As a Nutritional Therapist, I like to focus on giving advice to my clients that can be incorporated into everyday life. I’m not a fan of diets or fads and I’m aware that unless the advice is do-able, it’s just not going to be adhered to. That’s why I often suggest ‘adding-in’ helpful practices. Here are some of my favourite small additions that could give you glowing skin if implemented regularly…
Drink a large glass of water upon waking
This is one of the nutrition basics but it’s one that can be so easily overlooked. Dehydration really shows on the skin as your body prioritises the more ‘vital’ organs. Some people love getting up and drinking hot water with lemon and that’s wonderful if you have the time. But, if you don’t then a large glass of water is just as hydrating. I also find it’s a much easier way of encouraging compliance.
Dry body brushing
This is great for lymphatic stimulation, as well as exfoliating the skin. Your lymph can only be moved manually as it doesn’t get ‘pumped’ in the same way your blood does. Practicing dry body brushing has been said to reduce cellulite and improve skin tone. Start at your feet and brush upwards in small circular motions towards your heart. For arms, begin at the hands and work upward. For the stomach, work in a counter-clockwise pattern. I prefer to do this in the morning rather than the evening as it can be quite energising. A couple of minutes before showering is ideal.
Alternating hot/cold shower
Again, this is great for your lymphatic system. It also helps to improve blood circulation. Blood flow to the surface is what carries the nutrients from your diet to the skin. I suggest alternating between hot and cold right at the end of showering, sticking to each temperature for about 20-30 seconds before switching (it’s meant to feel a little bracing but there’s no need to push it to where you feel uncomfortable). Then repeat this in total about three times.
Have an antioxidant-rich breakfast
Antioxidants are an essential part of the diet for healthy skin. They help protect against damaging ‘free radicals’ (the unstable chemicals in our environment that can cause premature ageing). They protect our collagen and elastin, vital proteins that maintain elasticity as well as increasing blood flow to the surface of our skin to help achieve that glow! They can be found in fruit and vegetables so it’s important to eat a wide variety (especially focus on ‘eating a rainbow’). Foods that are particularly high in antioxidants include blueberries, cherries and strawberries (or any seasonal berry in fact). That’s why I advocate including them in your breakfast in some way – either in a smoothie or as a topping for porridge or granola. My all-time favourite antioxidant-rich breakfast is an Açaí bowl.
Don’t forget about including ‘good’ fats
I think people are less scared nowadays about including fats in their diets (the bottom line: ‘good’ fat doesn’t make you fat). I encourage my clients to incorporate either avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butters, chia seeds, hemp seeds or flaxseeds into their breakfasts. The omega-3 fats found in these foods help keep skin plump as well as keeping you satiated for longer so less likely to eat sugary snacks. Omega-3 is also a great anti-inflammatory.
Topical vitamin C is big news these days. As well as being an antioxidant, it also plays a key role in collagen formation and synthesis (that’s the protein that keeps skin looking bouncy and youthful). I recommend both topical and dietary sources for maximum effect. Our bodies can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to regularly include sources of it in our diet. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits and berries.
Take your supplements with breakfast (and save the coffee for mid-morning)
You’re much more likely to remember to take supplements if you take them at the same time every day. Most supplements can be taken alongside your breakfast so it’s easier to remember. Try to avoid drinking coffee at the same time, however, as caffeine can inhibit nutrient absorption. It’s best to save coffee until mid-morning if possible.
Frances Phillips is a Nutritional Therapist and Health & Beauty Writer, www.thenaturaledit.com.