Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a major life changing overhaul - unless you’re on a first name basis with your local McDonalds cashier. A few small changes can make a big difference. I love my food and calorie counting isn’t a strong point. Everything in moderation with particular attention to a few key foods that pack a punch nutritionally can make a big difference to skin, hair and nails. Personally I try curtail refined carbs, particularly later in the evening with dinner. That said, Saturdays post-run snack can turn into a blueberry muffin free-for-all!
My breakfast of choice has been porridge and for the past couple of years this has included a spoonful of flaxseeds. These tiny seeds are absolute nutritional dynamite, boasting B-group vitamins they are also loaded with the natural anti-inflammatory properties of Omega 3, high in soluble and non-soluble fiber so good news for lowering cholesterol. Not to get too far into the science bit, but flaxseeds also contain phytochemicals which are great for balancing female hormones. To maximise the nutritive density of these gems, they should be ground first before tossing onto porridge, soups, salads, stir-fries etc. A tiny but brilliant addition to your diet.
There is no simpler way to go green than spinach. Not only is this stuff great with pretty much any meal, but by throwing a handful of spinach on your dinner, you’re upping iron levels (perfect for those who don’t do red meat) magnesium and Vitamin K. Spinach falls into the nutritional powerhouse category alongside beets and quinoa. Dark green leafy vegetables are the thing to eat to show skin and hair some love as they’re bursting with anti-oxidants and cancer fighting properties. A handful of spinach contains a mere 27 calories which mostly come from protein. It’s also one of the best sources of potassium beating bananas on a gram by gram comparison. Even on the rare occasion we ring in a pizza, I empty half a bag of spinach on top!
Vitamin E is my new favourite thing! After a particularly stressful period last year my hair was looking a little on the wispy side and even after making some major changes to lower stress levels there was no sign of my mane returning to its former glory. I was recommended Vitamin E by a (former team Ireland!) runner, who advised it to help protect the body from oxidative stress which in my case was long distance road running at the time. I found it to be the only thing that actually made a difference to the thickness of my hair, and my nails and complexion reaped the benefits too. I take 100% natural E d-alpha form, derived from Soya beans, from Holland & Barrett.
Yeah we’ve heard it all before, drinking water is the secret to supermodel skin…. but seriously it is. Investing in renewing night creams, facial oils and micro-exfoiliants is a complete waste of time and money if you’re not hydrated to begin with. Hydrated skin is plumper, softer and all round looks better. Case in point that grey hangover complexion - that’s the face of dehydration right there. It’s also worth bearing in mind that B group vitamins and vitamin C are water soluble, meaning you require water for your body to absorb and utilise these. Keep a large water bottle on you and sip away throughout the day, its habit forming and before you know it becomes second nature - that water bottle will become an extension of your arm and your skin will be all the better for it; not to mention increased alertness, less headaches and more efficient metabolism. Get sipping!
I’m not a huge fan of fruit salads or fruit in general (weird, I know) but when it comes to berries I can’t get enough. There’s a dietetic school of thought that any natural food that’s strikingly dark in colour is likely to promote superfood properties (no, chocolate does not count here..!) meaning they’re not only nutrient dense but also rich in age-fighting antioxidants. Buy organic where possible, you want to steer clear of pesticide residue. Throw your berries in the freezer to keep them edible and fresh long past their sell-by date. Frozen berries are also smoothie ready, giving you another opportunity to throw in some flaxseeds!
What are your superfood secrets? Let us know in the comments!
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