A Nutritionist’s Skincare Routine
As a nutritionist, my skincare routine doesn’t begin and end with the products I put on my face. In fact, I know that what I put in my body is far more important! Our skin is a bit like a mirror, reflecting back to us what is going on inside our bodies and giving us a reflection of our overall health. Here’s what I do to keep mine looking its best.
Essential fats are a key part of my beauty routine, as they help keep skin moisturized and glowing as well as being anti-inflammatory. Oily fish are the best source, so I include 1 or 2 servings per week (usually wild salmon), along with a daily, high quality fish oil supplement. Nuts and seeds are the next best source of healthy fats; chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds are particularly good; I include a tablespoon daily with breakfast. These along with avocados also provide vitamin E, which helps skin heal, retain moisture and is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
You’ve heard it before, but water really is a must, to keep skin clear and hydrated. Being dehydrated also makes wrinkles appear worse. I begin my day with 500ml warm water, infused with slices of ginger, lemon and fresh turmeric. This rehydrates the body after the nighttime fast, stimulates digestion and the turmeric and ginger are energising and anti-inflammatory. I don’t drink with meals, as this dilutes digestive juices, weakening digestion, I therefore drink between meals. As plain water can get boring, I drink a lot of herbal teas and infusions and in summer I make spa waters.
My Skin Superfoods
Some of the richest sources of antioxidants that I try to include every day are; raw cocoa, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and pomegranate. Breakfast is porridge with seeds, nuts, dried fruit, cinnamon, cacao etc. in varying combinations. My mid-morning snack is a bowl of pomegranate seeds, which according to Ayurveda increases energy, but also happens to be a skin superfood. Either mid afternoon or in the evening, I have a turmeric and cacao latte with almond milk, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, a pinch of pink salt and a little black pepper, which helps the body to absorb the curcumin (active ingredient) in the turmeric. I might also have a few squares of raw chocolate after dinner or when I crave something sweet. Finally, I take collagen every day in my Beauty & Go drink to keep my skin healthy.
Nutritionists have aware of this for a while, but the connection between a healthy digestive system and skin health is now becoming widely accepted. In fact, the gut and the balance of bacteria living there, affect most aspects of our health, so keeping the gut healthy is actually part of my skincare routine! To do this, I take a daily probiotic supplement and include probiotic foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi plus pre-biotic foods to feed the good bacteria, like garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, wholegrains, chicory and Jerusalem artichokes.
Foods I Avoid (Most of the time!)
As sugar is one of the most ageing foods of all, I avoid it in my daily diet and save it for treats and special occasions. Sugar causes raised blood sugar levels and cross linking of collagen, making it more rigid and less supple. A high sugar diet has also been shown to increase oxidative stress and inflammation. Refined Carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white pasta, rice cakes and pastry have a similar affect, so I also avoid these and stick to wholegrain carbs. I also avoid meat, fried and processed foods, which promote inflammation in the body.
Where skincare is concerned, I go natural, sticking with organic, chemical-free products. I use a brand called Andalou Naturals for my day and night creams, I also use their 1000 Roses exfoliator which is extremely gentle and not at all abrasive. I also use UrbanVeda who make great Ayurvedic skincare. I try to have a facial every month or two that includes a deep clean with extractions. I also limit sun exposure, preferring gradual tanning lotions and a good bronzer.
Stress and Sleep
The final part of my beauty regime is to manage stress, keep active and get plenty of sleep. Stress and lack of sleep accelerate ageing and collagen breakdown, so prioritising this is important. For me, yoga is my ‘saviour’ and I practice daily for 20-40 minutes, depending on how much time I have. This has improved my sleep, keeps me strong and supple and able to manage any stress.