Good nutrition and glowing skin: when it comes to beauty, they go hand in hand
Photograph: Louisa Parry, Stylist: Vicky Lees
Chef and writer Anna Jones has mixed up her beauty routine during this year’s lockdowns. For her, healthy skin starts from the inside – and is enhanced on the outside
by: Anna Jones, for The Guardian
This year has changed everything. I’m 41 and I’ve become an absolute cliché, by which I mean I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin. The longer I spend in my body, the more I realise how thankful I should be. Health is what’s important.
As a chef, I’m really into the idea of creating healthy recipes that nourish my body from the inside out. This year has been so strange and I’ve really missed being out in the world and cooking for other people. But one good thing that’s come out of 2020 is experimenting with what I can create in my own home, particularly fermentation processes and foods that are good for your gut.
Photograph: Louisa Parry
I brew my own kombucha, which I love – I drink less alcohol than I used to and, in terms of flavour, kombucha can feel as good as wine in the evenings. It’s been a real revelation.
Sourdough has been popular with a lot of people, too. First, it’s well-made bread where the yeast has been allowed to ferment all the way through its natural cycle. A sourdough starter is just water and flour stirred together: the natural bacteria all around us in the air is what brings it to life. It’s about harnessing what’s already there in the world and using that to ferment bread. It seems to me that it’s gentler on my system than processed yeast, and I find I digest it much better. And I love eating it, so it’s a bonus knowing it’s doing some good – inside and out.
I’m really interested in new ideas about agriculture, about how microbiomes in soil are needed for the microbiomes in our bodies. A microbiome is a network of micro-organisms, and they can contribute to our wellbeing. I recently discovered that even walking through different environments, like a meadow or a forest, can enrich your microbiome – so think what eating probiotic-rich foods and applying probiotic products to your skin can do.
Over these months of staying at home I’ve taken pleasure from mixing up my skincare routine a little and trying out new things. One of those is Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Serum, which feels refreshing on my skin. I’ve been using it under my moisturiser every morning, and it leaves my skin looking healthier and more radiant. I like the fact that it is inspired by microbiome science, and contains prebiotics and probiotics – health-boosting microorganisms that we find in natural foods, too. Probiotics are good for both our gut and our skin.
When I’m feeling low, or my skin is dull and I’m lacking in energy, I look at my diet. Our skin can tell us a lot about what’s going on with our health, and it helps to nourish it from the inside as well as the outside. Good nutrition and gut health go hand in hand, and together they help keep our complexion at its best. Such a large part of creating a healthy body is about creating a healthy microbiome in our digestive systems. It’s about eating a whole range of vegetables and fruits and grains and nuts and seeds, in a wide variety of colours.
Fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut are also brilliant for improving your gut health and, again, are things that are easy and cheap to make at home. Sauerkraut is just cabbage scrunched up with salt and then weighed down so it sits in its own brine. After a week – though you can leave it up to three – you have sauerkraut: super in sandwiches and with salads, as well as in a bowl on the table as a condiment to add to a stew.
These bacteria-rich foods are great for your gut, which means they are good for your health and your skin too. The other fantastic benefit is that they taste really, really good.
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*This article was originally published on theguardian.com as part of the Lancôme Génifique and Guardian Labs 'Skincare gets gutsy' campaign.