My wife has beautiful skin.
She has the type of skin that has a lit-from-within quality to it. In fact, her skin looks the most beautiful without a trace of make-up on it, as it does when she first wakes up in the morning.
While many women spend hundreds of dollars on expensive facial creams and on expensive facial treatments in an effort to have the kind of skin my wife has, Susan’s skin is naturally radiant because of what she puts in her body, rather than on it. She likes to think of her daily vegetable juice and fruit smoothies as her “facials,” since they cleanse her body on the inside and allow her to rid her body of any toxins that can be the cause of premature aging, wrinkles or a dull complexion.
As a doctor and as a nutrition and whole-body wellness expert, I have seen many women transform the look and feel of their skin simply by reforming their diets. It is not a coincidence that Asian women, like my wife, are known for their flawless skin. The typical Asian diet, which consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods, is the key to their radiant appearance. Today, I would like to share with my readers a list of 10 nutrient dense super foods that can not only give you a glowing complexion, but can prevent signs of premature aging and foster whole-body wellness as well.
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Did you know that you can help your skin by eating more pineapple? Pineapple contains bromelain, which not only aids in digestion but also helps your body form more collagen. More collagen means more new skin cells for softer, smoother skin. In addition, the bromelain in fresh, ripe pineapple helps to cleanse the blood of toxins and contributes to better circulation.
Cooking or canning destroys this powerful enzyme, so be sure to eat your pineapple raw. Also, the tougher center of the fruit contains the highest concentration of bromelain, so in addition to eating the wonderful softer sweeter parts of the pineapple, cut up some of the center stalk to eat or toss them into the blender as part of a tasty smoothie.
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Commonly used as a distinctive spice in Indian cuisine, turmeric (or haldi as it is known in India), offers multiple benefits for the skin. As a paste, turmeric can help heal wounds, such as small cuts and burns, and it makes a great exfoliate.
Turmeric contains antioxidants that help stimulate new cell growth and help maintain the skin’s elasticity. The sunny-looking spice also is known to heal and prevent dry skin, to diminish wrinkles, and to keep acne at bay. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory — so it will help with any puffiness or swelling you may have.
Turmeric looks a lot like ginger, but it is bright orange on the inside. Try grating it into vegetable dishes or multi-grain rice dishes. Or try it with hummus. It’s great added to vegetable juice as well.
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The pear is quite simply a powerhouse for your skin. Rich in fiber, an essential nutrient for your skin, pears are also packed with copper, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins C, E, B and K. Pears also are moderate sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin, which help protect the body from harmful free radicals.
There are many types of pears, with the most common varieties including: Anjou – red or green varieties with a sweet taste; Bosc – golden color with a honey-sweet flavor; Bartlett – yellow or red varieties, often found in fruit salads; Comice – green, often with reddish spot-colored areas, sweet; Seckel – small green-olive colored pear with very sweet flavor.
Pears are great to eat on their own or in salads. Try them with raw goat cheese, vegetables or other fruits.
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Vitamin C helps to heal damaged tissues and to minimize deep lines and wrinkles. When you think of vitamin C, you usually think of oranges, but did you know that cabbages contain about 11 percent more vitamin C than oranges by weight? Cabbages are also packed with vitamin A, which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines on your face.
To reap the most nutritional benefits of the cabbage, cook it lightly. Try steaming the vegetable or sautéing it. Or eat raw sauerkraut, which is simply fermented cabbage or kimchi, which many Asian women eat on regular basis for beautiful skin and to promote a healthy digestive flora. I recommend the Wildbrine brand.
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Carrots are high in vitamin C and in beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients for healthy skin. It helps repair skin tissue and protects against the sun’s harmful rays. Vitamin A also helps prevents wrinkling, acne, dry skin, blemishes and an uneven skin tone.
Crunch your carrots raw, in a salad or add it to your juice for a delicious, sweet flavor.
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The healthy properties of watercress have been written about since ancient times. A rich source of beta carotene that helps fight skin-damaging free radicals, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges when you measure gram for gram. It also has four times more vitamin A than apples, tomatoes and broccoli; more vitamin E than broccoli; more calcium than whole milk and more iron than spinach.
All that and it is super easy to add to your diet. Just add some to your favorite Ezekiel sprouted bread sandwich or in your salad. Watercress also can add extra flavor and nutrition to soups and sweet potatoes.
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7. Raw Coconut Oil
Recent studies show that coconut oil, the most nutrient dense part of the coconut, is loaded with antioxidants that help fight the cell-damaging free radicals that contribute to premature aging and disease. Coconut oil is a great substitute in the kitchen for butter or vegetable oils. Use it in your favorite baked goods or for cooking eggs. Because it tolerates high temperatures well, you can use coconut oil one-for-one in place of butter or other oils in most recipes.
You also can apply coconut oil directly to your skin as a natural moisturizer. I recommend that you look for a raw, organic cold -pressed version like the one offered by Sunfood.
Need more proof? Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr said in an interview: “I will not go a day without coconut oil.”
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Fresh lemon not only tastes great, but it can support the work your liver does in cleansing your body. Since the liver is the main detoxifying organ we have, it works to clear up skin blemishes and acne. So eating more lemons can help you have clearer skin.
How to add more lemon to your diet? Squeeze a wedge or two of lemon into your glass of water for flavor, nutrients and detoxifying benefits. Use fresh lemon juice on a tossed salad or on your steamed veggies. Or add small chunks of lemon to your next fruit salad.
The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon peel help promote healthier skin by removing the impurities found in skin cells. Antioxidants in lemon peel detoxify the skin, making the peel beneficial for treating pimples and acne. For an invigorating facial scrub:
- Cut a large lemon into two to four pieces, squeezing the juices into a bowl.
- Cut up the lemon peel and mix it into the juice.
- Add a teaspoon of raw honey and apply it to your face.
- Leave mixture on for about 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
The nutrient MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) is a naturally-occurring sulfur compound found in all fresh raw foods. Interestingly, it appears to be rain-based, since studies show it to be deficient in foods grown in greenhouses and in those grown through irrigation.
Long-known for its benefits to our joints, MSM helps to increase flexibility and to hasten an athlete’s recovery time from injuries. MSM also is important for the skin. Because it works to build collagen, MSM helps to create smoother skin, thicker hair and stronger nails.
Most Americans do not get enough MSM in their diets because the compound is rapidly lost when we cook our food. A great way to add more MSM to your diet is by taking it in powder form, especially in combination with foods that are rich in vitamin C. I recommend Sunfood and Doctor’s Best as two good brand choices. Try mixing one tablespoon of the powder with two cups of filtered water or fresh fruit juice.
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Along with spinach and chard, beets belong to the chenopod family, and it is amazing how much nutritional value is packed into this one food. Beets are a fantastic source of anthocyanins – a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation, slow down the aging process and help prevent wrinkles.
Beets are high in folate, which is known to help stimulate and repair new cells. New skin cells mean the skin looks and feels smoother and has better elasticity. Beets also contain nitrates that contribute to blood flow and help you have a healthier glow. If you need another reason to add beets to your diet, they are a tonic for the liver, which works as a purifier for the body.
Heating beets decreases their antioxidant power, so eat them fresh and raw by adding them to your daily juice recipe. Cut off the stems just below the point where the leaves start, and wash them thoroughly before adding them to a tossed salad. For a side dish, sauté the leaves along with garlic and extra virgin olive oil until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender.
Supermodel Skin Secrets
When you read about the lifestyles of today’s top models and celebrities, you’ll find a growing interest in plant-based diets, consisting of many of the same foods listed above. Supermodels like Gisele Bunchden, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Miranda Kerr and Valentina Zelyaeva realize the effect the food they eat has on the appearance of their skin.
In addition to eating fresh vegetables and fruits, these supermodels also nourish their skin by drinking plenty of water and fresh organic juice to flush away toxins and to promote cellular renewal. I like to keep a glass carafe of filtered water with several slices of lemons, cucumber and oranges in it handy to drink throughout the day.
Drinking coconut water is another great choice, as you will get some of the amazing health benefits of coconut while keeping hydrated. Coconut water, which is the clear liquid that is extracted from young, green coconuts, contains two important minerals that help balance fluids in the body — sodium and potassium.