05 September 2011

Health and beauty from the inside out: Plants that heal and nourish the body


As I was flipping through a magazine the other day, there was a common theme I was seeing in the newest beauty product ads...they all contained super foods! I know that for years we have been seeing shampoos, lotions, and potions infused with things like peaches, strawberries, and coconut. And recently, more exotic fruits such as goji and acai. But I am talking about FOOD in the products. There was a hair mask with quinoa, a face lotion with tumeric, a toner with beetroot, and a shampoo with brown rice. As I pondered these products, I couldn't help but wonder.... do people know that they can actually EAT these foods too? And most importantly, do they realize that consuming them in their diet will have an even more profound effect than slathering the expensive lotions on their skin??

Now don't get me wrong, I applaud beauty lines for moving towards more natural ingredients in their products, in fact I am thrilled. I just hope consumers understand that it's what you put IN your body that has the greatest impact when it comes to health, wellness, and beauty.

Let's take a look at a few of those ingredients:

Tumeric: Does the average person even know what tumeric is, let alone include it in their diet? My guess is that if you're reading this, you're probably not the average person when it comes to health and wellness, and you know and love tumeric. But I would venture to guess that you are in the minority. So for those who don't know, turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both Chinese and Indian medicine. Tumeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, a liver detoxifier, a potent anti-inflammatory (that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects), speeds up wound healing, and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.

Quinoa: There are no words to describe just how much I love this pseudograin. It is an amazing food that is sadly lacking in the standard Amercian diet. Not only is quinoa high in protein, but the protein it supplies is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids.Quinoa is especially rich in the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. Quinoa is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. It is beneficial in treating migraine headaches, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

Beets: This colorful often over-looked root vegetable is a potent liver detoxifier, and contains powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers. Beets are loaded with zinc and vitamin C—nutrients that boost the immune system and the production of skin-firming tissues collagen and elastin.

These are only a small sampling of the wonderful plants that Mother Earth has provided us with to nourish and heal our bodies. It is my hope that as the names of these foods start to appear more often on bottled and packaged products, consumers will take the initiative to educate themselves on what they are putting in their bodies. And will start to not only use these plant-based products but will also begin to consume these amazing gifts from nature first-hand, in their whole, natural and delicious form!

Lori Zito | @LoriZito
Lori is an animal-loving, life-loving vegan who is passionate about spreading the message of better health through a vegan diet. She works as a certified holistic health and nutrition coach, a yoga instructor, and a physical therapist. Learn more at her website Live In The Balance and follow her on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/4nitsirk