You Are What You Eat

Interview by Stacy McClure.

I don't have as much energy as I used to. Like the, 25 year old bounce out of bed ready to take on the world, kind of energy. I might not have ever had that type of zeal, but I have even less now. I know that it's mostly due to my age, but I've noticed that diet, lifestyle and exercise play a very important role. I've also been realizing lately that my moods aren't as stable if I don't eat healthy, fresh and whole foods. In my own search for some answers, I found an amazing San Francisco based nutritionist who is also over 40. Below is an interview with Marnie Winthrop at Becoming Health. She had some really enlightening information to share with us gals over 40. This information can benefit anyone at any age though, so feel free to share this post.

What are some helpful nutrition guidelines for beautiful skin for women who are over 40?  

Hydrate.  Drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day.

Sleep.  Women are hard working and therefore exhausted most of the time. All healing goes on at night, including regeneration of our skin, so it's imperative to get proper sleep. I recognize this is a huge challenge for most of us, so I encourage you to see if there are little things you can cut out of your normal routine and put yourself to bed earlier. Do you really need to check e-mail that last time, peruse Facebook, watch that last episode on TV? It will all be there in the morning.  Experience relaxation and pleasure on a regular basis. Nothing takes the vitality out of our life and skin like stress.

Are there certain foods that women over 40 should be avoiding or adding to their diet?  

MW: When working with clients I always focus on things that they would want to incorporate, so I'll start with that list of foods. In general, you want to eat the highest quality food available in its natural form. The good news is that what is good for your skin is good for your body and vice versa.  The following are what I recommend.

  • Healthy fats. We have a damaging dietary myth in our culture that fat makes us fat. It is quite the opposite and enjoying healthy fats is imperative for our bodies to function optimally and for our skin to glow. Enjoy avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butters (that have no added ingredients), olive oil, coconut oil, and flax oil. There are other healthy oils to try, but these are the basics.

  • Vegetable, vegetables, vegetables and especially the green ones. Kale, spinach, dark leafy salad greens, chard, beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, cilantro, parsley, mustard greens, etc. Green smoothies are a great thing to enjoy to boost your energy and glow.

  • Fruits in combination with vegetables. You want to think about eating the rainbow. This is a simple way to remember that your body is getting the nutrition and anti-oxidants it needs to combat the free radicals that contribute to aging skin. Citrus fruits are key. A simple thing to do is start each morning with a large glass of water and squeeze of lemon or other citrus fruit into it.

  • Sea vegetables. Green vegetables from the sea are some of the most nutrient rich foods on earth and are a great source of minerals and iodine, which are key for women and thyroid health. These include nori (the seaweed wrap in sushi), dulse flakes, hijiki, seaweed salad, etc.

  • High quality protein, When choosing animal protein it is imperative to get organic and sustainably raised. If an animal has been raised as nature intended it, then it will provide nutrition. If not, you'll be getting a dose of hormones, antibiotics, and other toxins. If you eat animal protein, please enjoy grass-fed beef, pasture raised chickens and eggs, and wild caught fish.

Things to enjoy sparingly as treats or avoid.

  • Coffee and caffeine. This is highly acidic to the system.

  • Soda and diet soda

  • Alcohol

  • Refined sugars and flours

  • Artificial sweeteners

  • Processed foods with nitrates, hormones, pesticides, and preservatives.

  • Soy. This can mimic estrogen in the body, is a highly GMO-modified food, and the protein is not readily available to us. If you choose soy, be sure it is organic and ideally fermented so your body can access the protein.

What general supplements and brands of supplements should we be taking?

MW: I work with my clients to ensure they are nourished with organic, delicious foods along with the sweetness of life, so I don't consider myself an expert on supplements. While supplements can play a role (especially since conventional food has a fraction of the nutrition that our grandparents enjoyed), it's important to use them to supplement a foundational healthy diet and lifestyle.  Too many people are popping a bunch of pills while ignoring their body's cry for good food, relaxation and pleasure.

Most of us can benefit from a few simple supplements:

  • A food-based multi-vitamin.

  • Krill, fish, or Udo 3.6.9 oil - to supplement omega-3 fatty acids

In terms of brands, this is a challenge! You get what you pay for with supplements, so this is an area where you want to spend money. I look for organic, food-based supplements and get them at health food stores like Rainbow Grocery, (in San Francisco).  I like Garden of Life and Healthforce Nutritionals.  I used to like New Chapter Organics but they were recently purchased by Proctor & Gamble so I expect the quality to quickly decline.  

What are the top 3 super foods for energy and vitality for women?

MW: The Green Ones:  spirulinachlorella, and blue-green algae  (which you often find combined with other green goodness in powders like Vitamineral Greens)

Raw Cacao - Yes, that's right, chocolate.  In it's purest form before it's been processed with sugar and added artificial ingredients.

Maca - Otherwise known as nature's viagra.  

Others:  goji berries, bee products (raw honey, bee pollen, royal jelly), and coconuts and coconut products.


Green smoothies to enjoy every morning. A great way to add your super foods.

Do you believe in food cleanses?

MW: Yes. I believe in cleanses for so many reasons. Here are a few:

1. This is how I started my healing journey. Completing a food-based cleanse was a huge wake up call for me. I had a profound experience related to the power of food to create vitality (or exhaustion and illness).  It lead me down my path from sugar addict to kale addict.

2. So many people now have undetected food sensitivities due to the industrial food complex and the technological modifications of food. A cleanse is a great way to eliminate known toxins and common allergens to discover if certain foods do not work for your system. Gluten (protein found in wheat and related grains), dairy, and soy being the most common.  

3. Regardless of how clean you eat, we are exposed to toxins every day through the environment and stress. Cleansing is a great way to give your body and digestive system a break so it can clean out and rejuvenate.

4. I've had many clients that reported skin issues clearing up during the cleanse, and I love seeing how people glow and are so vibrant after a cleanse.  

I believe primarily in food based cleanses, similar to my Pura Vida Cleanse, because the body is receiving pure nutrition and it can be a starting point to make a lasting change in diet and lifestyle. I find many of the juice-only cleanses to be too radical and harsh. While people often feel great after them, they haven't learned how to continue to nourish themselves and usually go back to old habits and end up feeling worse. 

For people who already have a super healthy diet and lifestyle, I do think certain juice fasting cleanses can be appropriate to take cleansing to a deeper level. For most people, these are too radical and can actually be detrimental.

Marnie has offered BB40 readers $50.00 off of the Pura Vida Cleanse to kick start their journey towards healthful eating and more vitality! This is the link to her cleanse:  

For your BB40 discount:

Marnie Northrop is a certified holistic health coach transforms lives with her practical, flexible, encouraging approach to nutrition and wellness.  She loves seeing her clients turn their battle with food and their bodies into a joyful, nourishing relationship filled with pleasure and love.  As her forties approached, Marnie left her fast-paced, exhausting consulting gig, kicked her afternoon coffee and cookie habit, and pursued her life-long passion for health and wellness.  At 41, she looks and feels better than ever. She is the creator of the Pura Vida Cleanse, leads workshops, and offers wellness coaching to both individuals and groups in private and corporate settings.