When it comes to health and skin issues there are many questions. What’s wrong with me? Is it what I eat? Why can’t I lose weight? Why does my skin look so ragged? If there are hidden nasties in so many foods how can I avoid them? If they are that bad why are they in there? Can these ingredients affect the way I look and feel? Would they have anything to do with my allergies and sensitivities?
This week I would love to focus in on this massive topic and look at how food additives impact lives and are not designed to be part of the food chain at all. I would also like to give you some of nature’s most awesome alternatives – in the top 12 Super foods so it’s not all doom and gloom!
FOOD ADDITIVES – A MAJOR AGER!
If we take a close look at what a food additive is we see very quickly it is not an ingredient to be eaten as a food by itself, neither is it normally found as a natural ingredient in nature. Which begs the question why are they in there?
Additives are a food manufacturer’s dream. They can be used to give stability and preserve a product, to add colour or flavour, and to help in the processing of other ingredients.
It is now a legal requirement in most developed countries for all ingredients and additives to be listed according to weight. However, there’s a catch. If the manufacturer themselves did not add the additive – it may have been added before they received the ingredient – then they are not required to list it. How scary is that? It means that even though you have a list of ingredients on the label, they may not necessarily be all of the ingredients in that food.
A lot of additives have numbers as well as a name. The manufacturer may choose to list the name or number of the additive but is not required to list both. It may be a good idea to get to know what the different numbers mean so you can easily identify them. Here is a list of the most common food additives, some of which are suspected carcinogens, others of which are known to cause adverse reactions in some people with symptoms like mood swings, skin allergies, hyperactivity, upset stomach, headaches, migraines and nausea to name a few.
100-181 – Colourings
200-297 – Preservatives and food acids.
300-381 – Antioxidants, mineral salts and food acids.
400-579 – Emulsifiers, stabilisers, humectants, mineral salts, vegetable gums, anti-caking agents, firming agents, flour treatment agents.
620-637 – Flavour enhancers. Flavour Enhancers bring out the flavour or aroma of a product but do not contribute any flavour of their own. Number 621, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is one of the most common examples. This chemical flavour enhancer is associated with significant health risks. It can cause palpitations, headaches, dizziness, numbness and can also trigger allergies such as asthma in some people. Flavour enhancers are used in savoury foods like crackers, stock and gravy powders, instant noodle sachets and sauces.
900-1202 – Sweetening agents, bleaching agents, propellants (aerosols), anti-foaming agents, glazing agents. Sweeteners are used as a replacement of sugar in foods like soft drinks, yoghurts, chewing gum, protein powders and weight loss products. Aspartame (951) and Sucralose (955) are two of the more commonly used, and there are questions about their safety.
1400-1450 – Thickeners.
1505-1520 – Sequestrants and Solvents.
For more information on food additives you can go to the Environmental Working Group and check out the Dirty Dozen guide to food additives.
SLOW & JERF Eating
If you want to get healthy and make eating really simple then there are two philosophies that I love to live by. It’s not about whether you are paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or gluten free, these two philosophies sit across all styles of eating.
First up go SLOW! This is simply:
S – Seasonal
L – Local
O – Organic
W – Whole
Eat foods that are in season (nature really does know what she’s doing here!). Local means you are living according to your environment and supporting local farmers and food providers. Organic means you are advocating the importance of not eating foods chemically bombarded or stripped of their vital nutrients by herbicides, pesticides and other nasties that deplete the soils and food of its nutritional profile. And whole, simply means eating as close to nature as possible, with very little interference.
Then think about becoming a JERF’er!
J – Just
E – Eat
R – Real
F – Food
Don’t need to say too much about this except take it on board. Do not eat packaged foods or anything that has numbers, additives, preservatives and or flavourings. Many processed foods can look like, even taste like the food it is intended to be, but it is far from what nature would call a real food.
Taking on these two principles alone could set you on a path of wellness like no other.
So let’s look even closer at what our body and skin loves.
It can be easy to be overwhelmed by these chemical nasties that lurk unseen in modern food products. Fortunately, there’s an upside. Mother Nature has an abundance of healthy foods and amazing nutrients designed for optimal health and wellness. Here’s how they fit into our needs.
- Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs
- Good Carbohydrates
- Vitamins & Minerals
- Quality fats
It’s no wonder we bring water to your attention first.. You already know approximately 70 per cent of your body is made up of water. Your skin craves water daily. Water is used as a medium in many of your body’s processes, for example, digestion and absorption. It helps dissolve nutrients so they can pass into the bloodstream via the intestinal walls. It helps lubricate your body, it helps keep your skin plump and hydrated and it helps regulate your body temperature with perspiration, cooling the body as it evaporates on the skin. Water also carries waste products around and from your body.
It’s important to drink plenty of good clean water every single day. The key is committing to it and actually drinking it! A great way to get adequate water into your body is to fill a 1 litre water bottle at the beginning of the day and aim to get through it before bed. Better still refill it and try to get through two of them!
Quick ways to get more water into your daily diet.
~ Have a glass of warm water every morning with half a squeezed lemon in it (see the 28-Day Aroma Living Programme)
~ Increase your fruit and vegetable intake as these contain a higher water content than most processed foods.
~ Drink a glass of water about 20 minutes prior to every meal and snack.
~ Drinking more water may seem hard at first, especially with more regular visits to the toilet, but stick with it. This lessens as you get used to it and you will see results almost immediately. Your body and skin will thank you for it. And remember, water is calorie free.
As well as the water you drink, if you can make 70 per cent of your diet water- based you are onto a winner. That is foods consisting of high water content such as fruits, vegetables, salads, soups and sprouts. This will enable you to reach an optimal water intake each day with ease.
One seemingly controversial topic is around whether we should drink water with our meals. A lot of alternative health professionals advise that you should not because it dilutes the digestive juices. Maybe it depends on the water content of the meal. Saliva is 99 per cent water, which suggests that we need water to digest our food. For example, let’s take a look at two breakfasts. The first is a dry cereal with a small amount of milk and sugar, and toast with butter and honey. The second is a piece of fresh fruit, then a chia porridge with grated apple, coconut yoghurt and honey. Compare the two. The first has virtually no water content, but the second breakfast is swimming in it. Eat the first meal and your body will signal it needs water, but with the second meal, the need for fluids will be little or maybe nothing, because the water is within the meal.
If you eat a dry or salty meal, by all means follow your body’s instincts and drink water. But try a meal of fresh veggies and or salads, and find out how great water tastes when it’s packaged by Mother Nature.
Protein is the most plentiful substance in your body next to water, and is an absolute must for healthy skin. Your skin, nails and hair are about 97 per cent protein, and your body relies on it for cell repair, to create important enzymes and antioxidants and to balance your blood sugars. Unfortunately, your body does not store protein so it’s important that you get adequate amounts every day. A deficiency in protein will show as premature aging, weak hair and nails, and you may notice you crave more carbohydrates and sweets (another skin enemy).
Best sources are grass-fed, free range meats, fish and eggs, then plant sources like nuts, lentils and beans.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids are one of the key nutrients for great health. These fats are called essential as your body does not produce them and therefore relies solely on the foods you eat or supplements you take. EFAs have a vital role in the health of your hormones, they lubricate all your tissues including the fatty layer just beneath your skin. These are the ‘good fats’, known as Omega 3, 6 and 9. There is a significant imbalance in today’s food intake as we get an abundance of Omega 6 fats from all the vegetable oils used in foods like sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn oils, yet we don’t get enough of Omega 9’s found in avocado and olive oils and we are particularly deficient in Omega 3’s, which we get from oily fish like salmon, tuna and sardines, flaxseed oils and fresh walnuts. These Omega 3 oils have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, and are extremely beneficial for helping most skin conditions ranging from inflamed oily skin to dry skin. This is because your skin demands a constant supply of EFA’s in order to flood the new cells coming through. Sun exposure increases the need for EFA’s as UV diminishes EFA’s in the skin.
