January 15th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 12

chocolate curls

Day 12- Chocolate is a good thing!

Throughout the challenge we talked about antioxidants, those compounds found in whole foods that “POW” out or neutralize the bad guys – the free radicals and prevent oxidative stress!  Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that have only one electron instead of two.  They scavenge around looking for electrons to steal, damaging cells along the way.  Foods that are rich in antioxidant are those that provide the needed oxygen molecule and squelch the free radicals.  We also discussed the ORAC scale, and guess what food is at the top of the list?  Chocolate!

Yes, chocolate is on the list!  Now don’t get too carried away here and think that we are suggesting that you eat Snickers bars every day to reach your heath goals.  When you add milk fat and sugar to the chocolate you neutralize the benefits.   The antioxidants in chocolate come from regular (not Dutch processed) cocoa.  Cocoa contains flavonoids, which are increased even more when heated.  An occasional cup of “real” hot cocoa is a good thing.  Dark chocolate is also great (70% or higher). 

Today’s challenge:  try some dark chocolate or cocoa powder in your diet.   Some ideas:

  • Add some to your chia pudding recipe
  • Mix a tablespoon of raw cocoa powder into your morning smoothie
  • Stir into your natural almond or peanut butter and dip apple slices in it for a healthy and delicious snack
  • Sprinkle over your Greek yogurt
  • You can find some additional ways here

Check out this recipe for Mocha Chocolate Chunk Chia Seed Brownies– Healthy and delicious!


January 14th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 11

Day 11 –  Antioxidants in topical skincare

Skin aging comes from two sources – chronological aging which is simply a result of our time on this earth, and extrinsic skin aging, which is the result of external factors and environmental influence — mainly chronic sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation but also smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, antioxidants and fats all play important roles in maintaining healthy skin. Star players on the nutrition team to fight extrinsic aging are the B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, lutein, lycopene, genestein, ECGC, and resveratrol. Skin regeneration requires these nutrients throughout life, and in increased amounts under certain conditions such as exposure to free radicals and UV radiation.  We need to ingest these compounds in the right amounts in order to nourish and protect the skin.  Growing research also supports the benefits of topical application of these same compounds to offer benefits from the outside in. 

The challenge for today is to incorporate botanically-based skincare products into your daily regimen, particularly those with the antioxidants discussed above.   Take a good look at the products you are using and be sure that you are nourishing your skin from the outside in as well as inside out!  A great resource for finding clean skincare is EWG.org’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

For a DIY Skincare Product, try these 5 at home Antioxidant Face Masks.




January 13th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 10

Day 10 – Antioxidants prevent skin damage

Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation, also referred to as oxidative stress. They are nature’s way of protecting your cells from damage.   In this process of oxidation, free radicals breakdown skin tissue, speeding up the aging process.  Antioxidant-rich foods are plant-based and their protective compounds are referred to as phytochemicals, meaning derived from plants.  The best way to ensure that one is getting adequate antioxidants is to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day –remember challenge day 1?

All fruits and vegetables are good for us; however, certain plant foods pack a stronger antioxidant punch than others.  Scientists at the USDA have developed a scale for measuring an antioxidant foods ability to neutralize free radicals, called the ORAC score, short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The higher a food’s ORAC score, the more powerful it is in combating age-related degeneration and disease.  Foods with the highest ORAC scores include spices, cocoa powder (unsweetened) and richly colored fruits and vegetables. 

The challenge for today – Take a look at the ORAC scale and consume some foods with high ORAC values when eating your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables.  Note that most spices have high ORAC values.

For Breakfast today try this Acai Berry Bowl!

acai-berry-bowl-recipe-e1435000937681-660x848And for dinner this spiced red lentil, tomato and kale soup!


January 12th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 9

Day 9 – Nourishing the flora that lives on your skin.

Many people don’t realize that our skin is alive with beneficial bacteria, similar to what is found in our gut (aka digestive system from start to finish).  These skin microbiota serve a vitally important role and act in an anti-biotic manner where they prevent the adherence of harmful bacteria to the skin, while enhancing immune function.  Just as the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics can cause GI issues when we take them to treat infections, the same applies to the skin.  When we strip away our healthy skin bacteria we open the door for bad bacteria to settle in.   Similarly, when we are experiencing some sort of internal inflammation or GI disturbance we see the signs on our skin in the form of rashes and redness. These two complex microbiomes are related and communicate with each other.   Making sure to feed our beneficial skin and gut bacteria by eating probiotic-rich foods and supplements along with fiber rich foods, while avoiding excess sugar in the diet will help ensure that the good strains thrive.  Recent research is also pointing to the benefits of topical probiotics to reduce skin inflammation and inflammatory skin conditions such as acne.   Our vit A clear serum contains lactobacillus ferment, a probiotic which has been shown in research to reduce inflammation and bacteria on the skin.  Application of a topical probiotic, combined with oral ingestion through diet or supplementation is a great way to ensure that you are nourishing your skin flora to keep a good balance.

