Dull and lacklustre skin is not the inevitable result of growing older. You can look your best and improve your skin provided you start right now. Everyday, our skin has to bear with a constant assault of chemicals, pollution, dust and grime. <b1>
Add incorrect food habits, minimal exercise and irregular sleeping patterns and little wonder that you end up having a poor digestive system and a dull looking skin. Here is where fibre can step in and help you get back healthy skin.
A good diet, of course, is crucial to maintaining a healthy skin but did you know that fibre works extra hard to keep your skin flawless and acne proof?
Go green for fibre
Fibre or roughage exists in abundance in all plant-based foods. It is that part of the plant which cannot be digested and passes unchanged through the intestinal tract. It does not provide any energy or nutrients but keeps us in good health, acting as a broom that cleans the body of toxins, fats and waste.
Think of fibre as a sponge passing through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It has water holding and bulk forming properties. It cleans the GI tract and lowers cholesterol.
The soluble fibre found in guar gum, psyllium husk, apple skin, oat bran, fruits and vegetables acts as a cleanser and eliminates toxins from the body. So if you peel apples of remove the fibre whole grains like in maida, you are removing all the vitamins and minerals. What remains is junk! This is why fibre-stripped food like pizzas, burgers, french fries, chips, samosas, chakli, sev are called junk food. This fibre stripping also upsets the digestion and leads to a toxin overload, which reflects on your skin.
Wonders for the skin
Fibre help to improve the circulation of blood, keeps it thin, and improves the supply of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, thus improving your skin’s appearance from the inside out. The most important thing you can do to have glowing, youthful skin is to improve your diet. A high-fibre and fluid diet will ensure skin that is soft, well-hydrated and flawless. Make gradual changes in your diet by switching from refined and processed foods to whole grain and natural fibre.
In addition to these, your skin care regimen should also include an element of regular exercise.
Increase fibre in your diet
* Eat whole grain cereals only. For example, whole wheat bread, jowar, wheat or bajra rotis.
* Add wheat bran to your regular wheat flour in a proportion of 1:1.
* Replace a diet with refined carbohydrates (as in maida products) and processed foods (namkeen, cakes, pav, wafers) with a high fibre diet containing about 40-60 per cent complex carbohydrates, 30 per cent protein and 10-15 per cent fats. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help protect against common skin conditions like acne, dermatitis and redness.
* Emphasise on greens. Leafy vegetables like methi, spinach, radish leaves, mustard leaves and sprouts provide essential nutrients in a natural form. Drink a glass of carrot juice or coriander juice daily to pack in antioxidants along with fibre. Include a plateful of salad with every meal and make it interesting with a variety of dressings like olive oil, vinegar, lime juice or curd and herbs of your choice.
* Fruits like figs, pineapple, grapes, melons, papaya, prunes and pears are especially fibre-rich.
* While the exact amount of fluids you should drink each day varies, no one disputes the role good hydration plays in keeping skin looking healthy and young.
It is important to remember that what you eat reflects on your skin. Once you bring about the required alterations in your diet, don’t expect a miracle. It might take a few weeks or even months, but t the changes will take place.
Changing the way we eat is completely within our reach and what we choose to eat today will determine the way we look today and over the years to come.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre