Look, it’s not that humans are vain creatures, it’s just that we always like to look and feel our best.
Whether that means spending a small fortune on an awesome haircut or half our paychecks on beauty products, looking good definitely comes at a price, and we’re all willing to pay. Afterall, the cosmetics industry is expected to reach $62.46 billion in revenue by 2016.
But what if you could toss out all of those expensive skin care regimes and bottles of hair products that have been crowding your already too small bathroom once and for all?
We all know that good nutrition stops us from getting sick, but did you know that it may also solve your biggest health and beauty woes, too?
If you’re sick of shelling out cash for beauty products to work as well as they claim to (but don’t!), look no further than your grocery store for cures that actually deliver – and may be cheaper to boot!
Dull, Brittle Hair
Everyone wants soft, shiny tresses that are just begging for attention. But most of us have hair that falls a little flat in the luster department and may have a few too many flyaways and frizzy strands for our liking.
Instead of reaching for moisturizing hair products that promise shine, say hello to the oily fish family.
Salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna are a scalp’s best friend. The oils in these fish provide an uncanny amount of radiance and softness to otherwise lifeless locks.
Since hair is made of protein — and oily fish are full of protein — you’ll be able to speed up cell repair to not only promote hair growth and rebuilding, but also keep hair strong so it’s less prone to falling out or breaking.
Strong, healthy hair is the first step towards shiny tresses that bounce with life.
Plus, the healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids will give your hair the essential moisture it’s craving. Oily fish will pass on their healthy oils to your skin and hair and even bind split ends so your hair will look as if you just had a fresh cut.
If you’re not into oily fish (seriously, just give them a try!), don’t forget that eating the right serving of avocados and using avocado oil will both give you and your hair a plethora of healthy fats.
“Avocado oil is also loaded with natural fats and vitamins to protect and nourish hair, leaving it with ultimate health and shine.”
Just keep in mind: nutritionist Angela Dowden says, “Any improvements you make to your diet now won’t be reflected in the health of your hair for at least three months.”
That’s ok; those healthy fats won’t go to waste and will still benefit your skin, especially if you’re battling an outcrop of acne or patches of dry skin.
Thought you’d be rid of acne when you got out of your teenage years? Think again.
Dr. Nicholas Perricone, a board-certified dermatologist and nutritionist, says:
“When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise, whether from a poor diet or from stress, we experience a serious increase in inflammatory chemicals at a cellular level. This causes inflammatory diseases such as acne to worsen dramatically.”
Foods that clog pores and increase breakouts include:
- Trans fat
- Hydrogenated oils
- Refined carbs
- Fried foods
- Sugar / High fructose corn syrup
Instead of eating these terrible-for-you foods, chow down on oily fish such as herring, anchovies, salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
The healthy essential omega-3 fatty acids will reduce the stress chemicals in your body and will also ease inflammation.
“Sardines are one of the best sources of omega-3s.” They contain 1.8 g of omega-3s per 4 oz. serving.
Don’t toss that oil if you’re buying canned sardines! For every one tablespoon of sardine oil you’ll get 3.7 g of omega-3s.
If you can’t get on board the oily-fish express, the antioxidants found in onions and sulfur-rich foods (think: cruciferous veggies) will also help battle those breakouts.
Dr. Valori Treloar, a dermatologist, says that the sulfur from our diet helps produce a detoxifying molecule called glutathione, “which a 2011 study found to be lower in the skin of people who were prone to breakouts.”
Most people are surprised to learn that dry skin is a form of inflammation. It’s invisible to the eye, but it indicates a chronic issue.
Salmon, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, and flax seeds all contain good fats.
But keeping your skin hydrated is also critical. Choose water-rich foods that will hydrate you, but not make you run to the restroom every five minutes.
“Tomatoes not only safeguard your skin cells, but, thanks to the pigment lutein, they also help hydrate the skin and increase its elasticity,” says Howard Murad, MD, and founder of Murad skincare.
Feeling bloated can really ruin your day; from not fitting comfortably in your clothes to having a face too puffy for selfies, bloating is an all-too-common complaint I hear about constantly.
