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Beauty from the Inside Out
By: Wai Lana
Real beauty is an inner quality that transcends your physical features and never fades, even with time. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should neglect your body, especially when keeping it in good form can be so simple and enjoyable. Eating a healthy vegetable-based diet is in itself a natural boost to your appearance and overall vitality. For instance, many of the nutrients available in fresh fruits and veggies help strengthen your skin and tissues, brighten your eyes, cleanse your body of toxins, and renew your energy. So eat wisely and you’ll experience the benefits of good nutrition from the inside out.
Bioflavonoids are powerful antioxidants abundant in dark leafy greens like spinach and kale as well as in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. They protect your body from free radicals, which can cause premature aging as well as many diseases. Bioflavonoids strengthen your capillaries (the blood vessels just below the skin’s surface), connective tissues, and gums. They also fortify the structure of your skin cells, thereby improving the appearance of your skin.
Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, are also antioxidants that work to preserve your eyesight and guard your skin against damage from UV rays. These vital nutrients help strengthen your bones, hair, teeth, and gums. They also maintain and repair your skin, helping to reduce acne and minimize wrinkles. Just like bioflavonoids, carotenoids are abundant in all colorful fruits and vegetables.
You may already use vitamin C to boost your immune system, but this powerful nutrient is also essential for healthy skin. This is because of its integral role in the production of collagen, which maintains skin elasticity, as well as in the absorption of iron, which lends pigmentation to the lips and cheeks. On top of aiding tissue growth and maintenance, vitamin C increases the effectiveness of vitamin A (which comes from carotenoids) and vitamin E. Vitamin E is another nutrient that helps preserve the integrity of your skin by helping heal scars and repair sun damage.
Other beauty nutrients include sulfur, silica, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Also called the beauty mineral, sulfur is plentiful in onions and garlic as well as in cabbage family vegetables. It is the main component of collagen and helps mend damaged skin to give it a softer, smoother texture. Sulfur also strengthens your hair and nails and aids in detoxification. Found in leafy greens, roots, and whole grains, silica is also necessary for collagen production, helping maintain your skin’s radiance and elasticity. Silica strengthens your hair and helps prevent hair loss. Omega-3’s detoxify, strengthen, and moisturize your skin cells. To increase your intake, simply add flax, hemp, or pumpkin seeds or oils to your diet.
Naturally rich in these health-giving nutrients, a fresh, varied vegetarian diet helps keep your digestion and elimination moving along, making your body less prone to constipation and the resulting toxicity—which can cause breakouts and dark circles under the eyes. You may also wish to avoid strong everyday diuretics like coffee and other caffeinated drinks, which can dehydrate your body, leaving your skin dry and lackluster.
In the end, however, we must remember that aging is an unavoidable natural process. Though many people try to preserve their beauty with everything from supplements to surgery, nothing can maintain external beauty if your beauty isn’t coming from within. Living a yoga lifestyle and practicing yoga asanas and meditation enables you to feel peaceful and happy inside. This deep sense of well-being shines through your eyes, your expressions, and your attitude toward others. It is what makes you truly beautiful.
RECIPE (from Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices, p. 110)
Sometimes called the “beauty fruit,” apricots are rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, and essential oil—all helpful nutrients for keeping a clear, youthful complexion.
4 apricots (or 8 dried apricots, soaked)
1/3 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
Stir in a teaspoon of bee pollen to enhance the potency.
Remove the apricot pits and peel the oranges, then cut or tear them into pieces small enough to fit through the juicer hopper. Rotate the ingredients through your juicer, ending with apricot. Serve and enjoy!
Concentrated with antioxidants like beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins C and E, this juice helps keep your skin and tissues elastic and healthy. Blackberries and apricots especially promote a vibrant complexion. More than just a beauty boost, however, these delicious fruits also help prevent cancer, heart disease, and anemia.
If fresh apricots aren’t in season, don’t worry. Studies have shown that their dried counterparts are even more concentrated with nutrients, especially lycopene. You can also use a couple of peaches or nectarines instead.
Wai Lana hosts the long-running TV series Wai Lana Yoga, which airs nationally on PBS. She is the author of Wai Lana’s Favorite Juices and the upcoming Wai Lana’s Favorite Soups. For more information, please visit wailana.com.