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Filtering by Tag: healthy skin

Olive Oil Is Skin Care Gold

Kerri Vilaverde

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I once spilled nearly a half bottle of olive oil on my kitchen counter.  I could have wept. To avoid it going to waste, I hand-squeegeed it into a Tupperware and moved it to the bathroom.  I used it on my legs, my cuticles, in the tub, and in my hair. Anywhere I thought sounded like a good idea. It’s something my grandmother would have recommended, and let me tell you she knew what she was talking about.  

Olive oil is packed with antioxidants, lipids, fatty acids, and squalene.  These components can help protect against free radicals and plump and hydrate skin.  It also has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Olive oil has a long history of skin care use.  Considering that the olive tree is possibly the oldest known tree on earth, that’s not too surprising.  In 2012, scientists carbon-dated olive trees in Gethsemane and found them to be at least 900 years old AND in excellent health.

The ancient Greeks thought that olive trees were a gift from the goddess Athena.  As the story goes, the first king of Athens, Cecrops, who was half person and half snake, wanted to find a patron God or Goddess for his city.  Athena and Poseidon were chosen to compete and after much fighting, presented a gift to the King and the city for judgment. Poseidon struck the earth with his trident and created a salt water spring. Athena, on the other hand, planted an olive branch in the ground. After a tree grew in its place, Cecrops chose Athena’s gift and the olive tree has remained a central part of Greek culture for thousands of years.

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Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used olive oil in cleansers and as a moisturizer.  Cleopatra is said to have used olive oil on her skin as part of her many famously luxurious rituals.  Many ancient cultures including Indian and Greek believed that if you couldn’t eat something and put it into your body you wouldn’t put it on the outside of your body either.

Many of us have adopted a similar philosophy today.  Beauty icons such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr, and Chloë Grace Moretz have admitted to using olive oil in beauty treatments.  But perhaps the most revered user is the legendary movie star, Sophia Loren. Throughout her life, she was often asked about her secret to looking young and beautiful and is quoted as saying  “a love of life, spaghetti and the odd bath in virgin olive oil.". That is how I want to live my life. How about you? Pass the pasta, please.

Eat Your Sunscreen

Janis Covey

Eat your sunscreen?  Now, before you trash your favorite sunscreen, we don’t suggest that you stop applying your SPF (This is extremely important.  Looking for safe sunscreens, check out MADE SAFE's Guide), but we do mean you should eat to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to protect and repair itself from UV rays. 

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Vitamin D: We all know that a little bit of sun exposure to let our bodies produce vitamin D is essential for good health.  However, with the rise in use of sunscreens, the majority of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.  This is a contributing factor to the recent increase in bone fractures (vitamin D is required for proper absorption of calcium).  There are also certain cancers which are linked to vitamin D deficiency.  More research is needed on sun exposure, sunscreens and vitamin D deficiency, but it appears that a small amount of time in the sun (about 15 minutes for fair skin) could have both positive effects on our immune systems and protective effects against certain types of cancer, including skin cancer, with the boost of vitamin D levels.

Lycopene: Lycopene is from the carotene family and is an excellent free radical scavenger.  A study done in 2001 found that consuming lycopene rich tomato paste resulted in a 40% lower sunburn reaction than the control group who only consumed olive oil.  Lycopene is found in red foods such as tomatoes, watermelon and grapefruit.  If you prefer spicy to sweet, Chili powder is also an excellent source of lycopene.

Dietary Tomato Paste Protects against Ultraviolet Light–Induced Erythema in Humans

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Vitamin C:  Vitamin C boosts the immune system to fight free radical damage.  Vitamin C also aids in the body’s collagen production.  Collagen is the protein that forms the basic structure of the skin.  Breakdown of collagen will leave the skin saggy.  Vitamin C is not stored in the body and must be consumed regularly.  It is especially important to eat foods high in vitamin C after sun exposure since levels will most likely be depleted.  Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit are high in vitamin C.  As well as papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and strawberries. 

Beta-carotene:  Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant and another excellent free radical scavenger.  Beta-carotene can help prevent burning and the damaging effect of the sun’s rays.  Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, the immune system and eyes.  Most importantly, beta-carotene in the body converts only what it needs into vitamin A.  Vitamin A is toxic at excessive levels which can occur with overuse of supplements.  Foods rich in beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos, kale, spinach and broccoli.

Lutein: Lutein is a phyto-nutrient probably most recognized for its benefits in eye health.  Lutein protects the skin from sun damage, boosts skin hydration and elasticity.  Lutein is sensitive to heat so it's best to consume raw foods high in lutein such as kale, spinach, carrots, orange peppers and broccoli.

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Polyphenols: I saved the best for last!  Any health benefit that includes eating dark chocolate is a win in my book!  Polyphenols are powerful anti-oxidants and offer protection against radicals.  Excellent sources of polyphenols include green tea, black tea and DARK CHOCOLATE (yum).