By Zainab Ashadu
Expert solutions to your style problems
Everything we consume affects not just our weight but also the way we look. Clear skin, glossy hair, healthy nails and reduced cellulite may be attained by eating the right foods. Unfortunately, a lot of us eat fast or convenience foods to save time. These foods which are loaded with unhealthy ingredients such as refined sugar, bleached flour, hydrogenated fats, chemical preservatives and additives are considered as empty because they have little or no nutritional content.
The body is able to automatically rid itself of toxic waste but stress and excessive consumption of processed foods, pesticides, alcohol and drugs may interrupt this natural detoxification process. When there is excessive toxic overload in the body, inflammatory skin responses such as eczema, psoriasis and skin infection may result.
The most important beauty secret is to â€œNever Eat Junk Foodâ€. Eating unprocessed food is a good guide to getting flavour filled, wholesome and nutritious food. Organic foods are the best of all as they are free of pesticides and have greater nutritional value.
The basic rule for eating well is to include a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains (like brown rice, couscous and oatmeal), oily fish, and organic lean meat and poultry. If your skin is persistently itchy or if you break out in rashes you should eat more alkaline foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains and avoid acid forming foods such as alcohol, coffee, dairy, red meat and processed food.
For Healthy Skin it is important to get enough Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). The body is unable to produce these so they must be obtained from the diet or supplements. There are two categories of EFAs namely Linolenic (Omega-3) and Linoleic (Omega-6) fatty acids. The terms Omega-3 and Omega-6 refers to which carbon atom of the fatty acid molecule the first double bond is located. EFAs are found most abundantly in fish oils and unprocessed seed oils such as canola and sunflower oil. Flaxseed (Linseed) oil, contains both forms of EFAs in significant amounts and is known to be the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold Salt water oily fish such as salmon, haddock, herring, cod and mackerel are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Evening primrose oil, borage seed oil and blackcurrant seed oil are sources of Omega-6 fatty acids. EFAs help skin cells retain moisture and build ceramides which are binding agents between skin cells responsible for giving skin cells firmness. EFAs improve the texture and appearance of the skin and help reduce inflammation.
Antioxidants and phytonutrients are essential to help repair free radical cellular damage. Foods rich in colour such as tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, carrots grapefruit, mangoes, bananas, spinach, avocados, eggplant and green tea are abundant in these. Selenium neutralises free radicals before they can damage body tissues and is found in Turkey, Tuna and Brazil Nuts. Vitamins A, C and E are also important antioxidants for healthy skin.
Oxidants or free radicals are responsible for turning apples brown after they are cut and for iron rusting when exposed to the elements. They cause similar harm to body cells. Potentially harmful free radicals are generated in the body each time you breathe, digest food, exercise or sleep. Toxic substances in air pollution, cigarette smoke, ultraviolet light and emotional stress also generate free radicals that may be harmful to health. Antioxidants work to combat these free radicals. The most important antioxidants are Carotenoids such as beta carotene, Vitamins C and E, tocotrienol, N-acetyl-cysteine, glutathione, L-cysteine and substances found in herbs such as ginkgo biloba, bilberry, green tea and red wine. Zinc and Selenium are important minerals that act as co-factors in important antioxidant enzyme systems.
It is now known that Zinc deficiency greatly contributes to the development of stretch marks. You can boost vitamin intake by eating five servings of fresh vegetables and fruits a day. Add good oils like extra virgin olive oil, nut and avocado oils to your diet. Zinc is found in shellfish, lean meat, lentils and spinach.
Fibre in the diet is very important as it helps prevent constipation. Constipation promotes toxic waste build-up in the body. When these toxins accumulate, they are absorbed into the blood stream and may end up being excreted through the sweat leading to skin inflammation and blemish formation. The recommended daily intake of fibre is 25 â€“ 30g.
For Glossy Hair it is essential to take EFAs found in oily fish; Amino acids which are the building blocks of protein from lean meats, eggs, yeast and pulses; Iron in Liver and kidney; Zinc found in shellfish and Magnesium found in leafy greens, bananas, nuts and fruits.
The main culprits when it comes to Cellulite are alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar and processed foods. These should be eliminated from the diet and foods rich in antioxidants, fibre and EFAs should be consumed. Drinking plenty of water is helpful. Starting your day with a glass of hot water with a slice of lemon in it helps kick-start the detoxifying process. Foods good for cellulite include Mangoes, Pineapple, Lemons, Grapes, Sunflower seeds and Almonds.
For Strong Healthy Nails it is essential to take a good amount of protein as nails are made of a protein known as keratin. Zinc, EFAs, Iron and Vitamin C are also essential. Brittle nails may be as a result of Iron deficiency and Biotin (a B-vitamin) deficiency. Good sources of Biotin include soybeans, brewerâ€™s yeast, Corn,