Carla Oates is a former beauty editor, who worked with nutritionists, chemists and naturopaths to start The Beauty Chef – a range of liquids, powders and a cookbook designed to rejuvenate the skin. Here she shares her insights on eating and drinking your way to better skin.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the path that led you to launch the Beauty Chef.
My interest in natural health and beauty began as a teenager when I suffered from eczema and allergies and went and saw a naturopath who eliminated certain foods from my diet and introduced others. I saw a profound difference in my skin.
I had been researching the benefits of plants and natural biological processes such as lacto-fermentation for around 10 years and was writing in the area of natural health and beauty. I had published a book called Feeding Your Skin with Penguin (in 2004) and had a DIY beauty column for the Sunday Telegraph for eight years as well as being the natural beauty editor for Wellbeing Mag for 12 years (which I still am). During this time, I made all my own skincare from scratch from plants and organic foods and was giving them to friends and family to use. I created quite a demand that grew to friends of friends. It seemed a natural progression to create a brand.
One thing that really stood out, too, was the difference in people’s skin when they ate my lacto-fermented vegetables. People were addicted to my fermented veggies and kefir coconut water – hence why The Beauty Chef started with my lacto-fermented inner beauty superfood powder, Glow.
Why do you believe skin health starts from the belly?
I am a big believer that beauty begins in the belly – that gut health is paramount for healthy, radiant skin and overall wellbeing.
The first step to healthy, radiant skin is balancing digestive health. Our gut is where 70 percent of the immune system lies, where we metabolise hormones, where we make detoxifying enzymes and where we make nutrients, and so much of what goes on in our digestive system can impact our skin. The skin, hair and nails are the last places to receive nutrients, as they go to more important organs first, so nutrition is important for glowing skin, and fermented foods give you dense, super charged nutrition.
Tell us about your inner beauty product range, what are the best products to start with?
I would start with GLOW Inner Beauty Powder as it is an excellent all round formula – for skin and health. If your gut is out of balance, start with half a dose and build up over the following weeks to a full dose. As you are suddenly putting all of this goodness into your tummy, it may take a few weeks to adjust.
How should we take them?
All our Inner Beauty Products can be enjoyed with water, juice, in smoothies, sprinkled over cereal, in yogurt or in raw bars or bliss balls. You can visit our recipe page for inspiration.
What are key ingredients one should look for when purchasing ingestible beauty products?
Prebiotics and probiotics – work to improve gut health and boost your immune system. They also support the body’s detoxification and elimination pathways. Probiotics directly neutralise certain chemicals and toxins so that they don’t have to be processed through the liver. This helps to ease the burden on the liver and the skin. A happy gut also means a healthy immune system, healthier skin, better absorption of nutrients, metabolism of hormones etc. Found in all of The Beauty Chef products.
Vitamin C – helps protect your body from oxidative damage, important for immune health and helps boost your body’s levels of our main antioxidant – glutathione – an antioxidant your body produces to protect itself against free radical damage, inflammation and cellular ageing. Vitamin C helps to synthesise collagen in the body.
Vitamin E – helps your body recycle glutathione which also helps fight inflammation, one of the main culprits when it comes to premature aging and reduces the impact of oxidative stress.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids – reduces inflammation and helps protect your skin from free radical damage.
Zinc – contributes to normal skin functions and may help with a variety of skin problems from acne to improved wound healing. Zinc is also great for strengthening hair and nails and can ward off colds and aid the immune system.
Vitamin D – The UVB rays responsible for helping our bodies make the immune boosting vitamin D are low and sometimes non-existent in certain areas in winter. Which is why it is important that we get vitamin D from food or a supplement. You can also get small amounts of vitamin D from fatty fish and cod liver oil. And if you do find you need to get a blood test for other reasons – it’s worth asking to have your vitamin D levels tested to see if you are deficient. This fat-soluble “sunshine vitamin” also helps you absorb calcium to form and maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D has beneficial effects on moods, immunity, diabetes and glucose metabolism, heart health, hypertension and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It has also been linked to the prevention of some cancers.
Minerals – generally – Because our soils are over farmed and often depleted in minerals, a lot of people are not getting enough minerals which are so important as co-factors for vitamins to work in the body. Minerals are vital for cellular health, overall health and skin health – for helping to repair skin cells, to energise skin cells, for elasticity etc.
Digestive Enzymes – Many people have poor digestive health and as we age digestive function declines – both mean that we are not making the digestive enzymes efficiently to break down the food we consume properly. Digestive enzymes are very helpful for people with poor digestion, helping that the nutrients in their food can be broken down and utilisted by the body and help to prevent hard to break down food irritating the gut.
Broad spectrum antioxidants – Each antioxidant in the rainbow of foods we eat has its own function and protects us from a specific free radical. Which is why it’s important to eat many different wholefoods – bright fruits and vegetables, green tea, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, seeds etc. All of The Beauty Chef’s products are rich in antioxidants from Certified Organic wholefoods.