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Real beauty is a feeling, a vibration—something inexplicable. We all attempt to coax it out on our own, whether it be through a few false lashes or a 10-step skin-care regimen. But, there is an often overlooked ally in the pursuit of natural radiance.
Food translates to the structure and integrity of the cells in our body, making “you are what you eat,” the literal truth. Our nails and hair are made of protein, our blood oxygenated by chlorophyll, and our gut scrubbed clean by fiber. These nutrients rosy our cheeks. They feed our muscles. They provide the unmistakable juiciness of health. For real radiance, look to your plate before your vanity. Read on for the secrets to eating pretty, as told by facialists, dermatologists and nutrition experts.
Superfood Spotlight: Cauliflower
Surprisingly, cauliflower is one of the most water-rich plants on Earth. And hydration can separate a dull complexion from a glowing one. Proper cellular hydration means liveliness, a youthful complexion, buoyant cells, and a proper detoxification system. While we recommend staying hydrated throughout the day with water (2 liters is the bare minimum) every single day, eating your water simultaneously supplies it with all the elements needed to maintain (sustainable) growth. The water is trapped in the phytonutrients and plant fiber which helps your body receive the water slower and stay hydrated longer. Think of it as though your cells are drinking in the water themselves.
Find it in: Chocolate Love Muffin with Superfood Caramel
Superfood Spotlight: Hijiki Seaweed
Sea algae and sea vegetables are a special class of plants. Because they’re surrounded by seawater, they contain all the minerals and trace elements we require for optimum life. Skin therapist and esthetician Shelly Marshall explains it better. “The ocean is the cradle of life on earth,” says Marshall. “Our blood plasma is nearly identical to seawater in nutrient and mineral composition (98% identical: Seawater contains magnesium whereas humans have an iron molecule instead). When applied to the body (whether internally or externally), our cells know how to assimilate the molecules and use them properly.” A properly mineralized body is more nimble to repair cell damage, has a strong immune system, and is deeply hydrated—which translates to a supple, even skin tone. Beyond seaweed, you can infuse your water with minerals every single day with the Beauty and Detox Drops.
Find it in: Earth Broth & Smash Beet Toast
Superfood Spotlight: Daikon
Bitter foods, like the daikon radish, stimulate proper stomach acid. This allows our GI tract to better break down nutrients, absorb them into our cells and translate for energy without feeling that unpleasant bloated, “full” feeling. They also work as natural detoxifiers, clearing out pathogenic bacteria in the gut and working to maintain proper flora balance. This shift toward a more symbiotic microbiome means a change in the palate for less saccharine flavors (aka processed sugar cravings). Processed sugar damages your skin by creating AGEs (advanced glycation end products), breaking down collagen and proteins in the body—the keys to elasticity and moisture.
Find it in: Eat the Rainbow Wrap
Superfood Spotlight: Beet
Beets are a vibrant powerhouse root, chock-full of health benefits. Specifically, they carry the amino acid betaine, a nutrient that detoxifies, stimulates the liver, and helps us better absorb B12—an essential nutrient for the nervous system and immunity. Interestingly, betaine’s beauty secret is that it helps to create fluid balance in and outside of the cell; an imbalance in fluid causes the cells to die—and when a cell can no longer replicate, our bodies show signs of skin aging.
Find it in: Youth + Beauty Salad
Superfood Spotlight: Millet
Millet is a super-grain that acts as a blood sugar stabilizer and is incredibly mineral-rich: you’ll find excellent sources of phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. Zinc helps fight free radicals, regulates immunity, aids in cell turnover and controls inflammation in the dermis. Manganese alleviates PMS symptoms and inflammation, while phosphorus aids in eliminating toxins and boosting energy.
Find it in: Middle Eastern Bowl with Preserved Lemon Hummus
Superfood Spotlight: Kiwi
Kiwi, citrus, and other juicy fruits are rich in vitamin C which naturally brightens, tightens, and makes skin more luminous. It’s no wonder you see it popping up in so many face washes, lotions, and oils— it has the power to diminish fine lines and help metabolize alcohol in the body (lessening the hangover effect). Vitamin C is one of the strongest lines of defense against free radicals as well.
