Interview with Dana James
The articles I write in conjunction with our partners at Smart Beauty Guide usually focus on purely the external, namely what treatments are available for our beautification.
But from interviewing the many board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeons that I do, they all echo a consistent, underlying theme: the healthier you are, the better candidate you are for any sort of treatment. The fact is that we can’t put self-care completely on the back burner and expect to have a surgeon suddenly make up for our all of our health indiscretions. Surgeons are good, but they’re not magicians. We have to show up for our bodies- regardless if aesthetic treatments are on our radar or not.
With that in mind, I wanted to look at a more holistic way of beautifying ourselves. For this I turned to food coach Dana James, who, for all of her science degrees may just as well be called scientist. A beauty scientist.
First I started by asking Dana to help us sort through some of the beauty buzzwords filling magazine and blogs right now. She also shares her 6 steps to getting beautiful, inside and out. Hold tight, guys. This one’s a goodie!
First, let's talk collagen. I feel like every beauty product tries to tout it as some sort of transformative ingredient. We know that: 1) we produce it naturally, 2) it's responsible for keeping skin full and wrinkle-free, and 3) we lose collagen as we age.
Understandably consumers want to try to get it back in the body, but does supplementing with collagen work?
No matter the source it comes from, when you ingest protein (through beauty powders, supplements or food) it is broken down into amino acids and goes to an amino acid pool to be used as the body needs it- for keratin, collagen but also enzymes, neurotransmitters, and detoxification processes. The benefit to the healthier person is that the less they need to use the protein for detoxifying and muscle repair, the more they can use the amino acids for hair, skin and nails.
If we regularly supplemented with collagen, would the body reach optimal levels, and would it eventually show on our face, stimulating our ability to produce collagen naturally?
Yes, absolutely! But collagen is not just made from amino acids, it also requires other nutrients such as vitamin c, sulfur, omega 3's, biotin and silica. Some vegan protein powders are sold as "beauty fuel" because they contain amino acids and these nutrients to support the body's repair and collagen production.
In terms of detoxifying, I've heard that Activated Charcoal helps process and remove toxins from foods and chemicals we consume. Is there any evidence that all that toxin-removing activity could improve our face? …Diminish wrinkles, breakouts, even-out completion?
The problem with activated charcoal is that it also removes minerals. If you need to detoxify, there are better ways that directly target toxins in the body without also removing minerals.
1. Get more antioxidants from plant-based foods such as carrots, beets, apricots, nectarines.
2. Consume amino acids from a clean protein source such as wild salmon, trout, grass-fed beef or organic eggs.
3. Sulfur from cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
4. Eat herbs such as parsley and cilantro which bring up heavy metals and help remove them from the body.
To quote your site, "beauty doesn't come from eating ugly food." What are your top 3 recommended foods for skin health? Are there any that really help get a glow going?
1. Vegan protein powder for amino acids, which will help produce collagen.
2. Nuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds for Omega 3 & 6. Omegas 3 & 6 are important because they help to create the cell membrane. If the membrane loses its integrity, it can't hold water, and can't detoxify.
3. Papaya for vitamin C, which helps create collagen. Papaya also contains Vitamin A which is used to help exfoliate internally.
Wait, exfoliate internally?
Yes. Topical creams are just recreating what should be happening internally.
Is there a holistic health routine, product or treatment that you recommend to increase our natural glow and decrease the appearance of stress (dull skin, fine lines or wrinkles)?
Yes, it's truly living a healthily life. I share many more details on my site, but essentially, it's a six-part system:
1. Diet. To quote Dana, "beauty doesn't come from eating ugly foods."
2. Meditation - to mitigate stress [and all the havoc that stress hormones can wreak on the body}.
3. Sleep. Get it!
4. Connection - we need to be connected to, and surrounded by, people we LOVE.
5. Movement – Yoga, walking, whatnot. Move the body.
6. Balance the body biochemically by working with a functional medicine practitioner, e.g. restoring gut microflora, rebalancing neurotransmitters levels, and replenishing the body with nutrients that through stress have been depleted.
Fascinating! There it is: the way to get beautiful, inside and out.
Learn more about Dana's programs and coaching at FoodCoachNYC.com.
This post is presented to the Girl Around Town audience in partnership with
Smart Beauty Guide and The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.