As a naturopath, clients often come to my clinic wanting a quick fix to achieve clear skin. By the time they get to me, they've usually tried every "miracle" cream, salon treatment, and nutraceutical on the market to no avail and are surprised to find out that achieving that elusive "glow" can be as simple as incorporating raw foods into their diets.
In my own life and experience with clients, I've found that when about 60 percent of a diet is made up of raw foods, skin can drastically transform in as little as three weeks.
Why? Let me tell you!
Here are five great reasons you should start incorporating more raw foods into your skin-friendly diet, as well as few tips on which ones will have you radiating from the inside out.
1. Raw foods have more enzymes than their cooked counterparts.
Enzymes are crucial for all of the biochemical reactions that happen in the body — digestion, energy production, nutrient absorption, detoxification hormone production — all of which are critical in ensuring your optimal health and beauty. Enzymes can even help to repair our DNA and RNA, which increases our vitality and improves the turnover and repair of our skin cells.
A lack of enzymes in your diet can create a buildup of toxins, which can dull your complexion, slow your metabolism, and decrease the renewal of skin cells, which leads to accelerated aging.
When you cook produce, many of the enzymes naturally found in foods in their raw state are destroyed. Between high temperatures and loss of water, many of these skin-friendly enzymes are lost. By eating food in its raw state, we're able to extract more enzymes to assist in essential metabolic processes and lighten the load on our digestive system.
This doesn't mean you must abstain from all cooking. Cooking can actually help make beauty mineral lycopene more available in tomatoes or cruciferous vegetables easier to digest and help with the absorption of beta carotene in carrots. Just try to keep most of your greens and veggies raw, cooking at a very low temperatures to ensure most of the enzymes are preserved.
How to get 'em: All fruits and vegetables are rich in enzymes, but when it comes to beauty, it's hard to escape the usual recommendation to eat your greens. Due to their rich enzyme and mineral content, the best greens for your skin are arugula, radicchio, dandelion, Swiss chard, watercress, and kale.
One of the superstar fruits when it comes to enzyme-rich foods is pineapple, which is rich in bromelain, which breaks down protein, helps with inflammation, and accelerates healing and recovery.
Fermented foods are also a wonderful way to improve your enzyme intake and promote friendly intestinal bacteria. Just a tablespoon or two of sauerkraut, Kimchee, or pickled veggies can easily be incorporated into your meals.
2. Raw foods are rich in phytoestrogens.
Phytoestrogens are substances found in plant foods that mimic the effects of estrogen. While there is controversy over the action of phytoestrogens, some studies show they can help to counteract the loss of estrogen and slow down loss of collagen and elastin, both of which are crucial to healthy skin.
How to get 'em: Raw foods such as flax seeds, green beans, pomegranates, and nuts and seeds are all rich in phytoestrogens. Flaxseed is the richest dietary source of lignins, a type of phytoestrogen that is unique in its anti-inflammatory properties. Add flaxseed meal to your favorite smoothie or make a batch of flax crackers to get your fix.
3. Raw foods lighten the load on your liver.
The liver is one of the key organs we want to look after when it comes to the health of our skin since it's responsible for cleaning up toxins and assists in storing and distributing essential nutrients. When the liver is overloaded, it tends to eliminate excess toxins via the skin.
Raw foods tend to be liver-friendly because they typically don't contain the toxins, hormones, and antibiotics found in animal products, meaning the liver has less filter work to do. Additionally, they're abundant in fiber and water, and supercharged with antioxidants and nutrients, all of which combine to give the liver a helping hand.
How to get 'em: Lemons, garlic, onions, beetroot, bitter greens, and apples are particularly loved by the liver. They're wonderful in promoting bile function (which helps to remove toxins) and assist the liver in undertaking its detoxification duties. Incorporate these into salads and dressing or make a super smoothie with greens, apples, beetroot, mixed berries, flax meal, and pineapple to cover all raw beauty bases.
4. Raw foods have a high water content.
Hydration is one of the most crucial variables in the appearance of plump, healthy, and youthful skin. The skin contains about 64 percent water, so it makes sense that we need to ensure we're boosting hydration from the inside out.
When you cook produce, much of the water content is lost, so eating raw foods will actually help deliver even more water and hydration to your skin since they haven't been affected by heating or cooking. Similarly, soaking nuts and seeds increases their water concentration, which will have a direct result on your skin.
Of course drinking plenty of water is important for the health of your skin, but there are many other ways via raw foods to get water into your system.
How to get 'em: Raw foods with the highest water content include cucumber, watermelon, celery, strawberries, lettuce, green cabbage, and tomatoes.
5. Raw foods are rich in fiber.
Fiber is one of the best “sweepers” of unwanted debris in the body since it "sweeps" the intestines of unwanted toxins, hormones, and fat. This is crucial when you're undertaking any skin healing protocol as it reduces the impact of excess insulin and estrogen, both of which can wreak havoc on sebum production, acne, and inflamed skin.
How to get 'em: My favorite skin-loving fiber is a mix of chia and flaxseed meal — add a tablespoon to your smoothie or breakfast porridge. They work wonders on the skin given their rich omega-3 profile. Chia and flax are extra-special, as they tend not to cause bloat like other types of fiber.