New Year, New You: It's that time of the year when we all vow to lead a healthier lifestyle
Ahead of our great give-away of three Food Doctor booklets this week, two of the London clinic's top nutritionists tell Una Brankin how to dramatically improve your well-being in the coming year
With her glowing skin and clear eyes, Alice Mackintosh is living proof her nutritional advice works. Widely regarded as one of London's leading nutrition consultants, 27-year-old Alice regularly writes for magazines and newspapers, and often comments on a host of nutritional matters on radio programmes.
She advises on all aspects of nutrition at the prestigious Food Doctor clinic on Harley Street.
Known for her infectious flair and passion for nutrition, Alice (right) motivates her clients to make positive and meaningful changes to their health without being dull or overly restrictive.
One of Alice's specialist areas is skin regeneration and here she tells how to keep your complexion healthy and youthful.
Q Alice, is the money we spend in the £2.1m skincare industry a total waste if we're not feeding our skin properly from the inside?
AWhilst there is no doubt that many of these products will help support skin structure and discourage blemishes and wrinkles, it doesn't mean that we can only affect how it looks by applying something to the outside of the skin. Just like every other cell in the body, nourishing the skin requires the support of the body's natural reflexes, requiring far more than simply putting lotions and potions on its surface.
QWhich are the best foods and drinks to keep the skin youthful – is lots of oily fish effective?
AYes. People rarely grasp just how much skin health hinges on good nutrition. From a basic structural point of view, Vitamin C and zinc work together to recruit collagen, the glue that holds skin together keeping it strong and elastic rather than soft and saggy.
Essential fats surround every cell in the body and skin cells are heavily reliant not only on the presence of these in our diet, but on the assimilation and absorption of them in the digestive system. Plump hydrated skin is a sign that essential fats are in abundance in our diet, as they should be. The importance of anti-oxidants is also well known and the presence of these in our diet helps to protect DNA and cell membranes, ensuring a strong integrity of skin cells that keeps them resilient to the signs of ageing.
QWhich are the worst foods? Is sugar really ageing?
AThere are lots of foods that really don't do our skin any favours – sugar is a real culprit. Shockingly high amounts of sugar actually crystallise in the skin, which can be quite ageing for the surface.
As well as this, people who eat a lot of sugar tend to eat fewer vegetables and nutrient dense foods meaning that skin can be affected. In addition to this, trans fats found in margarine and processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, crisps and ready meals are detrimental to skin, and can also prevent us from utilising healthy fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds.
Q Do dairy products lead to skin congestion?
ADairy is often an issue for many people. Alcohol and other toxic foods and drinks are also a major culprit, as these place a burden on the liver, which is an organ our skin relies heavily on.
QCan diet – good and bad – have an effect on arthritis and its symptoms?
AOsteoarthritis can be worse in women due to declining levels of oestrogen which occurs naturally as we age; so supporting hormonal health can therefore be a factor in its management.
Reducing sugar, eating a diet with good levels of protein (fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, beans lentils) and wholegrains (brown rice, lentils, wholegrain bread, quinoa and oats) and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit is all vital for this.
Having a diet that is anti-inflammatory is essential given that this is the major contributor to the pain and swelling in all types of arthritis.
Certain foods such as red meat, saturated fats in dairy, ready meals and confectionery, fried foods, take-aways and sugar are all quite pro-inflammatory in the body, so these should be cut out where possible.
Replace with foods that promote anti-inflammatory reactions such as oily fish, healthy fats found in avocado (above), olive oil, coconut oil and walnuts. Green leafy vegetables, bright colourful berries and spices such as turmeric, ginger and garlic (right) are all highly anti-inflammatory.
QIs it possible to feed your skin from the outside, such as with an avocado or porridge oat face mask?
AYes, these foods do appear to have a good effect when applied topically to the skin and are far more preferable to cosmetics with alcohol and synthetic compounds. That said, it is better to eat these foods.
QIs it really that important to drink gallons of water a day for your skin?
AOne of the first signs of dehydration is dull listless skin. Given that the effects of a lack of water can be so visible on the outside, consider also the changes that go on internally. The whole body literally slows down without it, and as skin is so heavily dependent on the functioning of the rest of the body, it is clear why it can be so strongly affected by dehydration.
This is one of the reasons why drinking alcohol can impact so much on skin, as this not only dehydrates us (due to it being a diuretic) but also puts a burden on the liver, which requires water to flush out toxins. Don't do this, and your skin can look as bad as your hangover feels!
Five top brain-boosting foods for your children and ... great lunchbox ideas
Gemma Landau is a nutritional consultant at Food Doctors, specialising in working with post-natal mothers, babies and children. According to Gemma, schoolchildren's nutrition should be tailored to sustain glucose levels and minimise peaks and troughs throughout the day.
To ensure your child stays focused throughout the school day in the year ahead, the contents of their daily lunchbox are of vital importance.
1 Omega 3: An essential fat obtained solely from the diet (the body does not make it), this nutrient is linked to healthy brain function and development.
2 Blood Sugar Balance: In order to keep your child's energy balanced and to help give them the best chance to stay focused in lessons, try to keep their blood glucose levels even throughout the day.
3 Complex carbohydrates: To balance blood glucose further and provide a slower release of energy and glucose from food, consider swapping the 'white' carbohydrates for the 'brown or wholegrain' variety.
4B Vitamins: B vitamins play an important role in aiding the body's energy production, which in turn may help your child to stay focused at school.
5Protein foods: Ensuring your child has protein with each meal as well as their snacks may aid in balancing their blood glucose levels; this may also heighten their concentration at school. Protein also helps to ensure your child remains fuller for longer to keep them focused on lessons rather than food!