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Independent health store advice on beauty from within

Looking for advice on natural health and wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Rob Whinnett from Blasta Wholefoods in Dungarvan, Co Waterford

Everyone has a favourite face cream or beauty treatment, but there’s no getting around the fact that beautiful skin starts from within. Older skin cells are constantly being shed and renewed, and a steady supply of the right nutrients is essential to support this process. Your skin will thank you for eating a good balance of the right foods by staying soft, supple and blemish-free.

I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but your skin is going to age. It’s a natural process and sadly wrinkles and age spots are inevitable. This process speeds up with smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, over-exposure to the sun, tanning beds, harsh soaps, chemicals and poor diet. But what can we do to slow it down?

Your local independent health store can help you take an holistic approach to looking after your skin by advising on diet, skin-kind toiletries and, where necessary, supplements.

Treat your skin well and optimise your nutrition by eating a varied and balanced diet including antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables, healthy fats from oily fish and nuts, and adequate hydration. The good news is that many of the dietary habits that are good for your skin are also great for your heart and joint health.

Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect skin from the cellular damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals may be triggered by smoking, pollution and the action of sunlight. Eat a rainbow of colourful fruits and vegetables, and aim for at least five portions per day. Beta-carotene, found in orange fruit and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins, and lutein, found in kale and spinach are both important for normal skin cell development and healthy skin tone.

We need vitamin C to promote radiant skin and help blemishes heal. The best sources are blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, kiwis, oranges, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C is also key for producing collagen, the protein that forms the scaffolding that keeps our skin plump and supported.

Collagen supplements are available from your local health store and many people find them helpful for healthy skin, joints and bones.

Vitamin E plays a key role in protecting the skin from oxidative (cell) damage and especially photo-ageing. Foods high in vitamin E include almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, pine nuts and sunflower and pumpkin seed oil.

Selenium is also a powerful antioxidant that works alongside vitamins C and E. Studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet may help protect against sun damage and age spots. Brazil nuts are a great way to boost your selenium intake and just two or three will provide your recommended daily amount. Other good sources of this mineral include fish, eggs, wheatgerm, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc helps to keep skin supple, supports the healing process and helps repair skin damage. Zinc-rich foods include fish, lean red meat, whole grains, poultry, nuts and seeds.

Omega-3 fats found in oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, work from the inside as a natural moisturiser to keep your skin supple and elastic. These fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and may help skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Omega-3 supplements are among the most popular health store products.

Supplements that have an effect on the skin include silica, which is important for the formation of collagen. This can be taken in supplement form or as horsetail tea. Biotin is another supplement often used to help with the skin’s hydration and appearance. Hyaluronic acid may keep the skin hydrated and is often found in skincare products or supplements.

Dry skin is a common feature of peri-menopause and menopause. It may be useful to focus on phyto-oestrogen-rich soya, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Phyto-oestrogens are natural compounds found in plants that have a similar structure to the female sex hormone oestrogen and are thought to help keep our natural hormones in balance. This is important because oestrogen plays an important role in skin health, especially in supporting skin structure and minimising skin damage. Plant ‘oestrogens’ are found in soya such as tofu and tempeh, others are found in the fibre of wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and flaxseeds.

Skin needs moisture to stay flexible. Even mild dehydration may leave your skin looking dry, tired and slightly grey. Experts recommend that we drink six to eight glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the best. Herbal, caffeine-free teas are good, too.

What’s What and Who’s Who in Blasta Wholefoods

Blasta Wholefoods opened its doors in April 2005 and is owned and operated by husband and wife team Rob and Anne Whinnett. ‘Blasta’ is Irish for tasty and the shop operates as a wholefoods store first and foremost. “We are real foodies. We spend our days talking about food – how to grow it, cook it and eat it,” says Rob.

Situated on the main street opposite Shaws, Blasta benefits from passing trade and the advent of the Waterford Greenway means that Dungarvan is now a real tourist hub. “Our customers are really diverse and Dungarvan is a cosmopolitan little town,” says Rob. “We have an incredibly loyal local customer base, many of whom have been shopping here for years. It’s wonderful to see young parents who used to come in here as children now shopping with their own kids.

“We initially got into the health store business because Anne had health problems that turned out to be a dairy intolerance. This lead Anne to studying diet and nutrition, and we started shopping in health stores and reading a lot of food labels. When we opened Blasta we wanted it to be a store that was accessible to everyone.

“We’ve always used the term wholefoods rather than health foods,” says Rob. “Basically food that hasn’t been over-processed. We have a great track record as a showcase for Irish artisan foods and have even  worked with local suppliers to help them develop their products. We stock local honey, apple juice, cider vinegar, kombucha, curry sauces, seaweed, condiments and much more.

“I was diagnosed with coeliac disease a few years ago and it’s amazing how much better our gluten-free section has become! In our fridges and freezer we stock tofu, Irish sauerkraut, kimchee, dairy alternatives such as almond, sheep, coconut, rice and soya milks and yogurts. Our frozen vegan food range includes a nutloaf, pies, burgers and sausages. We are big into teas and have at least 100 different types. We have the best range of herbs and spices for miles, including Middle Eastern and sushi sections.”

Blasta also sells Irish Seed Savers vegetable seeds, seaweed products, the big brand vitamins, minerals and supplements, a full range of toiletries including Irish names and a hand-made lip balm produced locally by one of their honey suppliers. Plus there are Irish-made candles, giftware, a huge range of eco-friendly household products and refills.

VISIT: Blasta Wholefoods, 54 Main St, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford
SPEAK TO: Our fantastic staff Assistant Manager Jules Chabot and assistants Natalie Walsh and Amy Murray are well trained, knowledgeable and friendly.
CONTACT: (058) 23901
OPENING HOURS: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm.

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