a whole lot sweeter. Bonus!
Oligomeric polyphenols (the flavanols in cacao and tea) inhibit oxidative stress which can damage cell membranes leading to disease and the ageing process. We knew there was a good reason for consuming so much chocolate! Obviously though standard chocolate is not what you’re after, which has usually got little cacao and lots of other stuff your body doesn’t need.
Raw cacao powder or cacao nibs aren’t processed at high temperatures, therefore, keeping all the goodness intact. The other amazing benefit of cacao is that it contains compounds that boost the production of serotonin and endorphins. Long story short, it’s a mood booster. We’re convinced happiness reflects in your skin too. Bonus!
We’ll always be eternally grateful to coffee. For without it, how would we function like real humans in the early AM? But it turns out there’s more to these magical beans. Coffee is rich in polyphenols, which is a group of about 4,000 antioxidants. As we know, antioxidants are the holy grail of anti-ageing skincare. They work overtime to fight free radicals that are floating around the body, provoked by factors such as sun damage, pollution and cigarette smoking. By fighting off these radicals, antioxidants help slow down the visible signs of ageing. Energy and youthful skin? No complaints here! But before you stop at the nearest coffee stand, know that not all coffee is created equal. Typically, coffee that has been refined or over processed shows lower levels of the polyphenols we love so much and sometimes mycotoxins, which is a toxic mould. Yikes. So like all superfoods, opt for your coffee organic and shop consciously. Your skin and planet will thank you for it.
Of course, there are many more foods that will boost the health of your skin and deal with specific conditions. These are our all-time-out-of-the-cupboard favourites. We struggle to go a day without these, knowing how amazing they are for the skin and our wellbeing.
Next time you’re perusing the supermarket aisles, take a moment to fill your trolley up with these skin-boosting superfoods and begin eating your way to beautiful skin.