As dietitian Elizabeth Somer explains:
“We need sodium to survive, but because we often eat too much of it, our bodies retain water to dilute the blood down to a sodium concentration it can handle.”
Besides downing copious amounts of water when you’re indulging in salty foods, make sure to always include water-rich produce, too.
Good choices include:
Bloating affects more than your skinny jeans; it also makes your skin and eyes look ‘puffy’. Learn how to banish bloating for good.
Dark, Puffy Under Eye Circles
Dark circles make you look exhausted and older than you actually are – not a cute look.
The skin underneath your eyelids is always thinning as you age, making the blood vessels underneath your eyes show more.
Factors such as heredity, age, allergies, and sun exposure all affect how bad our under eye circles become.
But if you’re a party animal who neglects sleep and drinks too much alcohol, you’re in for major puffy raccoon eyes in the AM.
That’s because dark under eye circles can also be the result of shadows cast from puffy eyes, which happens when we’re bloated.
Consuming too much salt and not enough water forces water to drain from our cells and get pulled into surrounding tissues. You not only become dehydrated, but you appear bloated – especially when the puffy bags blow up under your eyes.
So to deflate those bags, load up on potassium to kick that extra salt out of your body and help regulate your fluid levels again.
Excellent sources of potassium include:
- 1 cup of cooked white beans: 1,004 mg (29% DV)
- 1 cup baked acorn squash: 899 mg (26% DV)
- 1 cup of cooked spinach: 839 mg (24% DV)
Don’t forget that sweet potatoes have 950 mg of potassium, which is twice the amount found in a medium banana (422 mg)! That’s just one of the surprising health benefits of sweet potatoes.
As for getting rid of the dark circles, vitamin C will help rebuild the collagen that’s making your dark blood vessels show more. This skin loving vitamin also fights wrinkles.
Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Fact: we’re all aging.
But that doesn’t mean we all have to look like we’re aging.
If you want to fight those wrinkles and keep your skin looking youthful, you’ll want to pair up with some key nutrients for help.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C and lycopene will work wonders for your skin. These antioxidants not only fight free radicals that damage your skin (hello, wrinkles), but they also protect your skin from aging due to UV damage from the sun.
On top of those healthy perks, antioxidants, amino acids, and good fats are all collagen boosters.
Collagen, which is what gives your skin the firmness and elasticity that makes it look healthy, supple, and beautiful, improves your overall skin texture and helps your skin smooth out wrinkles without the need for expensive creams.
According to one study, higher intakes of vitamin C and lower intakes of refined carbs was associated with “better skin-aging appearance.”
Researchers from another study determined that women who ate the most yellow and green veggies had fewer wrinkles than those who only ate minimal amounts of them.
What’s even better is that researchers noticed that the women had especially less-noticeable wrinkles in the crow’s feet area, which is a tell-tale spot for signs of aging.
Yellow veggies, you say? Well, one yellow bell pepper has 341.3 mg of vitamin C, or a whopping 569% of your daily value.
Stick to these foods to banish wrinkles and keep your baby face:
- Amino acids: beans, eggs, seeds
- Antioxidants: kale, dark berries, green tea
- Healthy fats: almonds, avocado, olive oil
No matter how much you work out or watch what you eat, the cellulite monster gets the best of us at some point or another. And we all get angry about it.
Cellulite forms from fat deposits that sit just below the surface of the skin and start pushing against tissue. This typically affects our tummies, thighs, buttocks, and upper arms.
Factors contributing to the cellulite monster’s appearance include poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, hormones, age, and even genetics. Thanks, grandma!
However, to fight off those lumps, try adding mildly diuretic foods to your snacks and meals to help your body shed excess water and reduce bloating, which can make the appearance of cellulite seem worse.
Some experts believe that detoxing minimizes the appearance of cellulite – just don’t waste your money on bogus detoxing kits.
Adding lemons to water can help our bodies remove unwanted “fat sludge” naturally and works like a charm to detoxify the liver.
Green tea will also help minimize the expansion of fat cells that create cellulite.
FYI: fatty fish and their uber helpful omega-3s will help strengthen your cell membranes and allow them to hold more moisture. When you have plump skin cells, they may hide the appearance of lumps and bumps.
