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You really are what you eat!

There's a reason why a heavy night of drinking leaves skin blotchy and red, and why your nails and hair suffer after a junk-binge. The foods you put into your body have a direct impact on how you look on the outside. Whether it's too much of one thing or too little of another, the signs will be there for you - and everyone else - to see.
The body always prioritises essential functions so if your diet is not optimal then your hair, skin, nails and other parts of the body will reflect a suboptimal nutritional status. Dry, lank hair that frequently moults or begins to thin, dry skin and poor quality nails are just some of the examples."

So how exactly do the wrong foods drag us down, and what should you eat (and not eat) to stay looking healthy and beautiful?

You are what you absorb! First of all, it's important to remember that just because you've eaten something, it doesn't mean it's automatically going to enter your system. The adage 'you are what you eat' is very true, but this relies on what your body is able to absorb. The gut is actually external, which means that nutrients are not inside us until they are absorbed into our blood stream. This means that conditions in your body need to be right to allow this absorption to take place. It's definitely more a case of you are what you absorb. Food is the building block of life, the foundation to health. However, in order for your body to be able to utilise the macro and micro nutrients that come from food, the environment needs to be correct.
For example, if there is yeast overgrowth in the gut, the microflora will not be able to sufficiently absorb the micro nutrients from the gut. And if stomach acid is not strong enough, then the initial break up of food may not occur as efficiently. Finally, if the first stage of digestion, chewing, is not carried out for long enough then this will have ramifications for the whole of the digestive process.
A healthy lifestyle, including a varied diet, plenty of water and regular exercise should allow for optimal absorption rates. And, do as your mother told you to do and chew your food properly!

Your diet and your skin

It's the largest organ in the human body, so it's not surprising that your skin takes a beating when you overdo it on trans-fats, sugar and other nutritionally vacuous foodstuffs.
Forget about overdoing it on cosmetics, and instead think about nourishment from the inside out. First of all, get enough fibre to promote healthy digestion and to remove waste products from the body. Ditch low-fibre, refined carbohydrates such as white muffins, scones, rice and pasta and swap these for whole grain rice, oats, rye and bread.
Water is also essential for dewy, plump skin and you should include in your diet proteins such as white fish, salmon, chicken and vitamin C- rich foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, spinach and watercress. Orange coloured vegetables are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants as well as vitamins C and A, all of which help to build collagen and protect skin cells from damage. You should also get omega-3 fats from oily fish, raw nuts and seeds as these help to prevent dry, flaky skin. Meanwhile, foods that are rich in lipoid acids, such as dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, red meat and calf's liver are known to fight the free radicals that slow down skin cell regeneration.

Limit alcohol intake

You don't just feel terrible after a night on the sauce, you also look it. Alcohol, like any other toxin, attacks the body in numerous ways and this is reflected in physical changes to our body. In the short-term, alcohol results in an increase in skin temperature and facial flushing." Drink too much too often and this dry, red skin will become a problem that won't fade along with your hangover symptoms. Eventually the thread veins around your nose can break, leaving unsightly red marks. Excess alcohol can also lead to dehydrated skin and wrinkles, so stick to government guidelines and consume no more than two to three units a day (one unit is half a standard 175ml glass of wine or half a pint of lager), ideally less, and make sure you have two or three alcohol free days each week.

Striking a balance

The good news is, it's relatively easy to safeguard your looks by eating well and adopting an all-round healthy lifestyle. Our approach to food and drink intake should be healthy and balanced, but also personal. Each of us like different things, so make sure your healthy diet incorporates these preferences, and you'll be fine.

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