As many of you know, healthy, glowing skin actually starts on the inside. There are hundreds of beauty products to choose from, however, it turns out that what you should be reaching for comes from the produce section of your super market!
We spoke to Shira Lenchewski, M.S., RD, LA-based Dietitian, to learn all about the importance of nutrition when it comes to achieving radiant skin:
What is your general approach when it comes to nutrition?
My approach is rooted in the two most basic — yet often conflicting — functions of food: nourishment and pleasure. Many of the diets you see in the media favor nutrition at the cost of pleasure, and that’s not something I can get behind. Because at the end of the day, enjoying delicious, flavorful food is part of a happy (and healthy) life.
Some people are very closed-minded when it comes to eating healthy. What’s the best way to try and reach them?
I’m big on dispelling misconceptions about what healthy eating really is. There’s still a pretty widespread stigma that healthy food means rubbery, grilled skinless chicken breast and flaccid steamed veggies. But doesn’t have to be true. Instead, it’s starting to become more about wonderfully tasting, high-quality dishes, made with whole foods, without excess added sugar. And the truth is, if you’re using high-quality ingredients, you really don’t have to do that much to the food to begin with (i.e. a little olive oil, sea salt and garlic, and you’re good to go).
Can you give us an example of what’s on your daily menu?
I usually start the day with two slices of gluten-free bread with grass-fed ghee, a tall glass of water, and sometimes a piece of seasonal fruit too. I like to do hot water with lemon, but truthfully this doesn’t always happen. After my workout, I like to have a super simple protein shake with hemp/rice milk, clean protein powder, frozen coconut meat, and local bee pollen.
Lunch and dinner vary depending on how I’m feeling, but I like to fill at least half my plate with veggies. I pair them with some high-quality animal protein, like dark-meat chicken, turkey meatballs or bison, and some kind of complex carb. I love having 1/2 cup beans or lentils as my carb source, because they are so versatile and keep me full.
After dinner I love a couple squares of dark chocolate.
What are the biggest misconceptions about healthy food for the skin?
The biggest misconception about healthy food for the skin is probably the old wives’ tale that eating fatty foods causes acne. It’s simply not true. For example, omega 3 fatty acids act as bouncers for skin cells at the membrane level, allowing nutrients and water in and keeping toxins out. Omega 3’s also decrease inflammation throughout the body, which, if anything, would translate to fewer breakouts.
What is the most underrated food that you can tell us about in terms of its nutritional value for our skin’s health?
High-quality fermented foods like raw kimchi, raw sauerkraut, and kefir deserve a lot more credit than they get, due to their beneficial effect on gut health.
We depend on the gut to identify, and respond to, a perpetual influx of environmental stimuli. These stimuli can be both beneficial (nutrients and good bacteria) and dangerous (pathogens and toxins). The lining of the gut works as the gatekeeper, deciding what stays in and what’s allowed to pass through into the bloodstream. And in order for this process to work, the gut ecosystem must be healthy. When the gut lining is irritated, the immune system kicks into high gear, causing inflammation. This can manifest in many ways, and skin irritation is a biggie.
Fortunately, “good” bacteria improve the integrity of the mucosal lining, and therefore can translate into less irritated skin. My feeling is, the healthier your gut is, the healthier your skin will be.
What are the top 10 foods for your skin’s health?
What foods are the worst for your skin’s health?
Anything that disrupts the gut lining and GI flora can translate to skin irritation. Processed food, excess sugar and alcohol are big ones.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will not only make you feel better on the inside but make you glow on the outside!
Thank you Shira for you expert advice!
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