As the saying goes, you are what you eat.
Though long after that phrase was coined, we’re finally starting to realise how true it is as we learn more about the critical importance of the gut biome. A healthy gut is good news for a whole host of health ailments and can even alleviate depression, and, because maybe we’re all a little vain, it also translates to a glowing complexion.
It turns out we are what we drink, too. The relatively new ‘beauty drink’ industry, now called nutricosmetics (encompassing pills and powders, too) is estimated to snowball to a combined $8.4billion category in the next three years. The promise is to make you beautiful from the inside out.
Imedeen was first to market with ‘beauty from within’ oral supplements as many as 30 years ago, and most vitamin brands have offered a ‘hair skin and nails’ supplement since — but the specific focus on supplementation, namely liquids, for beauty purposes has skyrocketed in the last three years, with a plethora of brands launching solely for that purpose.
Fermented foods are not a silver bullet, but when added to a healthy diet, have the potential to make it even healthier.
The logic makes sense. Topical creams and serums can’t possibly offer visible, long term improvements to the skin in the way that addressing the complexion from the inside can. Most skin care products have trouble getting past the epidermis — the top layers of skin — when true skin health happens in the deeper layers. By drinking these supplements you’re promised healthier, clearer skin, strong nails and longer hair.
Aussie Carla Oats, known as The Beauty Chef, was one of the first on this wagon when she launched her range of ‘inner beauty’ supplements back in 2012. She’s since launched a cookbook, developed topical products to complement her existing range and has won a bunch of awards.
“I have embraced the time-honoured art of fermentation for the clever way that it naturally bio-activates nutrients in ingredients to make them more available for the body and skin to use. We employ a unique and natural fermentation process, backed by twenty years of research to make powerful and active extracts for our bioactive skincare that is truly good for you,” Oats said in a brand statement.
But Oats isn’t the only one — other Australian nutricosmetics have enjoyed impressive success in the past few years. Elle MacPherson launched Welleco — a range of alkalising greens, plant protein powders and most recently a sleep tea.
Vidaglow, a brand out of Sydney, offers a range of supplements heroing marine collagen, which promises to nourish hair skin and nails. Another brand, Proplenish, also featuring marine collagen, is used in the same way — a sachet of powder added to a drink daily.
Chanelle Louise created Clik, a rose water drink, to help her partner after he suffered a traumatic brain injury, as the therapeutic properties of rose water such as antioxidants help calm the brain.
Clik contains certified Organic Rosa damascena, Organic Hibiscus Extract, Pure Vanilla Extract and retails at $79 a bottle.
More brands are launching everyday, but not all is created equal. The efficacy of these products come down the the ingredients and their quality and potency. While nothing can replace a healthy diet, these supplements can be a way to consume nutrients which have a positive effect on the body, skin included.
Many of these products contain similar ingredients, so we asked Chloe McLeod, accredited practicing dietitian, and Alexandra Parker and Anna Debenham of The Biting Truth to break down these common ingredients and what they do.
“Dunaliella salina is one of the highest natural sources of dietary carotenoids, in particular beta-carotene. It may protect the skin from sun damage by providing double the skin’s protection against sunburn. One study showed this when 24mg of beta-carotene derived from Dunaliella salina was taken daily for more than 10 weeks,” McLeod said.
“Maqui berries are rich in the anthocyanins, which gives them their dark purple colour and powerful antioxidant capabilities. Antioxidants protect the skin by limiting the production of free radicals, which can damage skin cells. Maqui berries also have anti-inflammatory qualities, which further act to enhance our overall health and keep our skin looking youthful,” Parker said.
“These tasty little berries contain high levels of antioxidants, which play a powerful role in helping to fight disease and oxidative stress within our bodies, protecting us from getting sick. Antioxidants can also assist in reducing the signs associated with ageing. These nutritional powerhouses also contain Vitamin C, which is important for making the collagen that keeps our skin firm, bouncy and wrinkle-free!” Debenham said.
Queen Garnet Plum
“Queen Garnet Plum is very high in anthocyanins. These compounds help repair damaged cells and promote protection against free radicals,” McLeod said.
“There are many health benefits associated with acai berries including its ability to fight damaging free-radicals, increase energy levels, boost immunity and promote good digestion. However, there is no definitive scientific evidence based on studies on humans to support the use of acai for a specific health related purpose,” Parker said.
“The research around marine collagen is looking very promising, but should be used in conjunction with antioxidants. On their own, there is some concern regarding oxidative stress, which is connected to collagen synthesis,” McLeod said.
Fermented fruits and vegetables
“During the process of fermentation, microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or fungi convert compounds such as sugars and starch into alcohol and acids. For example, starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative. The transformation of sugars and starches enhances the natural, beneficial bacteria in food, known as probiotics,” Parker said.
“Fermentation can increase the availability of vitamins and minerals for our bodies to absorb, for example Vitamin K, which is essential in aiding the body’s process of blood clotting and can also help to heal certain skin conditions such as stretch marks. Fermented foods are not a silver bullet, but when added to a healthy diet, have the potential to make it even healthier,” Debenham said.