By Sneh Jaisingh
INDIA New England News Columnist
When I sat to write my column this month, I wanted to write about something that our young readers could benefit from. Also this month is our beauty pageant, Miss India New England 2015. Being the official Nutritionist of this pageant, writing about this topic felt most appropriate coz glitz and glamour is on my mind!
Teenage is where it all begins. Teenage, the age of newly discovered freedom and youthfulness. It often comes with its own set of challenges. Acne, dry skin, frizzy hair, brittle nails, to name a few. These can be sometimes very upsetting.
As a teen, I remember my new independence was very important to me. I wanted to make my own choices be it clothes, my hair –dos or even food. I liked to eat out often, Pizza and all its cousin fast foods, chocolates and brownies, soda and starbucks frappes all became my new friends and calling home asking mom to not wait for dinner and eat that “boring” rajma chawal became a trend.
“With great powers comes great responsibilities” said Uncle Ben. While I enjoyed the freedom, I did pay the price of not always making sensible choices, especially with food and soon it started showing on my health especially my skin, hair and ofcourse my waistline. I used different kind and brands of products available in the market that would help my skin and hair look healthier, but it was just working like a Band-Aid. I went on juice diets and “fasting” /”dieting” to lose weight, but my anorexia made my skin and hair look even worse. As you can guess, all this started affecting my self esteem, my moods and to certain extent even my grades.
We consulted some experts, dermatologist, estheticians, dietitians, to name a few and one common suggestion that I received from them was that, the real solution was good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. So here I was, on a mission to regain my self esteem and improve my skin and hair health and look beautiful and healthy.
Little did I know that it will open a whole new world of wellbeing for me, they say it all happens for a reason.
Missing out on just a few nutrients every day can have a dramatic impact on not only your health but also on your appearance. Split ends, dry frizzy hair, dull skin often are signs inadequate nutrient intake.
So from once a teen to all you new teens, I am sharing the secret of clear and glowing skin and shinny luscious hair. What follows is a list of foods to add on regular basis along with some healthy lifestyle suggestions. Are you ready to eat, drink and be the gorgeous you?
1. Eat a RAINBOW everyday – How easy is that? By eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetable, you are ensuring that you are benefiting from a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
2. Water – Our body is made of 70% water, hence it’s a very essential piece to this puzzle. Keeping our body well hydrated is essential for our skin and hair. How much water does one need/day?
Your body weight in kg. x 30 ml.
Eg: 40 kg x 30 = 1200 ml = 5 cups/glasses (1 cup =240 ml)
3. Sleep- Teenage and sleep usually don’t get along. Experts suggest that poor sleep can lead to increased stress hormones in the body that increase the severity of inflammatory skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis. So a good 6-8 hours of sleep is very vital. So make sure you get your beauty zzz’s. Weekends can sometimes be a good time to catch up on your sleep, if home work keeps you up till late during the weekdays
4. Exercise- Physical activity of any kind will make you look and feel younger. Aim for 15-30 minutes/day at least 4 times per week. If you are busy and can’t workout, I will make it easy for you. Try doing some deep breathing exercise for 5-7 minutes, atleast 3 times/day. It can’t get any easier than this. Give it a try!
Take a deep breath IN from your nostrils all the way down to your abdomen – HOLD for the count of 5 – Exhale OUT from your nostrils – HOLD for the count of 5….AND repeat.
Along with the above 4 basics, certain vitamins and minerals especially from natural whole foods can work wonders on your skin and hair. Here’s the list, Make sure you incorporate these into your diet.
1. Vitamin A: Beta carotene is an important antioxidant which is vital for skin health. Antioxidants track down and destroy free radicals in the body – harmful chemicals you pick up from the atmosphere and are produced naturally in the body that can cause damage to your cells.
EG- salmon, carrots, spinach and broccoli
2. Vitamin C: A very power antioxidant, combating damage caused by free radicals created by environmental pollutants and ultraviolet radiation exposure. It helps improve iron absorption in the blood, meaning more oxygen to the brain and cells. It also and strengthens blood vessels and gives skin its elasticity and strength. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, meaning our body doesn’t store it; hence a daily intake is highly beneficial.
EG- Oranges, grapefruit, papaya, berries, tomatoes etc.
3. Vitamin E– Another powerful antioxidant vital to heal and prevent scarring, eliminating wrinkles and removing acne scars. It also keeps the red blood cells healthy so more oxygen and nutrients can be carried to the skin’s surface. Even topical application of pure vitamin E oil is beneficial for treating eczema and dry hair especially split ends.
EG- Oil seeds like sunflower seeds, olive oil, avocado, nuts, etc
4. Biotin – Biotin is one of the B vitamins. It works with the other B vitamins to metabolize the food you eat, and this in turn nourishes your hair, nails and skin, as well as other areas. Getting enough biotin helps to prevent hair loss, dry or scaling skin and other symptoms associated with a deficiency of this vitamin.
EG- Egg yolk, liver, swiss chard, almonds, walnuts, etc.
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acid, meaning our body cannot manufacture it. It is vital for many cellular and body functions. It’s a no brainer how essential it could be for ones skin and hair too.
EG- cold water fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, etc.
6. Zinc: It’s our repair mineral, it aids our body to self-repair. So its vital for skin renewal and giving a fresher complexion.
EG- red meat, oysters and nuts like almonds, oilseeds like sunflower and pumpkin, wheat germ, etc.
Lastly let’s talk about the foods that you should consume moderately or say “NO Thanks!” to:
1. Processed /Fast foods.
2. Fried, salty snacks.
3. Spicy food.
4. High sugary food/drinks.
5. Caffeine. So long starbucks!