Do you want to look great as well as feel fabulous? Have youthful skin, shiny hair, a lean body, sharp mind and be able to perform at your optimum? Choosing the right foods to nourish your body can help you achieve all this and more!
Your body is literally built from the food you eat and it will either reward or punish you for what you feed it. Studies suggest that clean eating, such as whole foods that are minimally processed, will reward you with healthy insides and youthful skin.
Alternatively, highly manufactured foods with added colourings, flavour enhancers and sweeteners are likely to punish both your waistline and your skin. So, it’s time to ditch the ageing foods and add some beautifying nutrients to your meals.
Most berries contain high amounts of protective agents known as antioxidants. They defend the whole body from oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radical damage. This can be damage to the membrane of the skin cells that leads to premature ageing such as wrinkles, dry skin and age spots.
Blueberries are vibrant little nutrient powerhouses. Not only do they contain high concentrations of antioxidants, many studies have suggested they are beneficial in preventing age-related issues with the heart, nervous system, brain, and even your eyes. Plus, they are packed with water, so they can help keep your skin hydrated from the inside out.
Jaclyn Reutens, Active8me nutrition expert and dietician at Aptima Nutrition and Sports Consultants suggests enjoying a wide variety of berries to ensure a combination of beneficial antioxidants. It’s best to opt for rich coloured berries such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Try adding them to your cereal, as a snack, in a smoothie or even part of a healthy dessert such as mixed berry chia pudding.
Herbs and spices are the ultimate flavour enhancers. They naturally add colour, texture, vitamins and health benefits without adding calories! Plus, because spices are nutrient dense they are thermogenic (meaning they produce heat), which naturally increases your metabolism, therefore potentially aiding weight loss.
Cinnamon can effectively lower blood sugar levels by acting on multiple levels. It regulates the emptying of your stomach after a meal and improves effectiveness of insulin. This ensures efficient metabolism, which is important when maintaining a healthy weight. Its anti-inflammatory effects may also relieve joint stiffness, muscle pain and menstrual discomfort, enabling you to continue exercising regularly. You can increase your cinnamon intake by using it as a seasoning on meats, sprinkling on banana or drinking it in a tea.
Turmeric seems like an all-round winner in the world of health benefits. It is a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, natural detoxifier and is thought to boost immunity. Turmeric also contains manganese, which supports collagen production, the chemical that keeps our skin looking plump and wrinkle free.
Interestingly, some cafés are capitalising on these health benefits by offering Turmeric Latte’s, however you could be a trendsetter amongst friends and colleagues, and make one yourself! Here’s how – warm 1 cup of almond milk in a small saucepan (do not boil) and add 1 teaspoon each of turmeric paste, ginger and cinnamon. Then combine 2 teaspoons coconut oil with the mixture, continuing to gently heat until melted. Add raw honey for sweetener.
Green tea boasts polyphenols, such as catechins and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants and have a variety of benefits in protecting our cells and preventing age-related diseases. A study published in the Archives of Dermatology showed that green tea can reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (the burning rays of the sun), and thus reduce the risk of skin cancer. It is best to drink loose leaf green tea to get the most goodness.
Water is liquid gold for your body and your looks. Water constitutes 60% to your body weight and is necessary in virtually every cellular process. Keeping hydrated allows everything to function efficiently, including sweating! Getting your sweat-on regularly, not only cools you down, it keeps your skin clean and clear.
Living in a humid environment means you need to be clever with hydration and ensure you’re replacing water loss with the simple, clean, clear variety of water. Avoid drinking empty-calorie fizzy drinks or highly sugary juices, as you will not only remain dehydrated, you will increase the likelihood of gaining weight.
Nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids. Dietician Jaclyn Reutens, notes “these two compounds work hand in hand to keep skin elastic and to reduce the signs of ageing”. Walnuts and Almonds are great choices for their high protein (great for muscle repair) and fibre content, making you feel full for longer. As well as great snacks, they can add some crunch to a salad or stir fry.
Of course, too much of a good thing can have detrimental results, so avoid nuts that have sugary or salty coatings and limit your intake to a small handful, to avoid overloading on calories from fat.
You need fats to support metabolism, to help the transport and absorption of essential nutrients (vitamins A and D) to your cells, hormone production and adequate function of your nervous system. But not all fats were created equal! There are good fats and bad fats. You can consume healthy fats from things like fish, eggs, olive oil, avocados and nuts. Let’s look at avocado as one example.
Avocado offers over 20 vitamins and minerals and is high in “good” monounsaturated fat, which helps lower bad cholesterol, one of the contributors of heart disease. It is an excellent source of Potassium which is beneficial in reducing blood pressure and can be related to new skin cell growth, helping to prevent the appearance of dry skin and enhancing hair growth.
Not sure how much is a good serving size?
Dark green leafy vegetables are high in fibre and iron and can be your best friend when it comes to sticking to a healthy lifestyle. They are low in calories, aid in boosting your energy and effectively ‘fill you up’ so you’re not reaching for snacks. Leafy greens are packed with the B vitamins, which are known to improve concentration and help overall brain function.
Spinach is loaded with lutein, a beta-carotene antioxidant which keeps that twinkle in your eyes by preventing degeneration that occurs from ageing. It’s also associated with lowering the risk of some cancers and heart disease. It’s a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw as part of salads, sautéed, stewed or in green smoothies.
Salmon and other oily fish contain heart-friendly omega-3, which helps your skin remain supple and moisturised as well as reducing the amount of dangerous fats in your bloodstream. Salmon also contains the mineral selenium, that experts suggest plays a key role in the health of skin cells and protecting the skin from the effects of sun exposure.
The vitamin D in salmon gives you the advantage of maintaining healthy bones and teeth for structural stability and a killer smile. Jaclyn Reutens, dietician, recommends eating oily fish at least twice a week. Try baking Salmon, coated in a mixture of crushed nuts and herbs, served on a bed of baby spinach and tomato salad.
A balanced diet will always contain numerous serves of fruits and vegetables as they provide essential vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal functioning of your body, in addition to providing favourable carbohydrates to fuel you.
Tomatoes contain lycopene, which helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, says dietician Jaclyn Reutens. This is because lycopene can prevent damage to the DNA of cells, hindering the ageing process. Tomatoes also contain significant amounts of vitamin C which helps to strengthen collagen fibres, a crucial component of healthy skin.
Pomegranates are filled with bright, tasty seeds bursting with benefits. They have antioxidant properties and are considered a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid, all great for maintaining youthful skin. The juice of pomegranates is said to be great for your smile, with its anti-bacterial properties reducing the effects of dental plaque and protecting against gum disease.
You are what you eat so making regular additions of these types of foods to your diet will serve you well, both inside and out. So to recap here’s some tips to remember:
- Be Berry-licious
- Spice it Up
- Find that fountain of youth
- Go nuts about Nuts
- Enjoy healthy fats
- Be a green machine
- Fish for compliments
- Feel that fruitful beauty
If you are struggling to know where to start with balancing your diet, sign up for the FREE 3 week trial of the Active8me program to receive access to meal plans that incorporate these types of foods, promising a healthy transformation of your approach to food.
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