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Independent health store advice on beauty from within – diet and nutrition to help you glow

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Sian Eustace of Healing Harvest in Kinvara, Co Galway

You are what you eat – the fuel that we put into our bodies is reflected in our energy levels, in our general health and is directly reflected in the condition of our skin. There are many wonderful skin products and regimes, some organic and natural, some less so, but without the foundation of a good diet, this will always be a case of papering over an underlying issue. Our skin is one of the main organs of elimination, and what goes in, must come out.

So what are the key foods to consider when working towards perfect glowing skin? Here are a number of things you can consider:

Essential fatty acids

These are fats which need to come from our diet because our bodies cannot produce them. They are vital for keeping the skin hydrated, giving elasticity and aiding with hormonal transit, which can be a factor in certain hormone-driven skin conditions. They can be found in nutritional oils, taken as a supplement or used in salad dressings, but never heated. Examples are flax oil, hemp oil, fish oils or some oil blends prepared by supplement companies. They are also present in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring.

Vitamins A, C and E

Vitamin A, as retinol, is an important anti-ageing aid and can be used topically or taken internally. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants which help prevent damage to the skin from factors in our everyday lives such as sunlight and pollution. These can be found in fresh fruit and vegetables. Eating a wide variety of vegetable types and colours means that you will also take in other antioxidants such as carotenoids and bioflavanoids. Avocados are a great source of vitamin E as well as mono-unsaturated fats.


This mineral is extremely important in maintaining skin health. It can reduce inflammation and scarring as well as helping to heal damaged areas of skin. Food sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds and shellfish.


To really glow, your skin needs hydration. You cannot beat plenty of fresh water to keep your skin looking healthy. If you find it hard to remember to drink enough, try carrying a bottle of water with you or making sure to drink a large glass of water when you get up in the morning and again with each meal. You'll be surprised how much better you feel as well as noticing the improvement in your skin.

Detox herbs

Herbs such as milk thistle have traditionally been used to gently support the liver, thus helping the body remove unwanted products via that route instead of the skin. It can be taken as a tincture or a tablet. Nettle is one of my favourite foods as it is such an overlooked plant and can do so much for us. It is naturally rich in iron and calcium and used to be known as a ‘blood purifier’, meaning that it offers a gentle cleanse through the kidneys and the skin. Nettle can have an antihistamine effect, gently bringing down inflammation such as skin rashes. It also contains silica, which is an important building block of healthy skin, hair and nails. Nettle can be taken as a tea, either on its own or in a detox blend. It can also be eaten in soup if you have a fresh, clean source of nettle plants in the garden.

What’s What and Who’s Who at Healing Harvest

“I opened Healing Harvest on Valentine’s Day in 2007,” says owner-manager Sian Eustace. “At the time I didn’t have children so I was able to work six days a week. I had some experience from working at a health store in Dublin and had recently qualified as a registered homeopath. Once my children were born I was lucky enough to get help from a number of different staff members over the years. My current team, who are always amazing, but have been particularly so during this difficult time, are Deirdre, Melanie and Raissa.

“Healing Harvest is a tiny shop which is jammed with stock. Customers often describe it as a tardis. When I first opened I found that some foods I ordered did not go down well in a rural setting – our customers tend to bake their own bread and to make their own bodycare products out of almond oil, for example. So we stock the ingredients needed to make these.

“We are very much a foodie shop – we have about two-thirds food stock. Our top sellers are local raw milk, local organic sourdough bread and local organic free range eggs, almost all delivered on a Tuesday - bread comes on a Wednesday. Our barista oat milk is also really popular. We stock local Kinvara honey in summer too.

“We stock pastas, seaweeds and sushi, ingredients for baking, a selection of prepacks, herbs and spices, gluten-free and vegan products, nut butters, olive oil, dairy-free chocolate, curry pastes and blends. Our fridge and freezer contain raw milk and dairy alternatives such as around eight types of vegan cheese and sheep, soy and goat yogurt.

“We are big into refilling and have three different ranges of refillable goods including laundry liquid, washing up liquid, cleaning products, soap, shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. We ask customers to leave their containers with us with their name and number on them, and then we refill them at the end of the day. This due to safety concerns and all of the additional cleaning needed due to Covid-19. We are very keen to keep the refill service going and keep up our support of a local plastic-free group. We're also proud to support local. As well as the local foods above, we sell fabric masks for a local seamstress and Deirdre sells her herb and vegetable plants, grown in organic compost, when she is in the shop on a Tuesday.

“We stock a wide range of supplements and will order in others at our customers' request. We are active on Facebook and have a loyalty card for customers.”

VISIT: Healing Harvest, Main St, Dungory West, Kinvara, Co Galway
SPEAK TO: Owner-manager Sian Eustace (homeopath, nutritional coach), sales assistants Deirdre Bennett (naturopath and horticulturalist), Melanie Bouffard (nutritional coach), Raissa Hogan (a marine biologist who is hugely knowledgeable about herbs, permaculture and raw and plant-based cookery).
CONTACT: 091 637176
OPENING HOURS: Monday to Friday 9.30-5.30, Saturday 10-5.30. Closed 1-2pm

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