How to live healthy and have perfect skin?

Skin is the largest organ of one’s body. When you take care of your own health, your skin is automatically taken care of. Due to my quest for beautiful and glowing skin, I have been studying about the way to achieve it since at a very young age. Very soon, I came to realise that it all comes down to staying healthy, very healthy. As my interest moved towards healthy living, I have been reaching out to books, articles, research, to inform myself more on health and fitness topics. After years of constant reading and self-educating, I can share with you that it comes down to three key areas below:

1. Food

Nutrition is clearly the most important factor you can take control of to affect how well you live, whether you will be active and strong or sedentary and frail as you age.

The recent appearance of trend on different type of diets such as vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, low carb, slow carb, have created more confusion than informing me the ‘right’ diet to stay healthy and becoming healthier. However, with in-depth reading and research through books, which is usually backed by scientific studies, I started to observe some similarity across different studies and research by different food scientists, and can simplify it to three guiding principles on healthy eating:

 a. Foods that you can eat as much as you can:

Hands down the foods that one should eat the most for a healthy eating diet are whole foods. Whole food is food in its natural form such as vegetable, fruit and nuts. The studies recommend 9 servings a day of vegetables and fruits. This sounds like a lot of vegetables and fruits to be consumed a day but blending them into a smoothie can help you to increase your vegetables and fruits intake to the recommended level. Veggies and fruits smoothie is my daily go-to breakfast to provide me sufficient macro and micronutrients to start my day with good energy. Definitely worth giving it a try!

b. Foods that you should limit your consumption:

Though meats and seafoods are also whole foods and should be good for your general health and a good source of protein, however, the concern with meat (except fish) is the presence of animal fat (saturated fat), which is not ideal to be incorporated in a healthy diet. This animal fat also presents in dairy product such as milk and cheese so should be consumed minimally as well, unless they are low fat. When considering good protein source, we should limit it to lean protein such as lean meats and fish. Proteins intake should be low but sufficient. You can determine your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein in gram by multiplying your body weight in kg by 0.8. So if you weight 70 kg, your RDA for protein is 56 grams. If you are trying to build lean muscle, your protein consumption can be higher.

The next food category that should be limited is high starch foods such as rice and potatoes. These are the foods with high GI that can spike up your blood sugar quickly. 

c. Foods that you should quit eating or only occasional

It is no doubt that processed food such as frozen pizza, instant ramen noodle, breakfast cereals, does not do good to your body so it is best that we are quitting it.

Refined carb and refined sugar such as bread, cake, pasta are also simple carbs that only contain sugar without any nutrient should be avoided or only reserved for occasional treat. Besides, deep fried foods or high fat animal products that are high in saturated and trans-fat should also be avoided.

In a perfect world, this healthy diet recommendation sounds all good, but in reality, how can one maintain this type of strict diet that might not be that enjoyable for most people? After all, we all still want to have fun eating delicious foods. French fries, cake, ice cream, burger, they are so hard to resist! You probably shouldn’t! While having the discipline to maintain clean healthy diet is key, I believe making this diet enjoyable is crucial as well to maintain it for the long run. So, eat the cake when you feel like you need a treat after a long running session. For me, I find that 5 days cleans diet; 2 days weekend indulgence in a week gives me a happy balance. So, try to find your happy balance.

2. Exercise/Fitness

To achieve optimal health, we should stay active, EVERYDAY. The good news is, achieving this is easier than what you imagine. Studies shown that even light exercise such as walking or strolling on the street will significantly improve your health level. Even better try to walk fast enough to speed up your heart rate but not so high that you are still able to talk. Do this for 45 minutes to 1 hour a day and that is sufficient to promote sustainable health. If time allows and convenient, try to mix up both aerobic exercise and strength training in the week.

3. Mind

It is no doubt that having a healthy mind is inseparable from a healthy lifestyle. Being optimistic and having the ability to find happiness in little things in life such as eating your favorite foods or walking at the beach, are one of the essential elements to have a healthy mind.

These have been my guiding principles of healthy living.

What about skincare?

Though healthy living contributes significantly to beautiful skin, one can’t deny that beauty products are essential for maintaining good skin. When it comes to skin care, I also have a simple guiding principle. The simple way of having good skin is to make sure that the skin is cleaned, hydrated, and always protected from the harmful UV sunlight. As such, a cleanser that cleanses your pores properly, a moisturizer that provides long lasting hydration and a sun cream should do most of the job. If you want to have extra boost on hydration, just include hydrating face masks into your skin care routine once or twice a week.