We live in a society that’s pretty obsessed with beauty—outer beauty that is. The makeup industry is a multi-billion dollar corporation, and the average medicine cabinet is overflowing with lotions and potions and concoctions promising to make up more beautiful. More youthful. More desirable. Beauty is a business, and booming one at that. Somewhere along the way though, health and beauty became two very separate entities. The ingredients in these “anti-aging” and “beautifying” products often cause way more harm than good.
Recently, I went to my dermatologist for the good old Let There Be No Skin Cancer checkup (all good in the hood; all those years of drenching myself in SPF and assiduously hiding under an umbrella at the beach like a stowaway vampire have finally paid off). I had just run out of the nighttime essential oils I use, so I asked about moisturizers and an anti-aging cream. She gave me two products and sent me on my merry way. Both creams cost around $200 (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL) and what’s worse, when I looked at the list of ingredients, they were decidedly bad for my body. In fact, one warned me not use if I were pregnant as the ingredients might cause cell mutation or disruption to the fetus. UM, WFT. Why would I want to put that on my FACE? Obviously, I returned the products, but it made me realize what great lengths we as a society go through to achieve and maintain youthful skin, when the actual solution is….simple. Natural. And, yup, plant based.
We can slather on the most expensive creams and serums in the world, but if we have a rotten diet, we’re aging our skin faster than we can preserve it. The good news is the reverse is also true. A thoughtful, intelligent diet can also combat the effects of aging. And you know what? It’s hella cheaper, too.
The literally beautiful thing about investing in healthy foods for our bodies is that not only does a whole foods, plant based diet transforms us from the inside-out. It also provide much needed fuel to feel our best and keeps us more hormonally balanced. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look our best, but I personally believe it’s more important to feel and be our best Self that we can be.
What ages your skin?
Free radicals are the major cause of aging. They’re found in the environment, in processed foods, in just about everything—and they damage cells. This leads to, among other things, premature wrinkles. Other factors contributing to wrinkled, spotted skin include normal aging, exposure to the sun (photoaging) and pollution, and loss of subcutaneous support (fatty tissue between your skin and muscle).
Don’t get depressed yet. The good news is that the ingredients in plant-based foods can both protect and reverse the effects of aging. I know this to be true. Over the years, my skin has aged backwards. I don’t naturally have the best skin ever, but I’ve witness a radical change since I changed my diet and lifestyle. My skin looks younger and healthier now than when I graduated from college. I’m not kidding. I should also add I don’t use any expensive products or wear makeup other than blush and tinted moisturizer and a natural tinted lipgloss. I used to never be able to leave my house without layers of foundation on, but now I can keep my beauty and skin routine simple and natural. Again, some people are blessed with naturally gorgeous everything, and I am most definitely not in that category. I credit plants with keeping my body vibrant from the inside-out.
Raw spinach is so crazy good for you, that you should just think of it as an all-around power beautifying food. It’s loaded with beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A. This beauty vitamin helps retain proper moisture, eliminate wrinkles, and removes dead cells so your skin glows.
This power food has a long list of other essential vitamins and minerals, but one of the most surprising things about spinach is that per calorie, spinach has more protein than ground beef. 100 calories of ground beef has 10 grams of protein while 100 calories of fresh baby spinach has 12 grams.
Spinach also has concentrated health-promoting phytonutrients which provide mega powerful antioxidant protection against free-radicals. In other words, spinach for the win. Popeye the sailor was on to something smart, folks!
Let’s get one things straight: avocados are delicious AF. I could eat guacamole by the bucketful…wait, I have. When I’m cooking, I make it rain avocados and basically put them on anything and everything. They’re pretty much the bacon of the vegan world. Need to make a sandwich taste better? Add avocados. Wimpy salad? Throw in some avocados. Suffering from dry, lackluster skin? A.V.O.C.A.D.O.S.
Avocados are not only God’s gift to any menu, but they have powerful anti-aging effects on the skin and joints. The high monounsaturated fat content instantly rejuvenates and moisturizes skin from the inside-out, which prevents premature wrinkling. They’re also rich in beauty vitamins K, A, C, and E. But wait! There’s more! Avocados contain a ton of minerals and antioxidant enzymes. The amino acid glutamine helps protect your skin from environmental damage, and is a key contributor to preventing aging. So now you can go to Chipotle and order that side o’ gauc and call it your shot of anti-aging treatment. Forget the botox. Eat guac.
Oh, and if you’re freaking out about the fat content, don’t. Yes, they’re high in fat, but it’s healthy fat. In fact, it’s the exact kind of fat that your brain uses for fuel and your cells require for rejuvenation.
Red Bell Peppers
This is one of my favorite snacks. I sprinkle a small blizzard of salt on them (bad, I know) and eat raw red peppers by the dozen (good). This beauty food is low in calories but insanely high in vitamin C. Why is this vitamin so essential? Well, obviously, it helps get you through the dreaded cold and flu season with nary a scratchy throat, but vitamin C is also your best friend when it comes to maintain gorgeous skin.
Vitamin C helps repair and regenerate collagen, which is a protein that provides firmness to your skin. As we age, we lose collagen, and our skin begins sagging and becoming wrinkly and dry. Another benefit of red bell peppers is that they contain silicon, which is a mineral that gives you supple, youthful skin by strengthening the collagen and elastin of your skin.
Tip—> Eat your red peppers raw or barely cooked, because heat denatures the enzymes and strips veggies and fruit of their healthy benefits.
Blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.
If that’s not enough to convince you to try out this delicious smoothie, there are actually a ton of other fantastic reasons. Some other benefits:
- Low in calories, but HIGH in nutrients
- Major source of antioxidants to combat aging
- Blueberries reduce DNA damage, which protects against not only wrinkles but also cancer
- Boost the Brain function and memory
- Support Digestion
- Promote Heart Health
- Aid Weight Loss
A great way to get your blueberries and spinach in is by trying out my anti-aging fat-blasting blueberry smoothie recipe.
Eating your way to beautiful skin not only delivers amazing results, but those anti-aging benefits help the entire body. One of the biggest signs of aging is not only seen in our skin, but also in our lack of vitality and robustness. Combat all signs of aging from the inside-out by adding more beautifying foods to your diet.