Feed Yourself Beautiful?
Sat in the beaming rays of the office SAD light, I thought it apt that my plain flour tortilla wrap lunch was ‘naturally high in vitamin D’, as the labelling told me so. Alongside my breakfast cereal and milk, I figured that vitamin D was easily come by. But I’m missing a lot of things. Vitamin D will help me feel jovial, especially in the winter, but are there any benefits for my looks? The following is a list of our office’s favourite ‘beautifying’ foods (prioritised by popularity of taste).
Dark chocolate – Theobromine for teeth, antioxidants for skin
Dark chocolate ticks a number of conventional beauty boxes. Cocoa is high in a compound called theobromine, which has been shown to protect teeth. Low sugar dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids does the trick. Dark chocolate’s antioxidants improve circulation and therefore amp up the skin’s ‘glow’, providing protection against sun damage in the process.
Salmon – Omega 3 for anti-ageing
Omega-3 is one of the healthiest fats that helps the body to utilise lycopene, which helps protect your skin against the sun’s harmful UVA/B rays, but it can also help keen the skin less dry. Omega-3’s fatty acids are one of the components within skin that form a barrier to moisture loss. Omega-3 is also able to bolster the skin cell membrane, improving skin smoothness and texture, helping to reduce inflammation.
Live yogurt – Zinc for skin & teeth
Live yogurt is a nutrient for clear skin and strong teeth. Calcium’s bacteria being a source of zinc which helps reduce skin redness. An 150g pot of yogurt has 20% of one’s daily zinc intake.
Oats – Polyphenols for skin
Oats contain polyphenols that work as anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, minimising sun-damage and redness. They also contain saponins which have antibacterial properties acting as a cleaning agent to help minimise dirt within pores. Consuming porridge in the morning helps reduce water retention in the body and thus prevents swelling beneath the eyes.
Red peppers – Vitamin C for skin
Red peppers are high in vitamin C and are a source of carotenoids, an antioxidant. Red peppers give the extra boost for skin firmness. Cherries, kiwis, papaya, tomatoes and oranges are also good sources of vitamin C.
Obviously, there are beautifying benefits within food for the skin, teeth, and even hair (tangerines, spinach, Greek yogurt). So why are food marketers not using beautifying benefits to sell their products? ‘Enriched with a natural source of … for [controversial conventional ‘beauty’ standard here].’Is it all a little… well, tabloid? It’s not as simple as that.
Beauty and health arguably go hand in hand; that can also mean that marketing one with the benefits of the other drags across its complications too. Dividing qualities of one’s appearance into the beautiful and the undesirable comes with its social complications – on whose authority is it that red skin is not beautiful? What’s more, if food can cause beauty, does it have a place in the cosmetic, and health category? Doesn’t it already? Where is the boundary to be drawn?
Collagen milk is among a collection of food and drink products promoting their beautification: “enriched with essential vitamins, potent antioxidants and hunger fighting protein”. In fact, collagen is richest in gelatine – so are vegetarians destined to have blemished skin? There is no beauty trend without its controversy.
Marketing these products as beautifying is abundant with issues. What should be done is including natural foods as foundations or features within whole meals and promoting their health benefits – a functioning gut, a strong immune system, absorption of iron.
Health benefits will always outweigh the beauty benefits in the food and drink industry. It’s simply too chaotic a boundary to dissolve.