Your body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which provides fuel for your cells. This is very important because your brain, your nervous system and every cell in your body needs a constant supply in order to function healthily. However, the types of carbohydrates you choose can greatly effect not only the health of your skin but your moods and energy levels. The simple rule is ‘get close to nature’: Processed carbohydrates like white bread, packaged biscuits, donuts, packaged snack foods and sweets (in other words Technology Foods) undermine the health of your skin as they cause a sudden rise in your blood sugars, which increase your output of insulin and cortisol, enemies to aging gracefully. The key is to choose chemical-free fruits and vegetables and quality whole grains and legumes if you can eat them, to make up your carbohydrate needs. They not only provide a steady release of energy for your cells but include a rich supply of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as well.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamin A (retinol) is the moisturising nutrient. It helps keep your skin smooth and pliable, by supplying this much needed nutrient to the fat lying under your skin. It is essential for cell growth and repair and it helps your immune system fight bacteria and infections. Vitamin A also promotes the formation of healthy bones and teeth. It is a fat soluble vitamin so caution is needed if supplementing as it is stored in the body, and can become toxic in high doses. Naturally it occurs in liver and cod liver oil. Another great way to get your Vitamin A is by eating foods known as carotenes or carotenoids. These are part of the phytonutrient family in our fruits and vegetables. They are brightly coloured, orange and yellow, as well as dark green. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A when needed in the body. Beta-carotene promotes new cell growth, which aids in healing, supports the skin against premature aging and acts as an antioxidant. It also works synergistically with vitamin E to help protect the skin against UV damage, so making sure you have enough of both of these vitamins over summer is crucial to protecting your skin against the damaging effects of the sun. A common indication of a deficiency will show itself as ‘chicken skin’ which is small raised bumps on the back of the shoulders, upper arms or neck.
Beta-carotene is rich in foods like butternut pumpkin and carrots, green leafy vegetables such as silver beet, spinach and broccoli, and fruits such as apricots and cantaloupe.
Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) protects your cells from free radicals and is essential to increase your cell life, promote healing, preventing scarring and to slow the aging process. It helps to form and protect red blood cells, nerves and muscles. It also protects other vitamins and helps inhibit blood clots. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, and works closely with vitamin C and selenium as a potent anti-oxidant team.
Vitamin C (ascorbate, ascorbic acid) speeds up cell regeneration for wounds, scars and fracture healing, and boosts immunity. It is also an important co-factor in helping your body manufacture collagen, which sits in the dermis of the skin giving your skin its bounce and support. It has a huge antioxidant role, and a deficiency in this important vitamin will show in skin, which is slow to heal and quick to bruise, premature wrinkling and a low resistance to colds and flus. We can’t manufacture our own vitamin C so our body relies on getting it in our food. It is a water-soluble vitamin so it quickly passes through our body, in fact vitamin C activity only lasts about 6 hours inside us hence the need to replace it regularly. Having a diet high in vegetables and some fruits as well as supplementing if needed can ensure your body has enough of the mighty vitamin.
Just be aware skin care products that claim they deliver a high dose of vitamin C into the skin topically. Vitamin C is extremely fragile and hard to stabilize in a cream therefore most of these creams are not doing much!
Vitamin B is an important group of vitamins including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, biotin, B12 (cobalamin) and B15 (choline). They work best as a team and have a vital role to play in promoting a healthy and glowing skin. Ever had little painful cracks in the corners of your mouth or eye? This indicates a lack of vitamin B. They are widely known as ‘the stress vitamins’ because when you are under stress vitamins B’s are depleted easily, hence your need for more at these times. The B vitamins help your body metabolise food so that you get the nutrients you need. They support a healthy nervous system and are needed for good circulation and wound healing. They are found in brewers’ yeast, liver, meat, fish, eggs and poultry, milk, as well as fruits, vegetables (again, dark leafy ones are good!), nuts, quality rice, seeds and some whole grain foods.
