It’s no secret that what we eat has a massive impact on how we look and feel. The body is no different from a car; it needs the right fuel to work optimally. Plus, it’s easy to forget how much work the body does.
As you’ve been reading this, in the last second your body has produced around two million new red blood cells! It’s certainly an amazing piece of machinery.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top tips on how to optimise your body from the inside out.
Love your liver
The liver is the main organ of detoxification, therefore it needs to be the first port of call when we’re thinking about health from the inside out. The liver get lots of abuse that we’re not necessarily aware of due to environmental toxins all around us: the liver has to deal with toxins from the inside and the outside on a daily basis.
Symptoms such as excessive bloating or wind, recurrent headaches, sensitivity to chemicals, poor digestion of fatty foods, bad breath or less than one bowel movement daily, may all be indications of a sluggish liver.
The good news is there are lots of foods that love your liver and will help it to detox gently and naturally without you having to go on a drastic ‘detox’ programme. The liver primarily needs four types of foods:
Fibre: beans (all types), brown rice, fresh fruit and vegetables, lentils, oats, whole wheat and rye
Enzymes: pineapple and papaya
‘Friendly bacteria’-promoting foods: Jerusalem artichokes, live natural yoghurt, miso, garlic and onions
Antioxidants: avocado, beetroot, broccoli, green tea, nuts, watercress, sweet potatoes, berries and peppers
Try to include as many of these foods as possible into your daily diet; there’s certainly plenty of choice. Plus don’t forget the main ‘food of life’ – water. Drink at least 1 ½ - 2 litres of water daily to keep your liver running optimally.
Beauty from within
It’s true to say that all the creams, potions and lotions in the world are not going to promote beautiful glowing skin if you’re not putting the right nutrients in. Just like the liver, your skin is an organ of detoxification and is therefore a reflection of what’s going on inside. Whilst the liver is certainly the first consideration, there are also specific nutrients that can help your skin to glow.
Vitamin C is the most important nutrient for the skin because it’s essential for the production of collagen, the skin’s main structural protein. Our natural production of collagen declines after the age of around 30 which is one of the reasons why we start getting those dreaded lines and wrinkles.
Therefore, try to eat as many foods rich in Vitamin C as possible.
Enjoy strawberries, kiwi fruits, red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and all citrus fruits. All these foods are high in antioxidants which help protect the body (including the skin) from free radical damage. Vitamin C can help neutralise internal and external toxins, therefore you’ll soon be glowing from the inside out!
Healthy fats for glowing skin
There are certain fats that are absolutely essential for the body and that includes glowing skin. Whilst damaged fats (often called trans fats), frequently found in margarines, cakes and biscuits, should be avoided as much as possible, certain healthy fats are needed regularly.
The essential omega-3 fats contain potent anti-inflammatory properties which help heal many skin conditions. Plus, the omega-3s are an intrinsic part of our cellular structure, therefore we need to keep eating them regularly. Furthermore, they help keep the skin properly hydrated. Best sources of omega-3s are oily fish, nuts and seeds. However, if you’re vegan then try to find algae oil which contain the omega-3s that fish feed on.
Coconut oil is another great fat for the skin. Whilst it does contain saturated fats, so needs to be used in moderation, its medium chain triglycerides have great affinity for the skin and are also used for energy, another great benefit. Coconut oil is good for cooking, particularly in stir-fries.
Avocados are loaded with skin-loving vitamin E and have a double benefit because they also help the liver detoxify. Sesame oil contains useful fatty acids for the skin but is also high in polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants. Sesame is also high in lignans which have a great hormone-balancing effect.
So getting it right nutritionally on the inside can really help to give you great results on the outside!