Physical beauty is a function of inner health and cleanliness. Healthy looking hair, skin and nails result from a diet rich in antioxidants, sulfur, silicon, iron, zinc as well as a general avoidance of inflammatory foods—such as sugar, trans fats, alcohol and gluten—that also cause puffiness. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of really healthy, really tasty whole foods to choose from. Here are three for you to consider the next time you’re stocking your pantry. 

Aloe Vera 

Used since ancient times to speed the healing of wounds, fresh aloe vera is extremely effective when used topically on sunburns. But did you know that you could also ingest this succulent plant? Aloe vera juice helps to decrease inflammation in irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and other disorders of the gut. Additionally, aloe vera can increase beneficial bacteria in the intestines that aid digestion, and since a healthy digestive system contributes to healthy-looking skin, aloe is worth a look. You can buy packaged aloe juice at the natural foods store, but fresh is even better for you. Run a fresh aloe vera leaf through a juicer or remove the skin and add the gelatinous substance inside the leaf to your next smoothie. Do not consume packaged aloe vera that is not intended for internal use. 

Aloe vera is an incredibly potent herb, and just because a little is beneficial, doesn’t mean that a lot is even better. When using any herb or medicinal substance, listen to your body and also consult your physician, particularly if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. 

Burdock Root 

Long used in the ancient Indian medicine practice of Ayurveda, burdock is known to alleviate skin challenges such as rashes, acne, eczema and psoriasis. It is also good for the teeth. Fresh burdock is available in some supermarkets and many natural food stores. 

Burdock can gradually be introduced into the diet by adding it to fresh juices. When selecting burdock, look in the produce area for roots that are crisp and firm, rather than flimsy. Burdock is easy to grow in your home garden. Try the juice recipe on this page to get you started. 

Coconuts 

Hydrating and delicious, coconut water is thought to be chemically similar to human blood plasma. Coconut oil—with its anti-viral and anti-fungal properties—has long been used as both a food and a medicine. It makes a great skin moisturizer and lip balm, and is quickly and easily absorbed. 

Stable at up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, coconut oil can be used to replace many traditional food preparation oils including butter, margarine, canola, corn, olive and safflower oils. Unlike other fats and oils, coconut oil does not form dangerous trans-fatty acids because it is a completely saturated fat. It can be blended into a salad dressing, added to a smoothie or eaten from a spoon. A good daily dose would be two tablespoons. 

ABC Beauty Juice 

Yield: one serving 

Equipment
Juicer 

INGREDIENTS 

2 apples
2” piece fresh aloe vera
3 ribs celery
1 medium burdock root
2-3 ounces fresh coconut water

Run all ingredients except coconut water through a juicer. Top with coconut water and drink immediately.