We all know that healthy eating is essential to promote general well-being as well as for promoting younger healthier skin. However, with so much confusing information and a busy life-style, it is easy for this to become a challenge. We’ve distilled the key points out there and have put together a few key tips that can help you regularly eat a nutritious and balanced diet with a focus on foods that can boost skin health and reduce premature ageing.
How many fruit and vegetables do I need per day?
For over the past 25+ years, the recommendation has been 5 pieces of fresh fruit and vegetable per day. However, recently, a study by researchers at University College London found that eating 7 pieces of fruit and vegetable per day was associated with an overall 33% reduced risk of death from any cause. Either way, most people struggle to get 5-a day and we think that this is likely due to being busy, not being sure of how much constitutes a portion and how to easily fit in extra fruit and veg into your diet without spending hours in the kitchen. We think this piece at TheKitchn beautifully illustrates how easy it is to get the portions you need for healthy eating.
Super foods – fab or fad?
Probably one of the most controversial and sometimes over used terms is super foods. These are food items which are supposed to be nutrient rich and thus provide a boost to the diet. A number of studies have been performed aimed at dispelling the myths and arming you with accurate information about which foods truly are super and thus are worthy of the extra effort and often financial costs of including them in your diet. Blueberries, broccoli and beetroot have all been proven to improve general health and are sources of high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. In addition, blueberries, tomatoes and kiwi fruit are all sources of vitamins and antioxidants which help protect skin and reduce signs of ageing.
The health benefits of hyaluronic acid were widely reported in the press in the first few years of the millennium as the result of reporters visiting the Japanese village of Yuzurihara. The local doctor in the Yuzurihara had suggested that the reason for the youthful appearance of the elderly villagers in Yuzurihara was the abundance of soya, sticky potato and tofu in their diet, each of which promote the production of hyaluronic acid in the body. Hyaluronic acid is a protein that is naturally produced in the body and gives the skin firmness by acting as a space filler. This is the same protein used in hyaluronic acid dermal fillers. Injectable hyaluronic acid dermal fillers fill up space in the areas of the skin that they are injected into resulting in firmer and plumper skin. Root vegetables, homemade broths made from animal tissue and leafy greens are other great sources of hyaluronic acid for healthy eating.
Foods that cause skin damage – fact or fiction?
This is the really good news. There have not been any proven links between any specific foods and acne or other problems with complexion! However, your skin is a reflection of your general health. By simply reducing your intake of sugar and eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients will obviously improve the appearance of your skin as well as general health. Another bit of good news is that dark chocolate may actually have a protective effect on the skin and does not cause acne as is often rumoured.
It’s all well and good to know what foods you need to avoid or increase in your diet but how do you incorporate healthy eating into a busy routine? We have put together a few ideas for healthy eating that incorporate a lot of fruit and veg with minimal preparation and cooking time so that you can make them on the spot or prepare the night before:
7 easy ways you can increase your fruit and vegetable intake
Juicing and Smoothies: luckily home juicers are now widely available at a low cost and incredibly simple to use. Its easy to get at least 3 of your fruit/veg a day from a delicious juice and alter recipes according to what Vitamins or antioxidant you want. The fun of juicing is that you can find plenty of free recipes online as well as get creative and design your own. We’ve been a huge fan of green apple, pear and beetroot for post work out treat and oranges, ginger, turmeric and carrot for a little detox after a night of over indulgence! Juices can be prepared in a batch the night before or in the morning and you can take some with you to work or to the gym. If you prefer a little more of an indulgent drink or don’t have a juicer, then smoothies are also an easy way to up your fruit intake. You don’t really need a special smoothie maker (a blender will do). Smoothies are also a great way to utilise frozen fruit like berries and you can get creative by adding in dried fruit, seeds and nuts. We love making our breakfast smoothie, which has a mixture of fruits known to improve skin health and keeps you full for the morning. Just blend low fat yoghurt, frozen blueberries, bananas, a handful of granola and a dash of honey.
