Those who know me well know I am absolutely obsessed with raw nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and berries. In fact, I always keep pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and a variety of nuts in the house and pack them in my bag daily for easy work snacks. And, do not get me started on airport food – it is just the worst. I am on an airplane every weekend for work, so eating healthy can be challenging. This is why bringing my own snacks has become a habit in my book.
Almonds are one of the most easily accessible type of nuts. You can find raw almonds in any local grocery store, at gas stations, and convenience stores. But, do not let that fool you – they are a super food. Almonds contain vitamins B2 and E, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Most importantly, a one-fourth cup serving contains 49 percent of your recommended daily allowance of biotin. What is biotin? Biotin, also known as B7, is vital for the proper function of the nervous system and musculature and for maintaining cellular processes like growth, metabolism, and energy. It is frequently referred to as the “beauty vitamin” because of its restorative properties for the skin. When we lack biotin, our skin is the first to show the signs of a deficiency. According to the Dermal Institute, these are the symptoms of a B7 deficiency:
- Red, scaly rash around the nose, mouth, and eyes
- Thinning hair, sometimes with shedding and loss of pigment (graying hair)
- Possible depression, fatigue, and hallucinations
- Tingling sensations in the arms and legs
- Muscle cramps after exercise
- Possible high cholesterol and heart problems
- Cradle cap, a type of seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, head, and eyebrows (in babies, crusty yellowish-whitish patches appear in these areas and may or may not be itchy)
- Increased risk for developing other health issues
To keep healthy and avoid any skin problems like this, you can incorporate almonds into both your meals and your skin care routine. Here are four ways to do this.
INCORPORATE ALMONDS INTO YOUR DIET
Do not be confused by uneducated people telling you that consuming nuts will make you gain weight. Numerous studies have shown that incorporating unsaturated fats (such as nuts and avocado) actually helps stabilize weight.
A 28-month study, involving 8,865 adult men and women in Spain, found that participants who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight than participants who never ate nuts. Among the participants who gained weight, those who never ate nuts gained an average of 424 grams more than those who ate nuts at least twice a week.
A serving of almonds has 162 calories, 14 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and six grams of protein. Remember, one serving of almonds is 23 almonds, which equals one ounce, one-fourth cup, or about one handful. Portion control is key. I also highly encourage you to stay away from processed nuts. I personally avoid any roasted, salted, or flavored nuts at all costs. The best way to eat them is to sprout them.
Sprouting or soaking nuts removes the outer shell, which contains phytic acid. Phytic acid is a naturally-occurring botanical substance. It is a strong chelator to the most essential minerals, such as zinc, calcium, and iron. Whenever you consume nuts with phytic acid present (with the shell on, essentially), those nutrients will be removed and not used by your body, as they were intended. When you soak and sprout the almonds, not only will you remove the outer shell, and the physic acid, but you will also increase the amount of active enzymes in the nuts, making it more easily digestible for those who experience stomach issues during digestion.
USE AN ALMOND SCRUB
Have you heard about microbeads? If not, I would like to educate you on these little plastic culprits. Make sure you stay away from face and body scrubs which list them as an active ingredient. Microbeads are tiny round plastic beads that are found in some exfoliating products and they are causing quite a stir in the environmental world. The plastic waste caused by these microbeads, which are not filtered out during sewage treatment, is damaging water ecosystems and killing marine life.
In 2013, research at the University of Wisconsin-Superior showed that there were 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile in the Great Lakes! Not only are the beads damaging to fish, they are also bad for your face – microbeads can cause eye irritation and promote rosacea and couperose. It is no wonder that Illinois was the first state to ban the use of microbeads in June of 2014 – and I sincerely hope all other states will quickly follow.
Instead of using these plastic beads, I suggest natural options, like scrubs with ground up almonds, seeds, and stone pits from apricots/peaches, crushed walnut husks, oats, coffee grinds, salt, and sugar. I especially recommend sugar, for those dealing with eczema since it is non-irritating on broken skin, and sea salt for psoriasis sufferers. This should not be done more than once a week. All other scrubs can be used three times a week, but not more. Our skin needs adequate time to amass dry dead cells and you definitely do not want to overexfoliate.
USE ALMOND OIL AS A BODY MOISTURIZER
Did you know that different vegetable oils rank differently against each other when it comes to how much they clog the pores? Oils rank from zero to five, zero being least comedogenic, and five being most comedogenic. Almond oil is an amazing two (moderately low), while coconut oil is a high four, rendering it a bad choice for skin care. Almond oil can be used as a hair moisturizer, a body moisturizer, and a wonderful massage oil.
USE ALMOND MILK AS AN ACTIVATOR FOR POWDER MASKS
Who says you cannot play with your food? I love the idea of incorporating almonds in every step of the beauty routine. Almond milk is gentle and soothing on the skin, which makes it a perfect activator for powder enzyme masks. Simply mix the powder with a bit of warm almond milk and apply to the face for seven to 10 minutes. The result is a bright, supple complexion. Using this mask helps to pull out oils, exfoliate, and reduce the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, cellulite, and even stretch marks. It is perfect for blemished skin, blackheads, and even cystic acne and is excellent for soothing skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, rashes, psoriasis, and acne.
Dasha Saian is the co-founder and current CEO of Saian® and has over 17 years of experience in the spa industry. In addition to her business/marketing degree, she is a licensed aesthetician, certified nutrition and wellness consultant, official ambassador of the Aesthetics International Association (AIA), and certified family herbalist. Saian gives lectures and classes internationally and regularly contributes to global trade publications.