Sulphur is housed in every cell of your body and is particularly high in the keratin cells like your hair and nails. It promotes strength and shine. It helps to regulate the uptake of nutrients into your cells, and helps eliminates wastes. The best source of sulphur is methyl-sulphonyl-methane, or MSM. MSM is a naturally occurring organic sulphur compound found in all living plant and animal tissue. It functions as an antioxidant, preventing loss of collagen and supporting connective tissue in the skin. Sulphur helps nutrients and fluids to flow through the cells by increasing their permeability. It also works closely with glucosamine and helps eliminate toxins from your cells relieving inflammation. In fact, a good level of MSM in the body can help relieve allergy sufferers. MSM also supports good digestion, helping us to absorb efficiently from our food, and can help in the regulation of blood sugars. Garlic is a great source of this mighty little mineral, but remember that sulphur is destroyed by any food processing, so if you think you are lacking in sulphur, supplementation may be beneficial.
Zinc supports a good healthy immune system. You need zinc for healing skin, for wounds, scars and stretch marks, to support the formation of collagen in the skin, and to keep your skin supple. It is also crucial in times of body development such as puberty and pregnancy. Zinc is found in a variety of foods, with oysters delivering one of the highest doses. Other sources are meats and poultry, eggs, miso beans, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and whole grains.
Selenium is the major mineral antioxidant and is required for many processes in the body. Vitamin E and selenium reinforce each other and compensate for one another when there is a slight deficiency in one. Selenium helps to slow down the aging process by preventing cross-linking in the skin, which leads to wrinkles; it also supports good skin texture and smoothness. It is important for every cell function in the body and has been identified as a key factor in preventing depression and mood swings. It is found in shellfish and meat as well as some quality whole grains. However, plant sources can be low because a lot of our soils are deficient in selenium. Taking a good antioxidant supplement is often recommended to provide you with good levels of this important mineral.
Copper is another interesting little mineral involved in supporting your collagen and elastin levels as well as in the production of glycosaminoglycans or GAGs. These little molecules hold moisture in the skin. Good sources are seafood, almonds, sunflower seeds, beans and some whole grains.
Chromium, another important mineral, helps your body metabolise sugars, insulin, fatty acids, cholesterol and proteins, which all work on the skin. It is known to help reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass. The main food sources are shellfish, wheat germ and broccoli. During the processing of foods up to 70 per cent of chromium may be lost, making it a mineral that is frequently deficient in western diets.
Silica is found in the connective tissues, cartilage and your skin, but it is your skin and hair that require the most. It retains moisture making fibres and skin plump and smooth, strong and taut. If you have brittle nails and hair you may be showing signs of a silica deficiency. Good food sources for this mineral are unrefined wholegrains (rye, barley, oats, wheat) oatmeal and rice bran, alfalfa sprouts, nuts and seeds.
Coenzyme Q10 works as a powerful antioxidant in your cells. It works synergistically with vitamin E. Coenzyme Q10 is like an energy booster in your body. It directly effects the cells’ energy production otherwise known as ATP, the fuel of your cells. If there is not enough good fuel and your cells are not running efficiently then they will start to slow down and deteriorate, in other words, age more quickly.
Coenzyme Q10 is primarily found in fish and meat. While our body can produce some of it itself, it relies directly on the food we eat to get the rest. The highest dietary sources of coenzyme Q10 come from fresh sardines and mackerel, the heart, liver and meat of beef, lamb and pork along with eggs. We also get smaller amounts from vegetable sources such as spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ and whole grains. It is also important to note that only fresh and whole foods can be regarded as good sources. Any processing destroys this fragile enzyme.
The body is an amazing machine. Every time you look at the research, especially emerging research, you see that the complexity of the body goes far beyond the science we know today. We just see the tip of the iceberg. That’s a good reason to trust the innate wisdom of the body. It knows how to be healthy but it needs the right fuel to do so.
Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your intestinal tract. We need an abundance of these good bugs to have a healthy immune system and healthy skin. When we have a shortage of good bugs – very common in today’s diets with processed and devitalised foods – or when we destroy our good bugs through taking antibiotics, we create imbalances which lead to conditions such as candida albicans, and not only effect the gut but also create problems such as acne, allergies, eczema and itchy skin. Many microbiologists believe that this shortage of good bacteria is the underlying cause of so many auto-immune conditions, as well as premature aging too. A good real food diet, especially one high in fresh vegetables, fermented foods and good strains of bacteria will help feed – and heal – the micro-biome. Supplementing with a high quality fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi is recommended as highly beneficial. You can get a great all round food powdered probiotics like what Cyndi O’Meara offers at Changing Habits or if you are needing some real power healing then getting your own culture starter from someone highly regarded in this field like Kirsty Wirth from Kultured Wellness is ideal. A good quality unsweetened acidophilus and bifidus yoghurt will supply minimal needs.