The Challenge –  Take inventory of the products you use on your skin on a regular basis.  Are you over-stripping your skin with harsh chemicals?  How can you add some topical pro and pre biotics to your skincare routine?  Try making a small change and see how your skin responds.


  • Mix up and apply a weekly yogurt face mask. Try this DIY.


  • Try products with topical pre- and pro-biotics.  For prebiotics look for fructooligosaccharides or other oligosaccharides on the label.  For probiotics, lactobacillus or Enterococcus faecalis SL-5 are both good choices.
    • Our vitA clear serum™ now contains probiotics. It gently exfoliates, revitalizes and restores vibrancy, evens skin tone and texture — leaving the skin looking lifted and smooth. This serum helps to modulate oil secretions and encourages healthy cell turnover, critical for acne management and anti-aging. Probiotic Lactobacillus Ferment found in this serum helps strengthen the skin’s barrier and replenishes healthy bacteria, while crowding out bad bacteria such as the P. acnes which cause acne breakouts.
  • Break open a probiotic/prebiotic supplement capsule and mix into your favorite nighttime moisturizer for a night time probiotic treatment.
  • Do not use antibacterial soaps, scrubs and gels on the face or anywhere on the body.

January 11th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 8

Day 8 – Feeding Your Probiotics with Prebiotic foods

The term probiotic means “for life”.  Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be found in various foods and supplements. When you eat probiotics, you add these healthy bacteria to your intestinal tract.  Probiotic bacteria like lactobacilli are naturally found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha tea  and yogurt. Some functional foods will have added probiotics to enhance the nutritional value of the food. 

 Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that make their way through our digestive system and help good bacteria grow and flourish. Unlike probiotics they are not living microorganisms.  Prebiotics are the “food” that helps to nourish the probiotics.  Prebiotics mostly come from carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides. You don’t digest them, so the oligosaccharides remain in the digestive tract and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Sources of oligosaccharides include fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, soy), and whole grains (i.e. brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, etc).  The best way to get prebiotics into the system is with these food sources.

Are you meeting the challenge this week by ingesting probiotics from food or a supplement every day? 

The challenge this week – Feed your flora!  Let’s add to our healthy skin challenge dietary enhancements by including some prebiotic foods and really boost your skin’s defenses against inflammation and bring out the healthy glow from the inside out!

Try this Quinoa Bowl With Artichokes, Spring Onions and Peas for dinner tonight for a healthy source of prebiotic foods!



Don’t forget to share your progress and inspiration, post photos and status updates, and tag your post with ‪#‎HealthySkinChallenge‬ on our event page for a chance to win dmSkincare prizes!


January 10th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 7

Day 7 – How our gut and skin are connected

The skin supports a delicate ecosystem of microorganisms, including yeast and bacteria.  One square inch of skin holds up to 500 million microorganisms!  (Equal to about the size of a pea)  When most of us think of microorganisms we think of bad things, but some, called probiotics help keep the bad microbes in check and maintain healthy skin.  Your gut is also lined with bacteria – both good and bad.  Many nutritionists believe that your gut health is reflected in your skin.  When gut flora are out of balance people experience allergies and overall inflammation.  Antibiotic use, stress, travel, and poor diet can disrupt the balance of the skin and gut bacteria and cause red, puffy skin, rashes, inflammation, and even acne and psoriasis.  A proper diet, rich in pre- and probiotics can help maintain your healthy bacterial balance and in turn give you healthy skin. 

The challenge this week:  Consume 1 serving of probiotic rich foods or a supplement every day.

What foods contain probiotics and how can you reach your goal?

  • Yogurt (check label for live active cultures)dessert-447165_1920
  • Keifer
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso, tempeh and natto (fermented soy foods)
  • Kimchi
  • Buttermilk
  • Fortified foods like  cottage cheese and/or other foods fortified with probiotics
  • Probiotic supplements


For a delicious breakfast try this Blackberry and yogurt breakfast smoothie!



January 9th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 6

Day 6 – Choosing the right oils

As we discussed a few days ago, our body needs certain essential fatty acids to be taken in via diet.  The issue is that in general Americans are getting too much of the Omega 6 kind and not enough Omega 3.  That said, we need some Omega 6 and oil is a staple for many in food preparation and dressing.   Today we will talk about how to choose a high quality, healthy oil and which ones are best in specific applications.

The method by which the oil is extracted from its plant source matters.  Oils can be extracted either chemically or mechanically in either high heat or no heat settings. Below is a breakdown of the main methods and what to look for when you are shopping for oils.  Organic, GMO free are always the best choice as a rule.

Expeller Pressed – in this processing method the oil is literally squeezed or pressed from the plant with a vice-like mechanical device.  Sometimes heat can be generated by this process when extracting from plants with hard shells.  Since the pressing only yields 60-70% of the oil, some companies use chemicals as a second step to extract the remaining oil. This is the oldest method of extraction and except in cases where heat or chemicals are used in the second step, it yields a clean, wholesome oil.

Cold Pressed – this method is similar to expeller pressing, only measures are taken to ensure that temperatures do not exceed 120 degrees F.  Cold pressed oils are the best choice as they retain the best aroma, flavor and nutritional value.