Seriously good Cereal: if you’re after an easy and quick way to incorporate fruits, nuts and seeds into your daily diet, then we suggest starting with breakfast. Most cereals are high in sugar and fat. One way to take charge of the most important meal of the day is by making your own. Buy a simple base like oat flakes, cornflakes or bran flakes (whatever you fancy really) and have stored in resealable containers nuts, seeds and dried fruit. In the morning pour as much of the cereal grain as you want in a bowl and add the nuts, fruit and seeds according to what you fancy. Top with some low fat yoghurt or milk and you have a healthy and tailor made breakfast. In the winter months, we’re fond of plain porridge oats cooked in low fat milk and then jazzed up with coconut pieces, mixed seeds and fresh fruit.
Soups: a great way to up your vegetable intake and also cook a low fat and quick meal is making soup. Buy (or make if you have time) good stock and keep it handy for your soup needs. Then simply cook the vegetables and any extras (chicken, pulses, beans etc..) that you fancy in your pot and blend all of it at the end for a delicious and easy meal. As with juices and smoothies, you can make a batch and use up the next day. There are plenty of great websites for soup recipes and you can easily make your own. We love courgette, pepper, spinach, chorizo and orzo cooked in a vegetable stock. This dish is a great winter warmer and doesn’t need to be blended. You can even chuck a bit of precooked chicken pieces in there if you have some
Salads: great as a low fat and nutritious lunch, salads are easy and quick to make. You can buy leaves like rocket or salad leaf packs as a base and chuck in some spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and celery for a simple fast lunch. Dress with olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of lemon. Peppers are also great raw or roasted in a salad whilst olives, pears, green apples, walnuts, pine nuts and seeds are fantastic ways to add variety. Left over roasted beetroot (or you can buy this precooked) and roasted courgettes as well as aubergines also make a great addition to a salad. You can also add a little cheese, smoked fish or cold chicken left overs for protein to get a balanced meal.
Pasta sauces: it’s beyond us why anyone would buy pasta sauces when you can easily and quickly make your own. The beauty of this is it means you can cram them full of delicious vegetables and they keep well for a few days so can be made in batches. All you need is a base sauce made of garlic and onions cooked in tinned or fresh tomatoes and seasoned with herbs like basil and oregano. Whilst slowly simmering the tomato base, you can add veggies like aubergines, artichoke, peppers, mushrooms and courgettes. Experiment with adding different vegetables and combinations as well as roasting the vegetables before adding to the sauce. Again, you can add olives, chillies, cheese or chorizo if you wish to the sauce depending on your mood.
Grains and pulses: couscous, bulghar wheat, lentils and quinoa are great substitutes for rice and pasta as they permit slow release of energy and thus maintain your blood sugar at a constant level which reduces spikes in Insulin production that maybe associated with skin damage, acne and premature ageing. These grains can be added to a salad, as a side with roast vegetables or to make a delicious hearty vegetable soup.
Wrap it up with tortillas and pitta pockets: if salad for lunch every day seems a little monotonous, wholemeal tortilla wraps and flat breads such as pitta make a healthy and nutritious sandwich alternative. Try wrapping low fat yoghurt, lettuce, tomato, avocado and cold slices of precooked chicken or prawn in a wrap with a dash of paprika. Pitta pockets are great stuffed with a little houmous, harissa, salad leaves, carrots, cucumber and tomato. Alternatively, stuff with roasted aubergines, courgettes and peppers with a little low fat yoghurt.
We hope you found our 7 tips to upping your fruit and vegetable intake useful and easy to incorporate healthy eating into a busy lifestyle. With the known skin and health benefits that fruit and vegetables provide, this is probably one of the areas where you will see the biggest improvements by making relatively modest modifications to your diet. All of these suggestions can be mixed, matched and modified to add or leave out ingredients according to what your skin needs. So, good luck, have fun with healthy eating, don’t forget to keep checking out our blog for updates. Also please share with us your healthy recipes on twitter and Instagram!