The Most Beautifying Foods on Earth
When you hear the words “inner beauty,” maybe you think of traits like character, gratitude and generosity…and those traits certainly are beautiful. But this week, we’re taking the concept of inner beauty quite literally by celebrating all the ways that the food we put into our bodies helps us radiate gorgeous light outwards into the world. From skin-nourishing healthy fats to every brilliant color of the antioxidant rainbow, plant foods are, without question, the most important part of any daily beauty ritual…and the ticket to the coveted Sakara glow.
Up your beauty game by starting at the molecular level and nourishing your hair, skin and nails with each bite you take. Ready?
1) GOOD FATS
Best for: Soft, clear skin
Want to keep bacteria out and essential moisture in? (Answer: Yes, if you want blemish-free, beautiful skin!). Then you better take good care of your protective cell membrane…and eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to do just that. “Consuming adequate omega-3 fatty acids reduces skin inflammation, which leads to improved fibroblast function and healthier collagen fibrils,” explains NYC dermatologist extraordinaire (and Sakara’s go-to skin expert) Dr. Bobby Buka. Those fibroblasts, a.k.a. cells found in connective tissue, are responsible for making collagen, which is the primary structural protein in said connective tissues and what lends elasticity to your skin and strength to your locks. Good fats also help maintain a healthy pH balance and reduce levels of prostaglandins in the skin, thereby lessening inflammation and keeping your complexion even and clear. Additionally, the healthy fat in foods like avocado help increase your body’s absorption of other nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants, so you get more bang for your buck with every beautifying bite you take. And anyone who’s experienced a that-time-of-the-month breakout knows how out-of-whack hormones can mess with your complexion, right? Good news—Dr. Bobby (and Alisa Vitti) confirms that healthy fats keep those very hormones in check.
Eat up: Coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seed
Sakara-style: Botanical Breakfast Bar, Sakara Cobb Salad
Best for: Anti-aging
Quick science lesson: Free radicals are groups of unstable, reactive atoms, and they’re your body’s natural response to the outside world (think environmental toxins like air pollution and sunlight) and your internal state (exercise, stress, inflammation or regular old metabolism). Free radicals are unstable because they are missing electrons; on the hunt to become complete, they steal electrons from elsewhere in your body and can damage your DNA and cell membranes in the process. This causes everything from premature skin aging to cancer. Enter antioxidants: These powerful cell-defenders neutralize free radicals before they can wreak havoc on your skin. Antioxidants protect you by giving those unstable free radicals what they need (without being damaged themselves). Pretty amazing! According to Dr. Bobby, Vitamins A, C and E are major antioxidant powerhouses, as are carotenoids, resveratrol (hello red wine) and anthocyanins. Fun fact: You know how we’re always telling you to eat the rainbow? That’s because fruits and veggies get their vibrant colors from the antioxidants and phytochemicals they contain. Eating a wide variety of colorful foods won’t just make your plate look beautiful—it will also ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of beautifying nutrients in your daily diet.
Eat up: A diverse, colorful diet of whole, organic fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains
Sakara-style: Gotu Kola Carrot Risotto, Sexiest Salad in NYC, Eat-the-Rainbow Wrap
3) HYDRATING FRESH PRODUCE
Best for: Smooth skin + a healthy glow
You have trillions of cells in your body, and each one is composed of water—nourish each one deeply and fully by eating hydrating fresh produce! “Staying hydrated helps plump up the skin, making it look more youthful and smooth, says Dr. Bobby. Not only that, but the collagen-supporting structures in the skin require water to work properly and keep your complexion looking bright and youthful. Plus, sufficiently hydrated skin is less likely to crack and let blemish-causing bacteria find its way in. Proper hydration also keeps the blood flowing and your body’s built-in detoxification systems running smoothly, so you’re toxin-free and positively glowing. Finally, there’s some evidence water intake may influence the skin’s natural oil production, so keep everything in beautiful balance by drinking (and eating!) plenty of H2O.
Eat up: Cucumber, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, radishes, melon
Sakara-style: Youth + Beauty Salad, Cannellini + Cucumber Salad, Pickled Watermelon Bliss Bowl w/ Macadamia Feta, Healing Honeydew Gazpacho
Best for: A taut, line-free complexion
Eating food that spikes your blood sugar (think processed grains and sugar) doesn’t just put you at risk of insulin resistance—it’s also associated with high cortisol levels. Cortisol, a.k.a. the stress hormone, brings a whole host of ill effects, including several that pertain to beauty and skincare. How? “High cortisol can cause collagen breakdown, which leads to sagging skin,” says Dr. Bobby. It also slows down the wound healing process and causes chronic inflammation. Keep your blood sugar stable, your cortisol under control and inflammation at bay by eating plenty of healthy fiber, and you’ll also keep your skin taut and youthful. Bonus: fiber also helps regulate digestion and aid the elimination of toxins, so you can be light, bright and beautiful. And last but not least, remember that your existing gut bacteria thrive on fiber—specifically, indigestible plant fiber called prebiotics. More on that in three…two…one…
Eat up: Apples, beets, chicory, black beans, chickpeas, oats
Sakara-style: Detoxifying Chicory Yogurt Bowl w/ Coconut-Cacao Crunch, Aphrodite’s Morning, The Red Beet Burger
5) FERMENTED FOODS
Best for: Thick, shiny hair + fighting acne
Back to the microbiome, as promised! “When it comes to your appearance, your GI tract may actually play a bigger role than your genes, because without a healthy gut, it’s really hard to have glowing skin or thick, shiny hair,” says Dr. Robynne Chutkin, MD, founder of the Digestive Center for Women in Chevy Chase, MD, author of Gutbliss and seasoned authority on all things microbiome-related. “Your digestive tract is like the soil, and your hair and skin are like the plants: if the soil isn’t healthy, the plants wont bloom properly,” she goes on. “Nourish your inner soil with tons of plants and you’ll glow from the inside out.” Nourish said inner soil with fermented foods, which contain both probiotics and prebiotics to nourish the good bacteria in your body. You see, what you eat, your gut microbes eat. And when you don’t feed them what they need—think fiber, probiotics and greens—they eat you. A little creepy? Maybe. But it’s true. When your gut flora turns on you, it can cause a condition called leaky gut, in which food particles and bad bacteria to sneak into your bloodstream, leading to inflammation. And inflammation shows up in your skin in the form of acne, rosacea and eczema. Fermented foods are one of the best remedies for your microbiome and your heavenly glow.
Eat up: Kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, kombucha
Sakara-style: Earth Broth w/ Farm Fresh Fixings + Beet Smash Toast, Avo-Cacao Probiotic Pudding
Best for: Long, shiny hair + strong nails
We’ve sung the praises of sulfur (and MSM, which is sulfur in its distilled form) many times before…it’s even one of the fundamental nutritional pillars of the Sakara Life program. And with good reason—this organic compound is essential for numerous bodily processes, including those that flood your cells with nutrients and keep your skin, hair and nails beautiful. More specifically, sulfur is required for the production and regeneration of connective tissue, and healthy connective tissue equals a plump, healthy complexion. Also, your body can’t make keratin (which makes hair glossy and nails strong) or collagen (which keeps your skin supple and taut) without sulfur.
Eat up: Brussels sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower
Sakara-style: Balancing Macro Plate w/ Creamy Avocado Dressing, Creamy Kale Caesar