We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat,” right? That’s because, quite literally, you are. Let’s just think about this for a second. Every cell in our body only exists because we have fed it; everything – from our heart and blood to our eyelashes and fingernails. It all wouldn’t exist without food. But just as we know that not all calories are “good” calories, so it is that not all food is good food. Health magazines and talk shows are constantly bombarding us with new information on superfoods and their promises to keep us healthy. But here’s the thing. Not only does the right food make our organs healthy and help our bodies perform to the best of their abilities, the right food also makes our skin look younger. (Hooray!) Don’t believe me? It’s always easier to see the flip side of this argument. For example, have you ever drank too much wine one night, then somehow ended up eating an entire bag of Doritos? And then you look at yourself in the mirror and – Uggh. Hey, it happens. Sometimes I just accidentally fall into a quart of Baskin Robbins Peanut Butter ’n Chocolate ice cream. Oops. Then, the next morning, as I pass by the mirror, I have to do a double-take. Uggh, again. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do that double-take because you look great one morning. You can! Just as sh*tty food makes you look, well… sh*tty, there are some amazing foods that makes you look fantastic! I like to call these types of food “pretty foods.”
Here are my Top 10 “Pretty Foods”:
1. Salmon: Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s great for your metabolism and reduces inflammation in the body. In addition, salmon is great for heart health, skin, and hair. It is at the very top of my “pretty food” list.
2. Avocados: Avocados actually slow down your skin’s signs of aging, due to their high concentration of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Don’t be afraid of their fat content. Avocados have the “good fats” we need to keep us feeling fuller for longer.
3. Dark leafy greens: This seems like a no-brainer, right? “Eat your veggies,” my mother used to say. Perhaps if she would have said: “… and you will have beautiful skin,” I might have paid a bit more attention as a child. When it comes to creating youthful skin, the darker the leafy greens – the better. My favorite? Kale and swiss chard. They’re one of the top sources of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant which helps renew and repair skin. Get into a habit of eating dark leafy greens, then stand back, folks, and wait for that youthful glow. (Sunglasses are recommended).
4. Berries: Berries are one of the most powerful antioxidants you’ll find. They help your body protect itself from free radicals, which zap the collagen that is needed to keep our skin firm. Berries also increase circulation to the skin, which keeps your skin looking young and glowing. In addition, they are packed with vitamin C, which is crucial for the production of collagen. I always have baggies of berries in the freezer. They are perfect for your morning smoothie! Or click here for my mixed berry crumble recipe.
5. Peppers: Chili peppers are loaded with vitamin C and are, thus, a powerful antioxidant, but this pretty food takes anti-aging a few steps even further. They help keep your skin clear from acne, as well as from skin rashes such as psoriasis. (A disease characterized by red, flaky skin with white scales.) In addition, chili peppers help speed up your metabolism. Hooray!
6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes increase the lycopene content in your skin, which protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. And remember, nothing ages your skin more than the sun. No, eating tomatoes every day does not excuse you from applying sunscreen. But, as damaging as the sun can be to our skin, we need all the help we can get!
7. Butternut Squash: Eating butternut squash is one of the best things you can do for your skin. It promotes cellular turnover, so your skin stays baby-soft. The beta carotene and vitamin C also helps protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays and provides a powerful antioxidant. I love this pretty food roasted with just a little olive oil and black pepper.
8. Bone Broth: I’m not one to jump on a nutritional band-wagon. And bone broth has been very popular this past year, the kind of trend that usually causes me to roll my eyes. But when I noticed an acquaintance of mine looking like her skin was slightly more tight, I HAD to try it. Guess what? It works. Bone broth is rich in collagen. Now I’m not the sucker who believes that drinking collagen goes straight to your skin (future blog to come), but it does supply nutrients needed for our bodies to produce our own collagen. And I have to admit, the broth makes me feel (and look) good.
9. Cantaloupe: Packed with vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex, this powerhouse of a melon has all the right ingredients to create beautiful skin. In addition, cantaloupe aids in enabling weight loss and preventing hair loss. It’s super sweet, without creating spikes in your blood sugar, so it’s a perfect snack when you have a sweet-tooth.
10. Matcha: I’ve been a green tea drinker for decades. Recently, however, I’ve up’d my game by switching to Matcha. Matcha is a ground, emerald-colored powder, made from the whole green tea leaf. It has more than twice the amount of antioxidants as regular green tea. In addition, the powder form makes it easy to add to practically anything. It’s anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, energy and mood booster, and it stimulates your metabolism. This is a “pretty food” on steroids (or… on Matcha).
Ok, I added an extra one. #11. I almost left it off the list because it’s a bit of a no-brainer. But as I’m writing this blog, and guzzling glass after glass of water, it just didn’t feel right without adding it to the list.
11. Water: Again, a no-brainer, right? The average adult body is made up of 50-65% water. If our insides are dehydrated due to inadequate water intake, you will see the effects in your skin. Think raisin verses grape. Hydrated skin is more plump, whereas skin that is dehydrated appears more wrinkled, duller, and imperfections are more exaggerated. I’d prefer to look like a grape, thank you very much! If you find it difficult to drink enough plain ol’ water, try my H2O Infusion recipes.
So there you have it. Since we really are what we eat, make sure you are eating “pretty food.”