Red, Irritated Skin
The last thing you want to do when you have red, irritated skin is apply makeup to cover it up, especially if you’re man and don’t wear makeup to begin with.
The ingredients in makeup may actually make your irritation worse; so try to stick to a diet that reduces inflammation instead.
“Raspberries contain ellagic acid, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that helps prevent red inflamed skin,” says Samantha Lynch, RD, a dietitian in New York City.
Having skin that’s prone to bad reactions and irritations may mean you need a little boost from friendly probiotics.
Probiotics will promote better digestion, which will increase your immunity so you can fight off skin irritants and reduce inflammation.
According to one study, when women took probiotics while they were pregnant, they saw a decrease in occurrence of childhood eczema; 71% of babies in the placebo group had eczema at least once, but when mothers took a probiotic, just 29% of infants had eczema.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised by your body’s response to taking daily probiotics.
Dry, Chapped Lips
There’s nothing worse than the uncomfortable feeling of dry, peeling, chapped lips.
But this symptom is often an indicator that our bodies are thirsting for water.
Our skin’s outermost layer holds water to make sure we don’t lose too much fluid when we’re sweating or consuming diuretics such as coffee and alcohol, which rid your body of water.
“Lips don’t contain oil glands like other parts of the skin. For this reason, the lips are more susceptible to drying out and becoming chapped.”
But when you don’t replace the water lost in your body with a steady supply, your lips can start to feel dry and rough. Factors such as lack of humidity in the winter or hot sun exposure during the summer can all make your lips as parched as a dried-up lake bed.
Instead of lathering on the lip balm, try drinking a glass of water every hour.
The incredible health benefits of water are far ranging across your body, which means that when you drink water, it goes to all of your other organs before reaching your skin.
Drinking water frequently ensures that your water storehouses are properly filled.
And NEVER lick your chapped lips in an effort to rehydrate them; saliva can actually strip your lips of what little moisture they have left and cause even more dryness.
If you find yourself in a dark PMS-hole every month, you may want to check your iron levels.
When researchers analyzed the diets of 3,000 women over 10 years, they discovered that those who consumed more than 20 milligrams of iron daily had about a 40% “lower risk of PMS than those who ingested less than 10 milligrams.”
Load up on these foods to meet your iron needs:
- 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds: 4 mg (23% DV)
- 1 medium oyster: 2.3 mg (13% DV)
- 1 ounce of cashews: 1.7mg (9% DV)
- 3 oz of lean ground beef: 2.2 mg (12% DV)
- 3 oz dark turkey meat: 2 mg (11% DV)
Uneven or Blotchy Skin
We’d all love to have a smooth, even complexion that’s preferably uniform in color and free of redness or dull patches.
But if you’re lacking vitamin A this may only seem like a pipe dream.
Vitamin A helps to control your skin cells’ regeneration. Just like an exfoliator sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal bright new skin, vitamin A actually creates those new skin cells from the inside.
Adding foods packed with vitamin A will improve the skin shedding process and create more even tones and luminosity.
Choose vitamin A-rich foods such as dark green leafies (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.) and orange fruits and veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, etc.).
Research even suggests that munching carotenoid containing foods such as carrots actually gives a natural glow to your skin that’s comparable to suntanning (without all the damage!).
Ever notice that your teeth seem to be turning fifty shades of yellow even though you brush twice a day and floss?
Don’t turn to expensive whitening kits that are full of chemicals, adopt a new enamel-protecting routine when you eat.
You see, foods that are highly acidic will actually destroy the enamel on your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to the pigments in food staining your pearly whites.
However, when you combine an acidic food with foods that have higher pH levels, you may have a chance at neutralizing the damage.
Common acidic offenders include:
So you may want to mix your berries with high pH cherries, or add eggplant to your marinara sauce. Match up any low pH (acidic) food with a high pH (alkali) food for a picture perfect smile in no time.
When you think about it, isn’t it fantastic that we can find so many natural remedies for our most troubling health and beauty woes right in our very own gardens? I hope you start to think about your health and beauty routine in a different way after today’s post.
Which natural remedy surprised you the most? Did any of these cures challenge the way you think about good nutrition working for your body? Share your thoughts with me in the comments— I’d love to hear what you think.
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