Find it in: Beauty Blend Salad
Superfood Spotlight: Chia Seeds
While hyperbole runs rampant in nutrition claims, chia seeds have earned the right to be called a superfood. They have ample amounts of fiber and healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. Eating foods rich in omega-3s is a great way to keep bacteria out and essential moisture in. “Consuming adequate omega-3 fatty acids reduces skin inflammation, which leads to improved fibroblast function and healthier collagen fibrils,” explains NYC dermatologist Bobby Buka. Those fibroblasts, or 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—lipids that cause acute inflammation and constrict blood vessels— in the skin, thereby lessening inflammation and keeping your complexion even and clear.
Find it in: Chia Pumpkin Bread and Cacao Creme
Superfood Spotlight: Herbs (Cilantro, Basil, Mint, Lemongrass)
Variety creates biodiversity in the ecosystem of your body—it multiplies the chance of survival of the good bacteria, and ensures you get all of the phytonutrients, colors, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal body function. Herbs are a critical way to get these cleansing, calming, inflammation-taming phytonutrients in the body. Daphne Oz “showers her dishes with herbs to up the nutrient-density and flavor.” Have you seen her skin? Enough said.
Find it in: Phuket Bowl, Pear Chana Masala w/ Coconut-Basil Quinoa + Mint Chutney
Superfood Spotlight: Purple Cabbage
Cabbage and other plants in the brassicas family are sulfur-rich. Sulfur, often associated with that rotten egg/ kale smell, is actually the key to unlocking your most vibrant body. Its other moniker is the Beauty Mineral because it helps keep your skin clear and supple and your hair and nails strong and healthy. Collagen production in your body depends on getting enough sulfur in your diet. Sulfur is a component of glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the human body and a potent detoxifier.
Find it in: Thai Burger with Rainbow Slaw and Root Fries
Superfood Spotlight: Rose
Inflammation wreaks havoc on many levels of the body, throwing it out of sync and spiking cortisol levels. Stress, whether physiological or emotional, induces aging —and food that tames inflammation is a critical way to combat that. Processed, dehydrating foods disrupt hormones, throw blood sugar out of balance, while anti-inflammatory healers like rose are the antidote. Rose tames redness, is anti-bacterial and high in antioxidants.
Find it in: Rose Petal Pancakes with Peach Butter-Cream
Superfood Spotlight: Flax
Flax is made up of lignans, a plant compound that has been shown to help with estrogen metabolism. A healthy gut with necessary amounts of high dietary fiber will bind to excess estrogen and help eliminate and excrete it from the body. Lignans balance hormones which keep acne at bay and reduce bloat and water retention. Hormone levels in check allow the body to hum at its most youthful, juicy state.
Find it in: Harissa Falafel with Cashew Tstsiki and Ruby Hummus
Superfood Spotlight: Shio Koji
The microbiome, or second brain, is innately connected to the dermis. Breakouts, rosacea and other skin irritations are often an immune response—of which the gut reigns. Creating a proper environment in the microbiome requires a plant-rich diet filled with fiber, phytonutrients, and a bacteria-supporting probiotic. Fermented foods act as natural probiotics, and shio koji is an umami-flavored ferment of short-grain rice and sea salt that serves as proper nourishment for the good bacteria in the gut. The microbiome dictates everything from your energy levels to mood, hormone balance to the way nutrients are metabolized, sleep quality to memory, and beyond.
Find it in: Cooling Cashew Vermicelli
Superfood Spotlight: Leafy Greens
The Sakara nutrition protocol calls for 4-6 cups of organic, high-quality greens each day. There is a specific beautifying intention behind offering an abundance of hydrating, nutrient-dense leaf vegetables. Scientific research demonstrates that the daily inclusion of greens in the diet can encourage the growth of good bacteria, heal inflammation, improve motility, crowd out parasites, eliminate yeast, get rid of belly fat, dissolve gallstones, balance your pH, quiet down your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), prevent diverticulosis, cut your risk of colon cancer in half, boost your energy, lose weight, banish your bloat, and really glow from the inside out.
Find it in: Every Sakara meal
By Hannah Shanken • March 11, 2021
Photographer: Lianna Tarantin