KOKORO – Nutricosmetics: The beauty products you can eat

Ever heard of nutricosmetics, the Japanese trend taking over the world?

Back in the 1930s, with the launch of Yakult, Japan started it all. It took a few decades for it to truly bloom into the major market it is now, but always a step ahead, the Land of the Rising Sun was one of the first countries to truly embrace the trend, with beverages, pills and all kinds of beauty foods on offer.

To stay healthy, food has always played a massive role. To be beautiful, we are reminded time and time again that we need to be healthy. As such, the concept of food for health and beauty isn’t revolutionary.

Nutricosmetics, “beauty products,” “beauty from within” supplements, drinks and food are taken orally and target skin, hair, nails and everything else you might want to beautify. Far from a fad, nutricosmetics and beauty foods are such an important part of modern Japanese culture that the country has a certification for this type of products: FOSHU, Food for Specified Health Uses. Where American antioxidant-infused chocolate bars and French vitamin-fortified skin care yogurt need to rely on bold claims and their marketing campaigns, the Japanese have a government approved certification that theoretically means that what you eat will really help you with your skin/ hair/ nails/ weight loss/ fatigue/ muscle definition/ gut health…

There are seemingly endless products that claim endless benefits, a range that starts with teas for beautiful skin, soups and coffees, juices for shiny hair, yogurts and marshmallows to anti-ageing sweets.

Ingredients that will help turn us all into the best versions of ourselves go from extreme luxury – shark cartilage and “extract of a rare and inedible melon,” as reported by CosmeticsDesign-Asia – to mundane – collagen in Suntory Precious beer or rice germ extract Glucosylceramide in Orbis Defencera supplement powder. What with antioxydants in beauty soup and beautifying marshmallows, every taste and budget can get a slice of the nutricosmetics trend.

Whilst beauty extracts from “Yokuinin” or coix seed, ginseng, royal jelly, bee pollen, green tea, pomegranate and probiotics are popular, the real star of the Japanese nutricosmetics is collagen: “From beauty facemasks to seasonings for food, you’ll find it added to almost everything imaginable,” says the Takaski website. The “everything” includes smoothies, and this is where the line gets blurry.

Green juices and vitamin-enhanced drinks have been popular for a long time, and not just in Japan. Supplements are a staple pretty much everywhere on the planet and yet, who’s ever heard of nutricosmetics?

The fact is, nutricosmetics include probiotics yogurts, but also chocolate slimming chews and chocolate acne fighters, granola bars that “improve skin tone” and gummy bears with anti-ageing powers.

Whether you decide nutricosmetics are a Japanese trend to follow or not, let’s not forget that healthy food is beauty food too. Clean, natural and “un-enhanced” ingredients are right there at the top of our list of beauty from within products. With so many amazing, fresh ingredients already found in traditional Japanese cuisine, you will be happy to know that polyphenols is found in green tea and pomegranates, miso and natto are pretty much made of probiotics, fish is still one of the best way to get your Omega-3, so indulge in sushi and sashimi and bone broth will help with your collagen intake.

It might not be marshmallows, chocolate and gummy bears but plenty of veggies and fish, tea and water, soy and berries pack a punch too, without the added side of skepticism and the price tag of nutricosmetics.

However, considering we eat to survive and stay healthy too – hopefully, – why not eat to get a bit of help with our beauty woes too? We’d stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true and beauty food and supplements should never replace a balanced diet, but if we have to eat chocolate, why not make it a skin-enhancing one?

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