Top 12 Super Foods For A Health Body And Glowing Skin
Nature has made it easy for us to supply our skin with vital nutrients by providing plentiful supplies of everyday foods that could be re-named Super Foods – foods your body and skin loves. In all honesty ANY foods that are from nature, not chemically altered or interfered with or packaged should be considered a super food, but here are a few faves!
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat. Avocado supplies us with Omega 9 (Oleic Acid). Oleic acid which we also get from olives is renowned for keeping our hearts and skin healthy. Also rich in folate, magnesium and vitamin E, it packs a very healthy punch every time we bite into its smooth creamy texture. Since it is great for the skin inside and out, try mashing up an avocado and applying it straight onto your skin. You’ll see the benefits of its oils straight away, as it nourishes and smoothens.
Beetroot is one of the best liver cleansing vegetables, which helps keep your skin clear. Beautiful freshly grated on top of a salad.
Broccoli has one of the highest nutrient values. Rich in carotenoids, vitamin C and B, calcium phosphorus and potassium, it is also known to be high in chromium, which helps regulates blood sugars and sweet cravings. And like the other members of the ‘crucifer family, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflower, broccoli is rich in indoles, potent cancer fighting substances. To get the best nutritional value steam until it turns bright green and is still a little crunchy.
Blueberries are not only delicious divine but are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Blueberries help to slow the aging process by protecting your cell health. In fact they contain more disease fighting antioxidants than any other single fruit. Great on porridge for breakfast.
Chia is a little seed loaded with the most essential fatty acids of any known plant. Plus, one serving of the stuff is loaded with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium.
Eggs are a wonderful protein source loaded with nutrients and are considered one of the best of all superfoods. A single large egg is just about 70 calories and offers six grams of protein. Eggs are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for normal body function and heart health.
Garlic, the humble little garlic is a powerhouse of sulphur with natural antibiotic properties; it keeps skin looking clear and healthy. When it comes to supplementing, fresh garlic is far superior to the supplement form, so start adding it into your cooking today.
Kale is one of the most potent greens we could be eating. This super green food is tops when it comes to nutrition, providing more antioxidants than most other fruits and vegetables! It’s also a fantastic source of fibre, calcium, and iron. You can prepare it virtually any way, from boiled or steamed to roasted with a little tamari and apple cider vinegar!).
Kiwifruit is a real food all-star, offering an array of health giving properties. Equivalent quantities deliver more vitamin C than the orange, and we all know how great vitamin C is for our skin especially encouraging collagen production which is what keeps our skin looking fresh and firm.
Nuts & Seeds are one of the easiest and most convenient health foods you can get today. Have a jar of raw or lightly dry roasted nuts and seeds in the house as they are a great snack that really satisfies because of the fat content. While all nuts and seeds have benefits for your health, almonds and walnuts are champions for your skin. Almonds supply your skin with a great dose of vitamin E to strengthen and heal it while walnuts supply it with Essential Fatty Acids of Omega 3 (Alpha-linolenic acid) which provide the building blocks to achieve great skin. Now while a lot of people avoid nuts thinking they are fattening, a small handful of nuts a day provides your body with ‘good fat’ and good fats speed up weight loss!
Spinach, touted as one of the most nutritious foods on earth along side its other green leafy friends, spinach is impressive. It protects cells, muscles and skin from aging and degeneration and protects against cancer and heart disease. While it is too complex to go into all the nutrients spinach provides, just know that it is amazing, and to eat more of it!
If you would like to get more involved in your food, understand how it is affecting you and want to do something about breaking some poor habits then you can certainly attend one of our Low-Tox Living Workshops or try our 28 Day Aroma Living Online Program. The learnings and results are incredible and well worth taking on.