There is a saying that we are what we eat, is that true? Do you believe an unhealthy complexion, dry hair and brittle nails are signs of nutrient deficiencies? If you agree with me then, one of the best and healthy ways to improve our overall health and beauty appearance is to incorporate raw food into our diet.
What are raw foods? Raw foods are foods in their natural state, with their enzymes, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals left intact. You may want to know that these components are easily destroyed when foods are cooked over high heat, dried or when they are processed.
Enzymes are essential for many metabolic functions in our body, such as in the digestion, assimilation and elimination of food. One of the reasons for why eating raw foods are good for our health appearance (thus beauty) is that they are decreasing the number of digestive enzymes our body has to produce. By this, it means that eating more cooked food we are not only depleting our body enzyme reserves, but neither building up the enzymes in our body too.
The health impact to us is that reduced enzyme supply will lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and consequently, premature ageing and lower energy levels. (Tip: Sprouts, papaya and pineapple are examples of raw foods that are high in enzymes.)
What is in the raw stuff? The health (and beauty) conscious ones would be familiar with terms like free radicals, antioxidants and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ1 0), but what exactly they can do for us?
Free radicals damage our skin by interfering with the collagen production and cell regeneration, thereby causing premature ageing; antioxidants, on the other hand, help us counter the damaging effects of free radicals, keeping our skin younger looking for longer.
The following are some of the anti-ageing components present in raw foods that I believe will give you a glimpse of what they can do for us and the impact on our health (and beauty!):
- CoQ10 is an antioxidant that is essential to our body energy production. Although CoQ10 is present in every cell in our body, however, its levels will diminish as we age. Spinach, broccoli and peanuts are foods high in CoQ10.
- Berries and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are potent sources of antioxidants. Foods like carrots and apricots are high in antioxidant beta-carotene, which protects our skin against sun damage.
- Raw nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E which helps to promote good skin health.
- Alpha-lipoic acid, commonly found in foods like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and peas, is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the strength of other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and is necessary for our body energy production.
- Minerals and trace minerals, such as sulphur and selenium, are other components found in every cell in our body and are necessary for collagen production. Youngsters, I believe will love sulphur very much as it helps them to improve their skin conditions such as acne. There is high sulphur content in foods like asparagus, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, red pepper, garlic, onion, watercress and kale.
Well, perhaps it is good to learn by heart that whatever goes into our body will be reflected in our overall health and beauty appearance! Hence, if you would like to radiate health and beauty, remember to include heaps of salads, fruits and herbs in your diet, and keep food as lightly cooked as possible.
Tan Kok Hui
Nutrition Made Simple, Life Made Rich