Not Just Skin Deep
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? I don’t think so. Beauty is in everyone and feeling beautiful is less to do with how you look and more to do with how you feel, physically and mentally.
WORDS ROSEMARY FERGUSON
We’re bombarded with images of “gorgeous” women all the time, and they become the yardstick of what’s considered beautiful. This makes women who don’t fit the profile feel less than. So, I encourage women to look inwards. Work on the inside, to not only look fab but to feel it too, to feel positive and vital and full of energy. I defy any woman or man to feel less than when they’re feeling good, on top of life and full of health. I come from a fashion background and I modelled for many years. I still do, from time to time, so I know that no matter how wonderful people tell you you look, if you aren’t feeling good in yourself, these comments can’t do it for you. Then there are the times when you’re carrying a bit of extra weight or you’ve had the most fantastic night out at the expense of a good night’s sleep, yet people comment on how glowing you look — beauty is definitely not skin deep, it radiates from all of us when we feel beautiful. So, I want to help you understand how wonderful our bodies are and how getting great skin is easier if you take a holistic approach. My clients come to see me for all sorts of reasons. They have a wide variety of health concerns, which usually involve weight issues, skin problems and a lack of energy. The way I work is to treat the cause; I try to get to the bottom of the problem and to get a person’s overall health in shape. In my experience, helping the whole body means that you feel more vital and energised, and the knock-on effect of that is a healthier outlook and a healthier-looking you.
You may think that treating the skin topically is the best remedy, but I actually find that the most common causes of skin problems are a liver that isn’t coping, an inflammatory state in the body, hormone imbalance, or a lack of fibre or hydration from within. It makes complete sense to me that our “cleaning” organ, the liver, which is in charge of removing all the toxins we put into our bodies (as well as those that our body creates and those that come from our environment) should be working optimally in order to help us glow. You need to be thinking about supporting the detox process in the liver and in order to do this, you need to give it certain nutrients. Eat your greens! Not only do they provide chlorophyll, which is great for cleansing the blood, but they also contain B vitamins and magnesium, which are beneficial to the nervous system and help relieve stress. Eat lots of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables: these all deliver antioxidants to your lovely liver and help mop up the toxins, leaving the way clear to a brighter outlook. The vitamin C content in the brightly coloured fruit and vegetables is essential for producing collagen, and orange colours are full of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which is often used in creams and is known as retinol. Beetroot, artichoke, and bitter herbs such as rocket, chicory and watercress help the liver to get going, while onion, garlic, leek, cabbage and asparagus are full of sulphur, which also aids the detox process. A happy liver will give you clearer skin and slow down the ageing process, but, more importantly, it will keep toxins down and keep your energy levels up. Many people who feel sluggish have sluggish livers.
Helping the whole body means that you feel more energised, and the knock-on effect of that is a healthier-looking you.
Tackling inflammation is also crucial when it comes to skin and health. When I say inflammation, I’m talking
about any areas of the body that are angry-looking, angry-feeling or swollen. Acne, for instance, is a strong sign of inflammation, as is joint pain. And an inflamed gut can cause inflammation all over the body. If you think this is something that may be affecting you, you should consider calming the body down and soothing it from the inside out, healing the gut so you can absorb more nutrition from your food and also get rid of waste more efficiently. Turmeric, pineapple, papaya and ginger all fight inflammation, as do oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. These contain good fats that actually reduce inflammation, and avocados and nuts also contain good amounts of vitamin E. Inflammation causes a lot of free radicals (another term for toxins), so by reducing it we are, again, reducing the toxins in our bodies and helping our internal environment become cleaner and stronger.
Most of us know that hydration is really important and works with many other systems to flush out impurities. Combined with fibre, it aids the transit of waste through the body. Talk to any beauty editor or dermatologist and they will tell you that your skin will not look plump and moist if you aren’t hydrated from within. There’s only so much that a moisturiser can do to fill the cracks, so make sure you’re drinking lots of water or herbal teas. It will improve your skin and overall health. Try adding chia seeds to water and then topping up the water as the chia absorbs it. That way you’re taking in more water than you normally would in the same glass (chia can hold ten times its weight in water), and you’re also getting some fibre. Win win! To supplement or not to supplement? Well, it depends if you’re feeling very depleted. I’m a big fan of getting your nutrients from food, but if you need a boost, these are the supplements I’d consider for skin and glow: vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, fish oil such as Eskimo 3. Alpha lipoic acid and glutathione are great antioxidant supplements and can be really helpful if you’re trying to clean up your diet. I’d also look into taking a course of probiotics to help replenish good bacteria and hopefully reduce any baddies that are in your system. I hope you’re beginning to see how sophisticated our bodies are and that good skin is actually a sign that this very complex system is working efficiently. Oh, and I should add that a night out is actually good for us, too. Having fun releases serotonin, which makes us happy, and if you’re not a night owl then anything that makes you smile will have the same effect. Just remember: beauty from within.
Good skin is actually a sign that this very complex system is working efficiently.
Is there a philosophy that guides your approach to nutrition?
We’re all so different, our lives are all unique and we’re all under different stressors. Some people work ridiculous hours or travel all the time; some are stressed out with kids; some go out and drink and smoke too much. My philosophy is about being realistic about the support your body needs. Whatever your life looks like, you can help your body by putting in the right nutrients for you.
What would be a starting point for someone trying to improve their well-being and self-discipline?
Start small. Make a juice, go out for a five-minute run, change one coffee for a herbal tea, order a salad instead of chips, sparkling water instead of a coke, brown rice instead of white, brown bread instead of white, wholegrain anything instead of refined. It may be a small start, but the clue is in the phrase: it is a start!
And what common myth would you advise us not to take too seriously?
I have two that really grate on me. Firstly, fat-free anything: fat free it may be, but the amount of rubbish that gets put into the fat-free variety to make it taste similar to the full-fat version is more detrimental to our bodies than good old fat, which is something our bodies can deal with — unlike the chemicals that are in the fat-free option! Secondly, fruit is not a sugar enemy! So many of my clients tell me they’re avoiding fruit because of the sugar content. Fruit has much more going for it than just sugar; it’s full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and it’s a wonderful source of plant nutrition. Yes, fruit has a high sugar content compared to vegetables, but compared to a bar of chocolate there’s no competition. So, go forth and eat fruit.