It’s that time of the year again… The beginning, that is. It’s the first Monday of 2017 and I know all of you are looking at your New Year’s resolutions with fear and dread, wondering how are you going to accomplish all those intimidating goals. Specially the health and fitness ones! I know I am.
One of my biggest concerns for this year is to improve the appearance of my skin. I was diagnosed with PCOS last year and it’s definitely taking a toll on my complexion. Spots, blemishes, blackheads, acne and seriously unwanted shine are all now a part of my day-to-day life. I know products will do little to improve my condition if I don’t first address my body from the inside. And that means—among other things—getting the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and hydration my body and skin needs.
Juices are a great way to “hack” your body to a healthier state. Since there’s no peeling, cutting, measuring or clean up involved, there are no excuses. Just buy, twist-off and sip your daily needed dose of fruits and vegetables.
To learn more about which specific juices are great for better skin, I consulted our resident Panama juice expert Vivi de Castro of Happy Verde juices. Happy Verde is a phonetic play on the words Happy Birthday, with verde meaning green in Spanish. It’s just the cutest and most clever name ever, don’t you think?
Vivi has a degree in Artisanal Bread Baking from the International Culinary Center of New York. She graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition as a Health Coach in 2011 and then as an Eating Psychology Coach from the Institute of the Psychology of Eating. All thoughts and opinions below are her own.
FOLLOW A CONSTELLATION ON BLOGLOVIN’
AS A HOLISTIC HEALTH COACH, YOU KNOW THE BODY IS ALL CONNECTED AND NO ORGAN FUNCTIONS IN ISOLATION. WHAT ORGANS AFFECT THE SKIN THE MOST AND WHY?
The skin is a mirror of everything that is going on in the inside and I think all organs have to work together properly in order for our skin to glow. But I would like to emphasize on the intestines and digestion. This is the first thing I would address if someone has skin problems.
The GI tract and the skin are similar organs. Both of them are interactive with the environment. This is a bit scientific but I’m going to try and simplify with familiar terms so it’s easier to understand: Both the intestines and the skin are organs that “breathe”: they inhale and exhale. The intestines absorb food (nutrients and water) and excrete toxins and waste (poop). And the skin, not only holds all the other organs in place, but also absorbs and excretes waste (like sweat). They both give and take. This “respiration” is key for a healthy body because it gives us the ability to get rid of waste and toxins (detoxification).
When the intestines are not working correctly—usually if someone is constipated or has too much inflammation—it almost inevitably shows in our skin because this is the other “respiration” organ, and it is the only way for our bodies to excrete the waste so it shows up as pimples, acne and even serious skin problems.
When the intestines are healthy, cleansing nutrients from fruits and vegetables or even simple things like water allow it to perform its function well. A person who has a healthy digestion most likely has a glowing complexion.
Fruits and vegetables! Eating nutrient rich foods allow our bodies to absorb vitamins and minerals so it can perform all functions correctly. A great way to do it is by drinking juice from raw fruits and vegetables, of course! They not only get our digestion moving but also cleanse the intestines, ending up in healthy and glowing skin!
Probiotics are also SO important for skin health. Probiotics are healthy and helpful bacteria that help break down food, absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins. They also discourage the growth of yeast and harmful bacteria that lead to problems like chronic inflammation, intolerances, yeast and other nasty stuff that cause skin problems and acne. Probiotics are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and most fermented products. They can also be taken in capsules; I personally take a capsule daily. I have tried many brands and ended up loving Bio-Kult; they keep my digestion running smoothly and they do not have to be refrigerated all the time and I can take them everywhere with me.
Water—this is really simple, actually. Drinking adequate amounts of water aids in the “respiration” process of our GI tract by helping absorb and excrete. Skin cells, like all other cells, are made up of water! Without water our bodies would not work at their best.
Most fruits and vegetables have beneficial effects in our skin. But these are my favorites.
Carrots: Skin’s very best friend! They give us a really nice color and glow. And they are full of vitamin A, which is a powerful antioxidant that prevents cells from degenerating, slows down ageing and help us maintain a youthful appearance. Carrots also have vitamin C, which helps our bodies produce collagen. Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and preventing wrinkles.
Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants. Turmeric is amazing for our skin to look smooth; less inflamed and eliminates breakouts. Hindu brides usually use a turmeric mask before the wedding to fix any skin flaws and get a gorgeous glow.
Beets: Amazing for vibrant and glowing skin. Beets help detoxify and cleanse our bodies with powerful vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and vitamin C so toxins won’t end up in our face!
Parsley: I have many problems with uneven skin tone and parsley has been a great ally to my skin. It also speeds up the healing process when you get breakouts. Parsley is a powerful herb with lots of vitamin C and K that improve skin elasticity.
This is a tough one because it’s very personal and I think many of us will arrive at a different answer. Every body works differently and some people tolerate some things more than the other.
For me, dairy is the worst. Although some people drink their coffee with milk every day and have amazing skin (which makes me really jealous, hehe) dairy nowadays is full of hormones, which change the natural levels of estrogen and testosterone and lead to acne. Dairy is highly inflammatory, it is a protein that it is very hard for our bodies to break down and digest thus ending up in a not-so-smooth digestion and then straight to our face.
