Have you ever had a friend who skin just glows? Chances are she’ll tell you she feels great too. Look a little further, and you’ll probably learn that she has a healthy diet with loads of fruits and vegetables along with unsaturated fats and clean protein sources. It’s true that beauty comes from within, and we look our best when we’re in good health. It’s critical that we get the right nutrients for our health and appearance, so today we’ve listed a few of the important nutrients for your diet.
At No Bull Beauty, we recommend a vegan diet to be your healthiest self. Animal products may damage your health and the meat industry commonly damages the environment. As animal lovers, we’re also appalled at the untold misery that food animals must endure. If you are new to this thinking, visit a meat packing plant, or go online and search the internet. You’ll see what we mean.
One of the constant questions vegetarians and vegans hear is how do you get enough protein? It’s easy really, providing you have the right resources. We recommend hemp seed powder and tofu for starters. The Vegetarian Resource Group is a great source for budding vegetarians and vegans. Check out their website for recommendations on proteins and the vegan lifestyle.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to our immune system and controlling inflammation. They are Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), meaning that your body can’t produce them. It’s a commonly held belief that fish oil is the best source for Omega-3, but because it’s unstable, you may find that it frequently goes rancid, not to mention the unpleasant fishy burp it leaves behind. Furthermore, the fish used for fish oil capsules may be contaminated by heavy metals or other ocean pollutants, meaning that you get not only a concentration of the fish’s oils, but also of their contaminants. Try chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts to get your Omega-3 fix without a fishy burp.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The Omega-6 fatty acids are the often-overlooked cousins of Omega-3’s. These EFAs boost cell growth and play an important role in our immune response, but because they can sometimes work in opposition to Omega-3’s it’s essential that these two EFAs be kept in balance. Some Omega-6’s boost inflammation (important to our immune response), but too much isn’t healthful. Others, like gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) reduce inflammation making it an anti-aging hero which is also great for sensitive skin. You probably get enough Omega-6 EFAs if you eat soybeans and other plant oils. For greater GLA consumption, try evening primrose, borage oil and black currant oil. By the way, GLA helps women combat the effects of menopause too!
You already know that chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants, and that plants use it to make food. You may not know that, although the research isn’t complete, there is some evidence that chlorophyll helps oxygenate our blood and aid in disease prevention. An added bonus – your breath will smell better when you eat foods high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll helps our body detoxify which is why you find kelp, kale and broccoli on most detox diets.
The B vitamin Biotin, in particular is essential for healthy skin, hair, nails and overall health. Biotin is readily available via plant sources and you are likely consuming enough daily, however you can always supplement if you desire stronger nails, hair and radiant skin. However, you cannot easily obtain the vitamin B12 on a plant-based diet, and this vitamin is essential as it is necessary for cell division and blood formation. Vegan sources of B12 include fortified soy milk, fortified cereals (not ideal), nutritional yeast, fortified energy bars and supplements.
Along with the question of protein, vegans are often questioned about their intake of iron, and it’s true we, like meat eaters need sufficient iron intake. Iron is essential because it contributes to blood cell production, and iron deficiency is a problem in some parts of the world. In addition, an iron deficiency can contribute to hair loss! To make sure you get enough iron on a vegan diet, we encourage you to up your consumption of spirulina, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, blackstrap molasses and quinoa. An added bonus if you eat spirulina – this superfood is an anti-inflammatory, immunity booster and free-radical ninja. Last word on iron. We urge you to look at dietary guidelines for iron intake, as they vary depending on your age and gender.
Carotenoids including lycopene (found in tomato skins, red cabbage and carrots), lutein and beta carotene are also powerful antioxidants which have been shown to have photo-protective effects against UV sun damage. The body will convert beta-carotene into vitamin A if it needs it. If it doesn’t, then it acts as a powerful antioxidant roaming around free radical scavenging to prevent and protect against accelerated aging. Since this is important in the fight against aging, it is essential to obtain carotenes both internally and externally. Great food sources of beta carotene include carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, microalgae, carrots, kelp, squash, collard greens, kale and beets.
Never be without your C! This powerful antioxidant zaps those pesky free radicals to prevent cellular damage and aging. The immunity boosting benefits promote a healthier you to ward off harmful environmental agents, bacteria and more. Vitamin C will nurture your body both inside and out. Super sources of C include lemons, pomegranates, acai berries, goji berries, sea buckthorn berries, amalaki/Indian gooseberry, red peppers, spinach and more! Many bright colored citrus fruits and leafy greens are also abundant in C. Simply add organic lemon to warm water every am for a daily does, or opt for fresh fruits, berries and/or teas containing this necessary vitamin.
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is the building block of collagen and elastin. It is a potent anti-aging nutrient that provides are skin and body with the building blocks needed to re-build strong and healthy collagen and elastin. It’s said to decrease the appearance of wrinkles, spider veins and those brown spots many people cover with makeup. This is why we like to call MSM “nature’s beauty fluid.” Up your intake of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, peppers, cabbage, etc.), sunflower seeds, soybeans, garlic. You’ll see the results, and so will others.
Wow! We’ve covered a lot about nutrition today. It can sometimes feel overwhelming because nutrition is a complicated subject. The bottom line is that our diet constitutes the building blocks of our physical selves, and getting the right nutrition through a balanced diet is important to our health and appearance. Become an informed consumer! Continue to read this and other blogs dedicated to your health and well-being, or also check out our book.