Maia's healthy skin 101

Maia Söderlund is a Health Coach graduated from IIN, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She will be guesting The Edit on a regular basis. Here are her thoughts on the basic rules for optimally glowing and healthy skin.

Our skin is a messenger telling us what is going on inside our body. Healthy skin often means a healthy body, inside and out. Think about tiredness for example, that instantly changes the expression of your face and so does sugar or the toxics from cigarettes even if the effects are less instant. What we put inside our body has as big of an impact on our skin, as the products we use to care for it from the outside.

Staying hydrated is probably the first thing we can do to help our skin look its best. It’s easy to forget, and many of us do. But if we make drinking water a habit, it becomes a habit that sticks. And once you stick with it, your body gets used to the new hydration levels and you’ll feel thirstier. And once you realize the difference, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Our bodies consist of as much as 70% water. A doctor once told me that water is what cleans us from the inside. So, would you rather have fresh water in your body, or two-week-old water? Knowing if you drink enough is pretty easy: check the color of your urine: very light color indicates good hydration levels; the opposite means you need to drink more.

Good fats
We were told for years, that fats make us fat, but it’s about time we bury this misconception. Refined carbs and processed food make us fat and sick. Good fats are a vital part of a balanced diet. The elasticity of the skin comes from hydration, fats and collagen. Fat also helps retain water, contributing to a supple skin. Make avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil and fatty fish or a fish oil supplement part of your daily diet.

Just like the rest of the body needs its restorative sleep, so does our skin. If you doubt the benefit of sleep, compare your tired face to your well rested face and you’ll get the point. We need enough sleep, every night, and we also need good quality sleep and enough deep sleep to feel well rested. Make your bedroom a free zone from electronics: no computers, TV: s or cellphones. If you use the alarm clock function on your mobile, put it on in another room.

Antioxidants protect us from the damage of free radicals in the body. Free radicals, caused by toxins in air and food, cigarettes, alcohol, stress, sugar and processed foods are a major contributor to premature aging. Antioxidants, on the other hand, provide us with vital nutrients and helps keeping us healthy. Leafy green vegetables are the superfoods in this category, but all veggies, fruit and berries contain antioxidants and should form the base of your diet. Make veggies the base on which you add other goodies like the fats I mentioned before.

Cacao is also high in antioxidants along with green tea. And no, cacao does not equal commercial milk chocolate. The darker the better (minimum 70%), try adding nibs or raw cacao powder to your smoothie or granola or make yourself an indulgent hot chocolate of cacao mass or cacao powder and water or a plant based milk (avoid cow’s milk, which weakens the absorption of antioxidants).

Vitamin D
The best way to check your vitamin D levels is to get a blood test. The recommended daily amount depends on where you live, your age and how much time you spend outside exposing your skin to the sun. It’s very tricky to get enough vitamin D only from the sun and from food (fatty fish and wild mushrooms), so I strongly recommend taking a supplement. To get vitamin D from the sun, you need at least 30 minutes of exposure on a good part of the body’s skin (face, arms and chest for example) without any covering clothes or sunscreen.

The official recommended supplementation dosage is very low in many countries, so get informed and get a good quality supplement. Up north you should use a supplement year around.

Maybe toy want to try Maia's tasty green smoothie recipe.

Check out Maia's own blog Maia´s Green Medicine here