But… I just can’t leave out sugar—sugar is not good for us, end of discussion. Sugar is everywhere, and it’s hard to really kick it out of our diets for good but everyone who has skin problems and cuts down sugar will tell you that it makes a huge difference. And fast. Sugar causes insulin and adrenal problems (glands that produce hormones and respond to stress levels), which lead to inflammation and breakouts. Sugar also breaks down collagen in the skin, so it increases the risk of wrinkles and ageing.
A beauty routine must be like our “respiration” organs. Inside and out.
On the inside…
My beauty routine starts in the morning with a cold-pressed juice. This is my liquid multi-vitamin that keeps me going. I sometimes take a beauty shot made out of cold pressed turmeric and lemon; it’s super cleansing and good for overall health.
I also take one probiotic capsule each morning to keep my gut flora healthy.
Exercise is very important for the skin! It improves our overall health and also kick-starts our digestion. It keeps things moving and flowing, which is so essential to detoxification.
I am not going to lie, I have been slacking this month in this area because I like to exercise outdoors (with lots of green) and traffic has been very bad. Actually there is no excuse… But I really dislike exercising in gyms or enclosed places; it really does not work for me since part of my exercise routine’s goal is to release stress and somehow I end up stressed out in enclosed or very busy places. Clayton’s park [in Panama City] has been part of my routine for almost 7 years now. I go at least three times a week for a run.
Exercise also helps deal with stress. Stress also shows up in our skin as well as internally with acne, wrinkles and premature aging. I firmly believe that the body works as a whole and emotions take part on our health just as much as food.
For stress, which unfortunately I am very prone to have by my side, I take Reishi. Reishi is a mushroom and an adaptogen. Adaptogens help improve the health of the adrenals, which are in charge of managing the body’s response to stress. Spoiler alert: A new Happy Verde mylk is coming out in January and will have Reishi in it, to help everybody deal with today’s fast paced and sometimes very stressful day-to-day.
On the outside…
I keep it really simple. I wash my face with Palmer’s Eventone Foaming Cleanser. It’s a cleanser I have bought since forever and I love it. I have tried many more but end up coming back to it. It’s not 100% natural but it helps even out my skin, as my face tone is very prone to spots. It is also super soft and non-drying. After that I just apply sunscreen.
On the weekends that I usually go to the beach, I travel with Dead Sea Warehouse’s bar soap. It is easy to carry and it is really soft to my skin.
At night I wash my face again and then use Pratima’s Botanical Moisture Cream. I like this cream because it has amazing ingredients such as aloe vera and carrot seed oil rich in vitamins that keep my face extra soft.
I also use Pratima’s Turmeric cream once a week. It is super healing and with Panama’s hot weather I tend to get red and irritated on my cheeks. This cream helps a lot because turmeric is magic to skin and it also has ghee, one of nature’s richest moisturizers with cooling and nourishing properties that strengthen the skin.
Pratima’s skincare line is amazing and one of the brands I have actually kept on my beauty routine for long. It’s an Ayurvedic skincare line created for each “dosha”, which are the three energies that circulate in the body and differ in each person. So it’s not only a bottle of amazing ingredients but healing agents made specifically for you. I am not an Ayurveda expert but I love how it teaches that a problem has to be fixed by its root, and to truly heal the skin it is important to use pure herbs and botanicals with no chemicals or artificial preservatives that end up offering no true benefits.
For my body I like coconut oil. I make my own coconut oil by blending coconut’s pulp with its water, letting it set for a day in the fridge and then boiling what is left on the top which is mostly oil. I leave it boiling for a few hours and even toast the coconut inside. It comes up in a caramel color and smells amazing! It’s my very own unrefined, virgin, toasted coconut oil and it has lots of vitamin E that keeps skin smooth and hydrated. I also use it on my hair once in a while to keep it nice and hydrated.
Juices are a great way to keep our bodies nourished and working well. You should remember our cold-pressed juices are powerful extracts that contain pounds and pounds of produce inside. Most of them have no fiber so they absorb really quickly into the system and work their magic instantly. I recommend sipping our juices as if they were wine.
For somebody that eats healthy, I would recommend one or two juices daily. One juice in the morning and one before dinner or even substituting dinner for a 16oz juice would be a good way to stay healthy.
For someone who does not eat healthy or does not eat many fruits and vegetables I would say it would be good to drink as many juices as possible. For a beginner, I suggest one juice before breakfast. At this time of the day our stomach is empty and everything is absorbed better. This is a great way to see results fast!
Think of your body as your home. When you don’t take care of it, it becomes dusty, rusty and chaotic. A juice cleanse is a way to put your house in order and fix whatever was not working correctly. A juice cleanse gives our digestion a break. It allows it to restore and cleanse thus using all the energy (that is usually working on digesting heavy foods) to heal. It is amazing how skin looks and feels after a juice cleanse. It is the first thing my clients notice after a few days of drinking only juice and since skin is the mirror of what is going on inside, it shows how juices really work!
I would recommend cleansing every 3 months or when you’re feeling sluggish, with low energy, congested, bloated, overweight, getting sick often, after having lots of alcohol or just when you feel like feeling great!
These are all recommendations, but there are no rules! We are all different and work with different routines. I think once you start drinking them, each person will figure out how they like to add juices to their diets. I know many people that drink their juice after their daily workout or even as a late afternoon snack. However it works for you is fine, as long as you get the dose of vitamins and minerals you need!
Photos by me. In collaboration with Happy Verde.
This interview is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.