It’s the vacation month of July, that exciting time of year when everyone waves goodbye to home and jets off to somewhere with more consistent weather. No matter where you’re going, there’s nothing quite like knowing you look your healthiest, and feeling like you can take on anything. Want to tone up before visiting family? Want to have a good time on the beach, knowing your hair and skin are protected? Over the coming week,the ‘Best Self’ series be offering tips which will help boost the health of your mind and body and tone your physique in time for – and during – that much-anticipated holiday.
Firstly, you need to consider your overall health. Assuming you do the basics – i.e., get at least seven hours of sleep a night, are active and eat at appropriate intervals– there are still many vitamins and supplements that may further improve your health. So we’ve compiled all the best ones and how to get them in your diet!
Some vitamins, such as A, E and K, are stored in our bodies, and need only be taken once every two or three days. Others, such as C, need to be replenished more frequently, and we should include it in our daily intake. We generally get enough vitamin C in our diet – otherwise, we would all have scurvy – but increasing our Vitamin C intake to up to 1,000mg can also do wonders for our skin. Vitamin C aids in wound healing, clears imperfections and scars and allows the production of collagen, which in turn leads to moisturised, supple and fast-healing skin.
The best sources of Vitamin C are in Citrus fruits like, Oranges, Lemons, Limes & Grapefruits but also Red and Green Peppers, Kiwi fruits, Brussell Sprouts and – perfect for the summer sun – Strawberries.
Vitamin H (Biotin)
Biotin is key for cell growth and can thicken and strengthen both hair and nail cuticles. It is useful for growing thicker hair, i.e. hair with a thicker shaft, and can increase hair growth by up to a half inch a month. Brittle nails, thinning hair and even alopecia are no match for this vitamin.
Some of the best places to get Vitamin H are in Carrots, Almonds, Walnuts and plain old chicken’s eggs.
Silica is a mineral and is a combination of calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron and horsetail. It aids in the production of collagen, which is useful for conserving skin elasticity and maintaining overall skin health; zinc especially is important for pliable skin (preventing stretch marks). Silica complex is also great for hair and is recommended to be taken alongside biotin for healthy strands.
For the foods highest in silica look no further than the humble banana which has 13.6mg per 250g fruit. Afraid of healthy foods? Have no fear because a litre of Ale has 19.2mg of Silica… Just be careful to not have too much!
Honey is an antioxidant and has antibacterial properties and so can excel at wound healing. Thick and moisturising, it can be mixed with coconut oil to create a rejuvenating mask for hair and eyelashes that encourages growth. When consumed, Manuka honey – favoured over standard honey as it contains more Methylglyoxal, which is what makes it antibacterial– helps shed dead skin and unclog pores, leading to soft lips, fast-healing scars and giving skin a healthy radiance.
Holland Barratt have a good selection of Makuka Honeys on offer.
Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
Yes, oil contains saturated fat, but no, it is NOT bad for you, as it contains medium chain fatty acids (the ‘bad’ saturated fats found in dairy and meats are made of long chain fatty acids, which are far harder for your body to digest). Oils keep skin from becoming dry; typically, they lock in moisture and consuming oil increases skin’s lipid content, leading to a hydrated, smooth and glowing body. Try a teaspoon a day – it doesn’t taste great but you might find you can use it to replace body cream. Or, why not use it as an alternative to Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil when cooking and frying?
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is another vile-tasting but ‘good’ fatty acid. It is a great source of vitamin D and is an all-rounder, excellent for hair, skin, bones, nails and eye health. Taking cod liver oil is pretty much a given – as a child, some adult probably shoved it into you at some point or another, and for good reason!
Rather than the supplement, try eating one meal a week at least with fresh fish (of any kind!) and you can avoid taking those awful capsules!
MSM– an abbreviation of Methylsulfonylmethane – contains sulphur, which is a key detoxifier. It flushes out your system, speeds cell turnover and boosts your immune system. MSM is perfect for scars, uneven skin tone and dullness of the eyes and body. Be careful, though – when first taking MSM, your body will begin detox, which can initially cause headaches, breakouts and fatigue. It is best to start at a small dosage (around 500mg) and increase this amount every four days, working your way up to about 3000mg.
Alternatively, the following foods have natural MSM in them milk, coffee, tomatoes, tea, Swiss chard, beer, alfalfa sprouts and corn. It also is found in fruits such as apples and raspberries, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It’s worth remembering that processed food tends to have less, so go for fresh tomatoes and fruits because if it’s canned it won’t have the benefits!
We’ve all heard that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. This is false. A good way to remember is to “drink half of your body weight in water daily”; e.g., a 150lb person should drink 75 fluid oz. of water, or 2 litres. (Fluid Ozs aren’t the same as weight ozs but it’s easy to remember!)
If you have difficulty remembering to drink water, keep a bottle and try finish it by the end of the day (if it is 1L and you need 2L, finish it and fill a second time). If you find water bland, mix it with fresh fruits such as lemon, cucumber and strawberries, or mint or green teabags and ice for a refreshing drink.
Come back tomorrow for tips on healthy skin. Image Rights; Garry Knight