Chemical Extraction – The chemical process soaks the plant with a toxic solvent, such as hexane, to pull the oil from the source. The producer must then refine the oil to remove the toxin before the oil is fit for cooking.  This is the least expensive and least flavorful & nutritious oil.

Which oil to choose?   Olive oil is a nutritious and delicious oil and a great choice for daily use.  A caution about cooking though, when olive oil is heated to high temperatures, it begins to denature and lose some nutritional value, so use it for dressing foods more than cooking.  Good choices for cooking oils include coconut, avocado, sesame and sunflower oils.


Today’s challenge:  Continue with the first 5 days of healthy lifestyle changes plus add 2 servings (1 TBSP each) of healthy oil to your daily intake.  Olive oil can be drizzled over salads or freshly steamed or roasted vegetables or try sautéing your colorful vegetable medley in coconut or sesame oil. It will taste great, as the oil enhances the flavor and also nutritional absorption of the antioxidants in the vegetables.


January 8th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 5

Day 5  –  Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a unique fat. It is a saturated fat, which many equate with being bad for health when in fact it is not.  Saturated fats play an important role in the diet and should be consumed in moderation.  One special attribute about coconut oil is that it is a rare dietary source of medium chain triglyceride (MCT), one that is easily absorbed by the body and used for energy. Research is building to support the use of MCT’s from coconut oil for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as they have been identified as a preferred fuel for the brain as we age.  In addition to the benefits of improved cognitive function, coconut oil has a high smoke point and is a great choice for cooking, asit will not denature under high heat.

Coconut oil is also used topically in a multitude of ways —  as a body moisturizer, cuticle cream, mixed with course sugar for a body scrub, or applied to baby’s bottom to prevent diaper rash. It’s a healthy alternative to chemical-laden skincare products which typically use petroleum as a key ingredient.coconut-895390_1920

Choosing a high quality coconut oil is imperative.   When shopping, choose:

  • Virgin vs. refined
  • Cold pressed or direct micro expelled vs. expeller pressed
  • Organic vs. conventional
  • Glass jar vs. plastic jar

Today’s challenge:  Incorporate high quality coconut oil into your eating and skincare routine by replacing an unhealthy fat with a serving of coconut oil and/or using coconut oil to replace a petroleum based product like Vaseline or Aquaphor. 

Try these Coconut Waffles with Mango for breakfast this morning!


January 7th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 4

Day 4 –  Healthy fats for a healthy glow! 

For many years now fat has been villanized. Fat is not bad, it’s a matter of making good choices when it comes to eating fats.  Each skin cell is surrounded by two layers of fat that make up the cell walls and is known as the phospholipid bilayer. Dietary fat is critical to create well hydrated, glowing skin.

Problems arise when we are out of balance in terms of the types of fats we eat.  Our body requires certain fats called “essential fatty acids”. There are two main types – Omega 3 and Omega 6.  Omega 3s come from foods like fatty fish, fish oil supplements, walnuts, soy, dark green leafies, flax and chia seeds.  Vegetable sources of Omega 3 are less potent because they are in the form of ALA which must go through a conversion process to become Omega 3, but are still a great choice.  Omega 6 fats come from vegetable oils (think fried foods) and in almost all processed crackers, cookies and other packaged foods. When these fats are out of balance an inflammatory response is created.  The ideal balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fats is 1:2.

Today’s challenge is to reduce Omega 6 in your diet and increase intake of Omega 3’s. 

Some ideas: 

  • Sprinkle milled flax or chia on your salad or smoothie
  • Choose salmon for dinner instead of chicken or beef and eat if over a big heap of sauteed spinach


  • Snack on a handful of walnuts with an apple to tide you over between lunch and dinner
  • Challenge yourself to eat whole foods vs. foods that come in a box to cut down on Omega 6 fats.

Don’t forget to continue with the first 3 days of the challenge by eating 5 to 7 servings of colorful fruits and vegetable each day, focusing on a serving of crucifers each day.

Here are some amazing Chia Seed Pudding Recipes to try!



January 6th, 2016

Healthy Skin Challenge Day 3

Day 3 of our Healthy Skin Challenge – Focus on crucifers!

Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables have some powerful attributes, including the reported ability to prevent cancer and regulate hormones. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in zinc, vitamins A, B, C, D and E and scientists have isolated a constituent in cruciferous vegetables called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) that is especially beneficial to estrogen metabolism. When I3C combines with stomach acid it creates 3,3-Diindolylmethane, or DIM. The metabolism of DIM promotes healthy estrogen metabolism which many report eases hormonal acne flares and other symptoms of peri-menopause like hot flashes and breast tenderness.

Read more on Cruciferous vegetables here:

Today’s challenge is to continue to focus on eating 5-7 colorful fruits and veggies, and to make sure that one serving comes from the cruciferous family.

Try this broccoli, Brussels sprouts and arugula salad for a salad packed with cruciferous vegetables!


Don’t forget to share your progress and inspiration, post photos and status updates, and tag your post with ‪#‎HealthySkinChallenge‬ on our event page for a chance to win dmSkincare prizes!