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In today’s post, I had the pleasure of speaking with Julie Starr, Nutritionist Extraordinaire, Yoga & Barre Instructor, owner of Starr Yoga Studios and Starr Life Wellness (IG @starrlifestudios) in Roslindale, MA and West Hartford, CT and also a Mom! Julie has a Masters Degree in Nutrition with over a decade of experience, and I can speak with authority about how amazing she is because she is MY Nutritionist! She helped me through nourishing myself properly during the ups and downs of fertility treatments and my subsequent spontaneous pregnancy with Everly! I know that applying what she taught me has not only improved my health, but my skin as well!
“So, Julie, can you tell me more about how proper nutrition can improve the skin?”
“Yes! The first thing that I will say, which is literally the answer to everything health related, is eat a variety of plant-based food, stay hydrated and eat fish. Following a Mediterranean Diet is helpful for any state of health such as heart disease or high blood pressure, and it enhances vitality in healthy individuals!
The number one thing that you need to do to have good skin is Hydration. It is SO basic but it is so important. Drinking drinks all day that dehydrate you such as coffee is not beneficial. Anytime you reach for coffee, reach for water instead! You also don’t need to worry too much about getting the recommended ’64 ounces’ of water per day if you are eating water based vegetables and fruits throughout the day! An example of water based vegetables are peppers, celery, strawberries, and watermelon. There are also multiple benefits of getting your hydration from fruits and vegetables because they contain Antioxidants, Vitamins and Minerals. Colorful fruits and veggies are the best because the color is what holds the vitamins.”
“Are there any specific foods that are more beneficial than others for the skin?”
- Peppers and Strawberries– these contain a lot of water as well as Vitamin C
- Dark chocolate– This contains flavinols which are an anti-oxidant. A great way to have dark chocolate is as dark chocolate covered almonds to help combat blood sugar spikes. The skin does NOT like sugar spikes!
- Greek yogurt– This kind of yogurt contains a lot of protein. Protein is GREAT for fine lines!
- Pomegranete– These contain antioxidant and fight free-radicals. They are also fun to eat!
- Walnuts– Full of Fatty Acids such as Omega 3’s. They are a great alternative to fish, as some fish is very high in mercury. Omega 3’s help with the skin’s elasticity. A fish that is low in mercury are sardines, but I don’t really know a lot of people who like them! So… walnuts!
- Oatmeal– Oatmeal is good for everything- it lowers your cholesterol, it’s good for your heart and it also helps to stabilize blood sugar.
- Beans-Beans are high in Zinc. Also, Oysters are high in Zinc!
- Spinach– High in Beta Carotene which converts to Vitamin A
- Olive Oil- Contains essential fatty acids which is great for the skin!
- Sunflower Seeds– These are high in Vitamin E
J- “Eat a varied diet. Fresh is best. Fresh, local foods do wonders for your health and your skin’s overall appearance. The other thing I find is that making health a priority is such great self care for women. Usually we have guilt about this! No guilt! You work hard, you deserve it! Also, if you take better care of what you are eating, you will start to take better care of your skin! You can be your very best you!”
A- “You mentioned a few times that the skin does not like blood sugar spikes! Can you tell us a little bit more about how to maintain good blood sugar levels?”
J- “Yes! You can think of your blood sugar kind of like a roller coaster- there’s a ceiling and there is a basement. When you eat something containing a lot of sugar, you feel good because your blood sugar climbs up to the top of the rollercoaster, up to the ceiling. But it has to come back down again! So as it comes down into the basement, you start to not feel good! You go after something with sugar again to make yourself feel good again. But what you find is you are going up and down to the ceiling and the basement over and over again! If you aren’t eating fiber or protein and only processed sugar, this will keep happening. Eating complex carbs, fiber and protein helps to keep you in between the ceiling and the basement on even levels.”
A- “Also- I will comment on what actually happens to the skin when glucose is floating around without protein or carbs to bind to! As glucose moves through your bloodstream in abundance (which also includes all of the capillaries in your skin and the extra cellular matrix!), they create what are called “Advanced Glycation End-Products” or “AGE’s”. Like the pneumonic, they DO age you! These AGE’s form a sticky substance, creating tiny ladders within the collagen fibers in the skin. These “ladders” can actually become so entangled, much like a spider web, that they pull down on the skin under the surface, causing fine lines and wrinkles. The more sugar you consume without protein to bind to, the more glucose you have just floating around! As we age, the glucose is processed much more slowly, which is another reason to limit sugar and certainly limit sugar spikes in your diet! Not to mention you will feel better! There is a great study on AGE’s and the skin here. There’s also a great post about sugar spikes and the skin from The Wellness Works in the UK here.”
J- “Yes! And I have to say, in our nation, we have not only an epidemic of obesity, but we have obese people who are in reality, malnourished! If you are consuming foods that are processed, high in sugar and low in nutrients, you can actually have vitamin deficiencies! Consuming protein, carbs and fat isn’t enough- it’s the vitamins, minerals and water which direct the calories on where to go and how to function in your body! Another thing is salt! Too much salt dehydrates you and your skin. There is no point to adding salt to anything you eat unless you are adding it to a homemade soup for flavor. Salt is in everything so there really is no need to add it to food. Cooking meals is essential! Food should not be fast, and everyone has 5 minutes. If you have time to put your makeup on in the morning, then you have time to eat a proper breakfast before you head out the door! You get what you put in- if you take the time to care for your skin and see an aesthetician you will get results. It’s the same with nutrition. If you take the time to shop carefully and make meals at home, you will see the benefits in your health as well as your skin!”
“What should a proper meal entail?”
J- “A proper meal consists of this- half of the plate is fruits and vegetables, a quarter are carbs (more specifically complex carbs which break down more slowly such as whole grains or sweet potato), a quarter is protein, and then a sliver of fat (such as two tablespoons of olive oil if you are making a salad for example). As women and men, we set the example for our kids. If we tell them to eat their vegetables, and we aren’t eating ours, it sends a big message!”
“Thank you SO much for your expert advice Julie! I know that if anyone reading this applies this information they will be glowing from the inside out!”
Julie Starr has worked with a diverse group of healthcare practitioners including medical professionals, personal trainers, midwives, herbalists, and acupuncturists. She has served as the National Director of Nutrition at Exhale Spas, a pediatric nutritionist at a local community health center, and taught nutrition courses at the college level. As a private nutrition specialist, Julie helps clients overcome any food or nutritional struggles, including weight challenges, disordered eating, and food allergies. Julie also provides nutritional guidance and program development as part of corporate wellness programs, including wellness lectures, webinars, and seminars to businesses throughout the country. She works with groups to develop healthful eating habits on the job, while educating and motivating each individual to lead a lifestyle that promotes wellbeing.