By Despina Karpathiou
For as long as one can remember, our Greek ancestors have been obsessed with medicine, natural healing and the mythological Goddesses of beauty. Our Ancient Greek goddesses beautified themselves using nothing but natural products sourced from the earth. Paintings of women with glowing skin and long, flowing hair grace the walls of most ancient Greek Temples.
Beauty trends and medicinal healing have evolved drastically since then. Gone are the days where honey was applied to a wound to disinfect it and tomato sauce was slathered onto burns (only Greek people will understand this).
My beloved yiayia (grandmother) once told me that chewing ground coffee beans stops diahhrea. I for one, have never tried this, so I don’t know how effective this is. She also told me I was fat at 14 years old, and at the time I was an athlete. See where this is going?
Old wives tales never cease to amaze me, but God love our Greek grandmothers!
Over the last 50 years, doctors and skin specialists have revolutionised beauty products from containing natural ingredients to containing a plethora of artificial and scientifically ‘proven’ ingredients. Just look at your night cream, how many ingredients does it contain? Probably over 10! And many of us don’t even know what half the ingredients are!
Most people are unaware that the skin is the largest organ in the body and it is extremely porous, absorbing everything that it comes into contact with.
Maybe the answer is to slather ourselves in olive oil and take a long bath in full cream milk like Cleopatra. Or perhaps we should adopt a hippie lifestyle and live off the land, there's nothing wrong with that!
Jokes aside, good health is about balance and knowing what to feed your body when it needs it. It’s about healing ourselves from the inside out.
Starting from the inside, we should begin by looking at our diet and drinking habits. The body is made up of 60% water. Many people are severely dehydrated on a daily basis and don’t even realise it. The average woman needs approximately 2.1L of water per day while the average male needs 2.6L per day. This amount is only a guideline, if you work out every day or have a physically demanding job, then you need to adjust your water intake accordingly.
We should also look at the food we eat if we want to improve the overall health of our body and skin.
Let’s talk about “Skin superfoods”. And by superfoods, I don’t mean stuffing 2kg of kale into a juicer and trying not to puke while we force ourselves to gulp the bitter powdery liquid in the hopes we’ll be rewarded with abs like Jennifer Lopez. “Skin superfoods” can be found in the food that we eat everyday, or should be eating!
In combination with adequate water intake, we should be feeding our bodies healthy fats like fish oil and avocado. Both are high in natural fats and Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega Fatty Acids are amazing for skin health! Greek yoghurt, honey (manuka or organic) are also incredible for your skin.
The ancient Greeks used yoghurt, honey and olive oil to nourish their skin.
- Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory, making it fantastic for acne-prone skin.
- Greek yoghurt (unsweetened) is also an incredible natural moisturiser which contains probiotics, proteins, vitamins and minerals, making it great as an anti-ageing mask.
- Olive oil is a rich natural moisturiser. The natural fatty acids found in Olive oil can completely revitalise dry skin and also help boost the skin’s cell renewal process. Those who suffer from eczema can greatly benefit from olive oil.
Another thing we should do to help our bodies and skin is to move! Breaking a sweat on a regular basis can do incredible things for your body. Going to the gym is also good for your skin, by getting the blood pumping and sending more blood through our arteries in turn allows for greater blood circulation and let’s not forget, endorphins, the ‘feel good’ hormone that floods our bodies after a workout. Nothing better than that!
Instead of looking to drugs as a first resort to ‘fix’ our ailments, we should first look at nature to help us. Getting outside, dancing till we can’t dance no more, breathing fresh air, getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water and tweaking our diet to include lots of healthy fats and protein, can do wonders for your health and overall happiness!