Mana Hattat is a certified Health Coach based in London. Having studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she is well versed in the ins and outs of healthy eating. We decided to pick her brain and ask 6 key questions to allow our readers to gain some interesting insights about which types of food we should be eating to help us and our skin flourish.
Check out our Q & A below!
Q1. Which foods do you recommend to support healthy skin?
We need to eat clean foods for it to reflect on our skin. One of the things I recommend is to "eat the rainbow." What this means is consuming lots of different colours of vegetables and fruits. Every colour has its own vitamin mineral-rich content, fibre and antioxidants that we need. Also, choosing non-processed grains such as brown rice rather than white can help to feed our skin rather than irritate it.
Another tip is to not shy away from eating healthy fats. Foods such as avocado, oily fish, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and tahini all help to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin. Avoiding processed fats like corn oil, sunflower oil, refined sugar and carbs is also key.
Last but not least, healthy skin starts in the gut, so if we keep our gut happy our skin will be happy. We have to increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut by incorporating natural probiotics into our diets. Foods such as apple cider vinegar, pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, homemade yoghurt are great sources of probiotics. Additionally, prebiotics such as bananas, onions, artichokes, garlic and leeks are also extremely beneficial because they act as food for probiotics.
Q2. What type of food would you like to see people eat more of?
Things I would like to see people eating more of is real, whole foods rather than junk food.
People should also make an effort to eat and drink more greens. They should also stay hydrated throughout the day and drink more water and coconut water.
When you're in need of a snack, try to opt for seeds and nuts rather than packaged foods. If you're in a position where your options are limited, always read the ingredients on the back of the label and try to buy the ones which contain real ingredients; not hard to pronounce chemicals and additives.
Substituting your daily coffee with turmeric lattes, matcha or any kind of tea can also be very helpful. I'm not saying don't drink coffee ever, but people reach for it too often so try to be more mindful.
Finally, sugar is really your skin's and body's worst enemy. Instead, treat your sweet tooth with fresh fruits or dark chocolate. There are plenty of healthy dessert recipes that contain more innocent version of sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey or dates. That being said, don't go overboard - watch out for the total quantity of sugar you consume.
Q3. Which types of foods should we avoid that contribute to acne/inflammatory conditions?
When it comes to acne, the most important thing is to heal is the gut. The most irritating foods for the gut are sugar, meat, gluten, eggs, dairy and all processed foods. Diets rich in refined foods such as processed grains, fried foods, breads, and potato chips, boost internal inflammation by producing excess linoleic acid in the body. This is one of the main components in the production of excess sebum. With an overproduction of sebum on the skin, acne is much more likely to develop.
Q4. A lot of people are dealing with stress and anxiety during the current climate, are there any supplements or food groups that you would recommend to help cope with this?
What I'd suggest is increasing the number of immune boosting herbs that you consume. Turmeric, for example, has been proven to help treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. It singlehandedly can help to elevate your serotonin levels and lower your cortisol production. It is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory superfood. You can incorporate turmeric into your diet by adding it to a drink, to your cooking or taking it as a supplement. Please note, with regards to taking supplements, I recommend you consult your doctor or physician first.
Ginger contains high levels of antioxidants which can boost your immunity and it also contains calming properties that can lower your stress levels. You can steep grated ginger for 5 minutes in hot water and add some lemon juice, to make a quick ginger tea for example.
Q6. Are there any healthy habits that we should adopt, not just in quarantine but in daily life?
Some of my favourite daily hacks are as follows:
Start your day with warm water and lemon, you can also add apple cider vinegar for an extra boost. Doing this will start up your metabolism and encourage your bowels to move, ridding your body of unwanted toxins.
Move your body every day. Doing sports is not just about going to the gym three times a week. Movement is crucial even if it's just walking for 20 minutes or running after your kids. It can consist of ten minutes of yoga or a one hour full body workout. Try to find what works best for you, because everybody is different.
When sitting down for a meal, it's very important to eat slowly and to chew well. Digestion starts in the mouth. As we chew our food, our saliva creates enzymes to help break it down, enabling us to digest our food properly. When this process happens, we maximise our nutritional intake from what we've eaten. Another common mistake I see people make is drinking liquids with their meals. Doing this should be avoided as it dilutes the production of enzymes and slows down our digestive processes. It also causes a lot of bloating.
Getting enough sleep is key to feeling your best and to maintaining a healthy body. When your body is asleep, it goes into repair mode. If your sleep is interrupted, this vital phase of repair is disturbed, weakening your immune system. Aim to have 8 hours of sleep each night.
Lastly, the most important thing is our mental health and our inner happiness. This will show up in our skin right away. Therefore, I recommend meditation and deep belly breathing to help us feel secure and happy in our body and soul. Being healthy and looking healthy is not just about consuming good foods, we should try to be kind, forgiving and to stay positive at all times.