Dr Libby Weaver on how to eat yourself beautiful
While creams and serums are undeniably advanced these days, there’s no doubt that beauty begins on your plate. In her new book, holistic nutrition expert Dr Libby Weaver (PhD) decodes what it is we need to eat for general wellbeing, and helps us underst
When most people think about improving their appearance, they usually focus on a product: some kind of ‘quick fix’. Yet when you consider that the skin cells on your face are a small percentage of the total number of cells in the whole body, it seems crazy that we don’t spend more time getting the majority of our cells functioning optimally.
Beauty really is an inside job. How often do you stop to consider that your outer layer is merely a reflection of inner processes, completely reliant on the health of the 50 trillion cells that you are made of? And the health of those cells is influenced by everything from the food you eat and the nutrients present or missing from your blood, to the hormones and messages your body makes based on whether your thoughts are fearful or loving. Think about that.
I wrote my latest book, What Am I Supposed to Eat?, to help people get back in touch with their nutritional needs and to help them feel empowered to make food decisions that support their health — including the outer reflections. Your body is your best evidence for what works for you and what doesn’t. While it doesn’t have a voice, it will let you know with symptoms whether or not your choices support its best function. Many of these symptoms are visible on the outside. I cannot encourage you enough to go within and explore whether your body might be asking you to eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe, or perceive in a new way. You will know if it is. You may not like the answer, but the answer is there.
You have probably noticed that certain nutrients appear in skincare for topical application. I am a fan, however, of supplying all the body’s cells with nutrients so that they can be distributed where they need to go, including nourishing your skin.
When it comes to real food and the benefits it offers us, for me they are all super
foods — each has its own unique combination of nutritional value to offer you. Here is a list of a few key ‘beauty foods’ and their beauty benefits.
Kale is a wonderful source of the beauty vitamins A, C and E, which have potent anti-ageing properties and help promote healthy new cell growth. It is also loaded with minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, which skin needs to be healthy; these minerals are also critical to our ability to relax. Magnesium is considered to be the “mineral of beauty” in traditional Chinese medicine. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, with about 50 percent being found in our bones. This explains the connection between magnesium and bone density. What we don’t read as much about are the other 300 or more biochemical reactions occurring in the body for which magnesium is an essential cofactor, meaning the reactions inside your body don’t happen efficiently without it. Unfortunately, due to poor dietary habits such as a lack of vegetable intake, too much processed food and caffeine, pharmaceutical drug use, and nutrient-depleted soils, many people today are deficient in this essential mineral. Given the role magnesium plays in the proper functioning of nearly all of the systems of the body, this can have serious health and, therefore, beauty consequences. The health benefits of optimal magnesium intake include great energy (or a reduction in fatigue), balanced electrolytes, which are essential for hydration and beautiful skin, proper muscle and nervous-system functioning, good protein synthesis, and the maintenance of strong bones. What a mineral!
FRESH, SUSTAINABLE OILY FISH
This is a wonderful source of omega-3, which dampens down inflammation in the body and also helps keep skin moisturised.
Oily fish is our main dietary source of the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the health benefits of which have been well documented. They have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making them highly beneficial to the skin. They take up residence in the membrane (outside layer) of the cell and are able to exert their antiinflammatory effects and keep the cells flexible. Due to their physical structure (which contains double bonds), they themselves oxidise easily and are best consumed with an antioxidant-rich diet. Sardines and salmon (sustainably caught) are great oily fish options, both rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Kiwifruit is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Vitamin C does so many wonderful things for our health and beauty. It is highly effective at reducing free-radical damage, such as that caused by overexposure to the sun. Free radicals consume collagen and elastin, promoting wrinkles and other signs of premature ageing. Vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen — the elastic tissue that is found in the skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and blood vessels — not just the prevention of its breakdown. The health of your hair also depends on vitamin C, as it supports the blood vessels that feed the hair follicles and is critical for circulation to the scalp.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, a protective antioxidant that helps skin glow. Vitamin E also helps to renew skin cells, making them stronger by reducing oxidative stress. When the body experiences oxidative stress, cells can become weak, and your skin may look dull. An optimal intake of vitamin E may also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Sunflower seeds also contain zinc, which keeps your skin, hair, and eyes healthy, and is critical for wound healing and scar prevention. This mineral is particularly important for acne sufferers. Zinc controls the production of oil in the skin, and it also helps balance some of the hormones that can be involved in driving acne. Zinc is a superstar nutrient that contributes to hundreds of processes inside your body, plenty of which are reflected on the outside. It is required for proper immune-system function, as well as for the maintenance of vision, taste, and smell. It is essential to the creation of over 300 enzymes necessary for you to have great digestion, the foundation of all health and beauty. Zinc even nourishes the scalp, helping to maintain the integrity and strength of hair. Low zinc levels have been linked with hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp. It can be difficult to consume enough zinc each day, so in addition to seeds, supplement your dietary intake with a quality, food-based supplement.
The antioxidants in kiwifruit have also been shown to help protect against cancer and heart disease.
Dr Libby Weaver PhD is a best-selling author, speaker, and nutritional biochemist. Her new book and 11th title, What Am I Supposed to Eat?,
RRP $39.99, is available from www.drlibby.com.