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Super foods for gorgeous skin

January 07, 2014 20:15 IST

Super foods for gorgeous skin

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Shameem Akthar

Did you know that barley fights inflammation, the terrible scourge that causes redness, puffiness and sagging skin and that olive oil can make your skin look younger? 

They had it wrong when they said beauty is only skin deep.

Apparently, it is a lot deeper because a lot of what you look like -- apart from the structure of your face -- could come from the food you eat.

For example, the texture of your skin, its brightness and youthfulness is food-dependent.

The earlier concept of using commercial beauty products to take care of your skin has disappeared. Today, the natural look is all the rage. People take pride in the quality of their skin and prefer not to hide it under too much make-up.

While beauty regimens that cater to the skin from the outside continue, the focus has increased on beauty foods that will help you look like a million dollars.

Gone are the days when nutritionists were just consulted for weight loss: these days they are consulted for anything from foods that trigger acne, to those which can plump up the skin for a more youthful look or keep away dark circles from under your eyes.

Did you know, for example, that dark chocolate can make your skin look bright and salmon can fight the puffy look you get when you are sleep deprived? Fennel tea can prevent your stomach from bloating up and the generous use of olive oil can make your skin look younger.

Here are some unusual super skin foods, as listed by Shameem Akthar, a yogacharya who has trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.

However, the list is only indicative: you must consult your doctor and/or a dietician for a final go-ahead before you add these foods to your diet.

REMEMBER, super foods are not a fad, they must only be eaten in moderation.

You must introduce any new food item to your diet in a phased manner so that your body can get used to the food. At the same time, you can determine if the food is suitable for your health and whether its consumption is causing any unpleasant side effects.




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Barley

Barley fights inflammation, the terrible scourge that causes redness, puffiness and sagging skin.

Today, many alternative medicine brands sell over-the-counter barley juice in the form of syrups (lime-and-barley is a common option). However, these might contain preservatives or a high quality of sugar/ sweetener.

Instead, you could check online for traditional recipes that substitute barley with rice – from pulav to soups, the list is ending.

It is believed that barley helps control blood sugar yo-yos.

It also is rich in fibre, so it aids weight loss.

Barley is an ideal food during menopause as it contains a type of fat that helps deal with the hormonal dips that are part of the aging process.

It is also rich in the antioxidant, selenium, which is a super nutrient when it comes to skin health.


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons/Ali Riza from Gaziantep, Turkey
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Maple syrup

There are many varieties (mostly imported) available in the market.

Opt for a syrup that is pure, 100 percent maple – which has anti-sagging properties – instead of a something that is just a sugared concoction.

Maple syrup makes it to our top five because it contains a high amount of potassium and less sodium.

It also contains trace nutrients and enough iron to encourage a better transport system to the skin (to help it repair, heal and remain nourished).

It is a good source of thiamine, the happy vitamin B which is crucial for skin health.

But it is also calorie-dense, so use maple syrup moderately as topping for your pancake or as a substitute sweetener.


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons/Miguel Andrade
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Olives

The olive is the world’s best-kept secret for a youthful, clear and healthy skin. This is because it is rich in vitamin E, which nourishes the skin, and in iron, which helps the blood transport repairing agents to the skin faster.

Our skin is damaged all the time due to pollution, bad eating habits, stress, lack of sleep, use of too much make-up, sun exposure or being indoors/in air-conditioned spaces. This is what makes our skin dull, sag, puff, turn red or lacklustre and age faster.  

Even though olive oil is calorie-dense, the good fats (monounsaturated) help repair damage to the skin faster. They also ensure that the bad fats are burned more effectively.

The vitamin E in olive oil is believed to help maintain skin hydration.

It has copper, which fights damage to the skin, both externally (including damage caused by the sun) and internally (from free radical rampage). 

Olives are a power-packed food that can be used in pickles, as food toppings, salad ad-ons, in dips, etc.


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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Yoghurt

The probiotic variety has been used both externally and internally as a beauty food for centuries.

Recently, its allure as a super skin food has returned, leading a sudden abundance in yoghurt-based dessert bars.

As smoothies, as substitute ice-creams or simply frozen after being flavoured naturally by fruits (and, these days, even herbs and vegetables), yoghurt has finally reclaimed its glory – not just as a sorry accessory to the main dish, but as a full course in itself.

It encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which helps digest other foods. It is rich in riboflavin, which helps prevent sagging and early aging of the skin. It also plumps up collagen support.


Photographs: Schwäbin (Wikimedia)/Creative Commons CC-by-sa-3.0 de
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Cous cous

It is the latest entrant in the market, and still not common in most middle class homes.

Cous cous is now available in many general stores and is served in certain restaurants as well.

Some traditional recipes reworked around cous cous include pulav and upma.

Cous cous is rich in antioxidants and skin-brighteners like manganese, which also helps deal with skin problems caused by hormonal imbalances.

It is rich in selenium and vitamin E which are magic to the skin.

Manganese and selenium also keep you happy – which may explain why happy people usually have great skin!


Photographs: Wikimedia Commons
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