Wellness

Four all-natural ways to look and feel your best on your wedding day

Four Chatelaine staffers are getting married! They gave us their wedding-day health concerns and we flipped them to a nutrition expert for her best advice.

Portrait of a Bride Looking Around Standing in a Colonnade With the Groom

Glow from the inside out on your wedding day with these all-natural tips (Photo by Getty Images).

Every bride-to-be wants to look and feel her best on her big day, but the pressures of looking amazing and being totally present shouldn’t push you into unhealthy habits. Follow these tips to ensure your natural beauty shines through when all eyes are on you:

Q: How can I brighten my smile for the wedding without using a chemical teeth whitener? -Kate Gertner, Assistant style editor
A: When it comes to whitening your teeth naturally there are lots of foods out there that can help you brighten your smile. Include lots of crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and celery in your diet. These fibrous foods act like little scrubbers, helping to whisk away stains before they settle.

Strawberries are also a great choice to snack on as they contain a compound know as malic acid, which has been shown to help restore the pearl to your teeth. For a simple at-home whitening treatment, try mashing a few strawberries with a bit of baking soda and, using a soft bristle brush, gently apply the mixture to your teeth and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly and brush as normal to remove the strawberry residue.

For a quick fix after your morning coffee or post-work wine, make sure your purse is packed with a sugar-free gum containing xylitol — a natural sweetener that prevents the buildup of sticky plaque on the teeth, raises the pH of your mouth and encourages the production of saliva. Over time this will help to remineralize teeth, making them stronger and less susceptible to staining.

Q: How do I maintain my energy throughout the day? -Erica Rodrigues, Freelance designer
A: The social demands and never-ending to-do list leading up to your wedding can leave you feeling stretched too thin. Reaching for that fourth cup of coffee may seem like a good option when exhaustion hits but it only leaves you treating the symptoms rather than tackling the problem.

When it comes to energy levels keeping blood sugar levels stable is of the upmost importance. Nourish the body with healthy whole-foods such as complex carbohydrates (think sweet potatoes and brown rice), quality proteins and good fats. Avoid refined sugars and processed junk as these foods will cause your sugar levels to yo-yo and deplete your body of much-needed nutrients.

Dehydration is another important piece and thirst may actually be masking itself as fatigue. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day and look for foods and beverages that contain natural electrolytes such as coconut water and fresh fruits and veggies.

If you need a little kick of caffeine choose green tea over coffee as it contains enough caffeine to give you a boost and contains the amino acid L-theanine, known to promote relaxation.

Lastly, if you’re feeling stressed out and frazzled you may want to bulk up on your B vitamins. These water-soluble nutrients are needed in higher amounts during times of stress and can be the key to elevating your energy levels.

Q: How can I protect my skin during the summer months to ensure it will be glowing and sunburn free? -Kari Pritchard, Editorial assistant
A: 
When it comes to sun protection, look for natural sunscreens that contain physical blocks such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which act as a shield to the skin, blocking out the sun’s harmful rays. As an added bonus zinc has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties making it an ideal choice for those prone to breakouts.

Sun exposure sets the stage for free-radical damage internally so you want to make sure your diet is rich in antioxidant foods like tomatoes, melons, ginger and deeply-coloured berries. While these foods don’t replace the need for a good sunscreen (and common sun sense), they will nourish the skin, stopping free radicals before they get a chance to do too much damage.

Q: One of my main wedding concerns is achieving healthy, beautiful, glowing skin. I’ve always been prone to breakouts, especially when I’m stressed. Do you have any advice for preventing and fighting blemishes? -Anna Redman, Researcher
A: 
Acne can actually be a complex issue and there are a few different things you want to try when dealing with it. I’ve listed the six most common causes I see when dealing with skin issues:

1. Dehydration
Dehydration is the first place to start when treating acne. Make sure you’re consuming lots of fluids to hydrate the body and flush out any toxins. If you’re easily bored with water try herbal teas (both hot and unsweetened iced varieties), and ensure you’re eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies to hit your daily fluid requirements.

2. Inflammation
If you’re a milk drinker, try cutting it out for a few weeks and see if that makes a difference in your skin. Dairy, especially cow’s milk, can be quite inflammatory, which shows up on the skin as acne. Look for unsweetened milk alternatives such as almond, coconut or hemp.

3. Too few fats
Healthy fats from avocados and coconut oil plus essential fatty acids from flax and cold-water fish like salmon, will help moisturize the body, and have the added bonus of providing anti-inflammatory support as well.

4. Constipation
Clearing your bowels will really help clear your skin. If you’re constipated try working with a nutritionist to determine any dietary patterns that could be causing it, or try some gentle laxatives like aloe vera juice or soaked prunes.

5. An overloaded liver
Our livers are the central processing plant for everything that enters our body, but when it gets overloaded, acne triggers such as toxins and out-dated hormones get backlogged causing our skin to suffer. To help support liver function, consume lots of liver friendly foods like beetroot, dandelion greens and lemons, or reach for supplements like milk thistle or N-acetyl-cysteine.

6. Not enough zinc
Zinc in an important mineral with antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also typically low in those who suffer from acne. Try adding more foods such as sea veggies, pumpkin seeds, crimini mushrooms and spinach into your diet. Supplementing with zinc should only be done with the consultation of a nutritionist or health care practitioner as too much zinc can throw off copper levels in the body.

*Bonus question! Our writer is getting married too so here’s her biggest concern:
It’s only a few weeks to go until my wedding and I’m hoping to drop the last few pounds healthfully. In order to do this I’m focusing on consuming whole, unprocessed foods in their natural state and cutting back on anything processed or refined. I’m eating smaller portions throughout the day versus larger, more infrequent meals. Essentially, you should never go longer than three hours without eating. This will ensure that your blood sugar levels are kept balanced and that you’re never left feeling hungry or deprived.

Lastly I’m focusing my diet around more lean proteins (poultry, fish and tempeh), healthy fats (nuts, seeds, coconut oil and avocados), fibrous veggies (leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and green beans) and slow-burning carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice and quinoa).

Lynsey Walker has a master’s degree in human health and nutritional science. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter