Glowing skin inside out - a talk with Jennie Hassel, trained holistic nutritional therapist

In this article Jennie Hassel, shares her personal journey and how a deep psychological trauma led her on the path to find balance and wellbeing. She shares with us what is actually the key to get glowing skin and radiant, fulfilled being. How that relates to the food we eat and our general lifestyle. An extensive article filled with information which if applied will forever change your life!

Who is Jennie?

 I´m a trained holistic nutritional therapist and work at a health  food store in Stockholm. I grew up on a farm in nature right above Sweden's largest lake.The deep dark woods, fields, plants, lakes and animals have always been a big part of my life. Nature is where I get my inspiration from! As a little girl, my favorite time during the day was on the back of my horse or playing with my rabbit. If someone asked me what my favorite tv-show was, I would say ”Ett med Naturen”/”Being one with Nature”. It was a series of nature programs showing life of animals all around the world. Nature is something I keep very close to my heart and something I believe we need to take greater care of, since we are just borrowing it for a while. A lot of my love and respect for nature probably comes from when I spent 2 years of my early childhood in Tanzania, Africa. That shaped me in many ways! My ambition is that what I do here in this life on Earth, will contribute to a greater wellbeing for everyone who inhabit it. I´m driven and inspired by sustainable entrepreneurs, the amazing organic farmers who try and keep our nature and soils healthy, herbalists and strong women like Jane Goodall who follow their dreams and make a difference. I treasure everything nature and I believe that it is from nature we can receive true healing. My hope is to be able to give back to nature and wish that my inspiration and knowledge can encouradge others to do the same.

My journey towards healing begun after a hard and long battle with anorexia, and a constant feeling of never really fitting in.

As a child and later a young woman, I was insecure didn’t trust myself and nothing was really good enough. I was never satisfied!
The feeling of disatisfaction, insecurity and also wanting to be perfect led me to a feeling of losing control and a great fear of coming across as a failure.
The only thing I felt that I could control was my body, what I ate and didn’t eat and how much I exercised. The ”kick” I felt when I saw that I could control my body, slowly but steady took over my mind, my thoughts and finally my whole life. 
For me, this begun in my early 20-ies and kept on for about 10 years.
Being trapped inside this evil two-faced disease, constantly battling the voices in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, strong enough, nice enough, thin enough has done a lot to me, my mind, my body and the way I look at healing, health care and self-love today.
During my treatment, I was stuffed with antidepressants, synthetic hormones and processed foods that had really bad consequences on my body´s systems. I developed autoimmune reactions; autoimmune hypothyroid and allergies to gluten and dairy among other.
I do not blame the people who took care of me at the time, they did not know better and they did the best they knew.
Being born in the sign of Scorpio, I´m a person with strong emotions and a willpower that can probably help me climb a mountain all by myself and without a guide ;) That willpower and my constant urge to find answers to things that were not clear to me, slowly made me find my way back to life and finally to the life I live today.
I went trough alternative therapists, nutritional therapists, western doctors with an eastern mind, psychotherapists that re-connected me with my body trough 5-Rythm dance and the power of putting my emotions down on paper.
I turned my way of eating upside down and inside out to try to reset my system with foods and thoughts that had the properties to heal instead of breaking me down.

So what have I learned from all this?
I have learned that health and wellbeing is not about right or wrong, do´s and don’ts. W
ho is eating the biggest plate of kale, running the fastest marathon, downing as many supplement-pills one can swallow or whisking the foamiest matcha with their 200$ bamboo whisk.
Health and wellbeing to me is the feeling of being comfortable in your own body and feeding it with food and nutrients that are right for you and your system. Not what the latest diet guru is howling about on his/her Instagram-feed.

Health and wellbeing to me is having an inner peace and feeding your soul with positive, happy and friendly thoughts. 
Health and wellbeing to me is being your own best friend and treating the person that you are with grace and respect.
To be able to feel and feed well, there might be some different protocols to go through to help the body and mind heal. Every one of us is unique and everyone needs to find their own protocol that works for them. And that means that we need to try and to fail, forgive ourselves, try again and take small steps in the direction we feel is right for us. Many times it is also very important to reach out for help. There is no need to be alone if you are in a place where you feel lost and confused. I know that I would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the help and support of my family, friends and the loving and caring therapists who worked with me on my journey towards healing.   

The skin is our biggest organ and it is also the home of millions of bacteria and fungus that we need to treat with respect, or they can turn against us. 

The health of our skin is highly depending on the health and environment of our stomach and gut.The condition and health of your skin represents and often reflects what´s going on in your gut. We have more bacteria in our gut than we have cells in our body!

Those bacteria, fungus and amoebas are, for the most part, nice and friendly and will support us in feeling good and happy. But they can also turn against us if we are not giving them the TLC that they deserve.
Since the latest science tells us that our gut bacteria rule more or less everything that is going on in our bodie and mind, I would say that our gut health should be on top of our overall self-care priority list!
Just take a look at these scientific studies for example. The scientists talk about how our gut health is linked to depression, or acne and the brain,
So if you are experiencing issues with your skin, hair or want to optimize your already glowing skin, take a closer look at how you are treating your digestive system and your gut and the little inhabitants that live there!
As a nutritional therapist, and because of my passion for health trough good whole foods, I always talk to people about how and what they eat. Because how is as important as what, if you are feeling any kind of imbalance in your system. The foods you eat need to pass through your whole digestive system to end up in your gut. It´s from your gut and via your intestinal wall that the digested nutrients are distributed throughout the body and start healing and re-building what might be broken or damaged. So if you have a broken or a stressed digestive system, there will be less good stuff and poor nutrition for the body to distribute. 

Basically it is quite simple; If we eat in a way that feeds the good bacteria and feeds them the foods that they can grow of, they will most likely use that food in a way that is beneficial for your health, skin and general wellbeing. When your good bacteria is well and thriving, there will be less space in your gut for the bad guys to establish a colony and create a bad environment that can lead to overgrowth of candida, parasites, other yeast driven infections and finally inflammation. Inflammation can later manifest and show itself on the skin as acne, eczema, flaky skin, dandruff, redness, dry or greasy skin. 

So, what are the foods that feed the good bacteria and how do you know what´s right for you?! I will explain a bit about that further down.
If you are experiencing problems with your skin and digestives system, it might feel a little bit overwhelming and scary to start a treatment or reorganize your diet. It is not always easy to know what is good for you if you already have a health issue that you are dealing with, or even if you feel fine but want to do more to help build up your gut, skin and immune system. 
That is why it is so important to seek help so you don’t stumble around in the dark and get lost in all the different “fix-you-up-in-7-days-diets” and other quick-fixes. There is no “one-size-fits-all”. We are all unique and so is our gut and digestive systems. So that means that the food that is right for your neighbor, your sister or for the person across you at your work desk  will probably not be right for you.
So, if you feel that you need some kind of guiding  in straighten out out your health issues, find a good holistic practitioner that can help you with both your diet, topical skin care routine, stress management (because stress is one of the worst things for your digestive system and your skin) and your sleep habits.
Depending on your personal health status and what your purpose with changing your diet is, there are a few different foods/food groups and toxins that are good to avoid/remove.
Some foods you might need to remove all together for a period of time to be able to reset and restore your gut and digestive system. After a while (together with your therapist/health coach) you can slowly try to introduce some food back into your diet and others you might need to remove for the rest of your life. It all depends on if you have allergies, intolerances, or what level of god vs. bad bacteria you have in your digestive system. If you are working with a holistic practitioner, whey can usually help you to find out the environment in your gut by running different kind of tests that are suitable for your specific situation. 
And as I said before, it is always important to start with yourself and your personal issues.

In general you should start with removing what makes your system upset. Here are some important things to start with:
  • Gluten/wheat
  • Milk
  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Processed soy products and fake meat 
  • Additives, trans fats, prefabricated and processed foods
  • Endocrine disruptors, chemicals, toxins and plastics.
    (They mess with our hormones. Unbalanced hormones disturb your stress levels, your gut AND your skin)
  • Processed meats (sometimes removing meat in general (red meat specifically) for a period of time to let the digestive system rest)
  • Night shades (tomatoes, potatoes, paprika, chili, goji berries). Excluding this food group is also a very individual thing. It all depends on your level of inflammation/imbalance and how stressed your system is
  • Foods/veggies that is too high in fibers that might be hard to metabolize if you have a stressed digestive system. These can probably be re-introduced later when you have started to build a stronger gut and digestive system. So they deserve a spot in the “Add more of-section” too
All these foods/nonfoods have one thing in common. That in one way or the other, they can lead to inflammation in the body.

They also break down the good gut bacteria/enhance the environment for the bad bacteria to colonize the gut and they have a destructive effect on the intestinal lining of your gut where you absorb a lot of the nutrients that comes from the food you eat.
Inflammation is a condition in the body that will suppress/stress your immune system and it can hit you in many different ways depending on where you have your weak link. Some people react with acne and stressed skin and it all starts in your gut.

Add more of:
  • Green juices
    Maybe you need to do a juice fast or a light cleanse to give your system a break and be able to rest. The level of your juice fast/cleanse is always depending on the level of your health status. Talk to your healthcare practitioner, holistic coach or nutritional therapist to determine what is best for you. Almost anyone can add more green juices to their healthcare routine without any problem and benefit a lot from that! But not everyone can do a juice fast or a cleanse in the beginning of a healing journey.
  • Good fats and the right ratios between Omega 3/6/7/9 and good quality pasture raised butter or Ghee.
    The ratio between omega 3/6 is in today’s standard diet too high levels of inflammatory omega 6 (arachidonic acid from processed red meat, homogenized and pasteurized dairy, trans fat and too much of sunflower oil, corn oil, soy and peanut oil) and too less of anti-inflammatory omega 3 (EPA/DHA from wild caught fatty fish, fish oil, algie oil, hemp seed oil, walnuts, pumpkins, flax seed oil). The proper ratio we used to have before we “evolved” and started eating processed foods and sugars were about a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio omega6/omega3. Today we consume a diet that has a ratio at about 15:1 to 17:1 ratio omega6/omega 3. That says a lot about the increasing level of inflammation, chronic and autoimmune diseases (diabetes, heart and cardiovascular problems, cancer, overweight, arthritis, psoriasis, thyroid issues) that are increasing in our society.
    When we talk about Omega 6 we need to know that there are one part that is more pro-inflammatory and one that is anti-inflammatory. The one that I have mentioned above, arachidonic acid (AA) is pro-inflammatory. The other part of Omega 6, gamma linoleic acid (GLA) is anti-inflammatory. We find GLA in black currant seed oil, evening primrose oil, breast milk, borage oil and a very small part in blue green algea.
  • Minerals for tissue structure, good detoxification and health of your liver, kidneys and gallbladder
  • Protein from good quality sources, both plant- and animal based (see note below for different kinds and combinations of protein).
    If you include animal proteins in your diet, be sure that it is from a certified organic and reliable source. The animals (chicken/egg/beef) should have been living a good life, been grass-fed and pasture raised. The animal should not have been put up to stress or been treated with antibiotics. Fish should preferably be wild caught (or at least certified farmed through a certification organ that is reliable), not been treated with antibiotic or fed with soy/corn/grains. Eating wild game can also be very beneficial for a lot of people and a more sustainable alternative to beef. Plant based proteins come to best use in the body if they are combined differently. That means that you can mix brown rice with chickpeas or lentils, broccoli with wild rice, carrots with lima beans and so on. Also use good quality protein powder (hemp, brown rice, chia, amaranth, chickpea, millet-mix) in your baking or smoothies if you workout or have been low in inspiration in front of the stow, which can easily happen to anyone
  • Collagen for strengthening the intestinal lining, building up the ligaments and the different layers of your skin
  • Pre -and pro-biotics to feed the already existing good bacteria in your gut and to add even more good quality bacteria strains to increase the level of your immune system and opportunity to absorb more nutrients from the foods you eat. Pre-biotics are basically foods that feed the good bacteria. Examples of that are foods high in insoluble fibers like artichokes, legumes, high fiber veggies, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, beets, berries, fermented foods like sour kraut, gluten free whole grain or sour dough and gluten free oats
  • B-vitamins and maybe some extra of vitamin B5 and B6 to boost your skin health and increase the ability for the skin to heal and re-store itself. B-vitamins are also needed for your hair growth, your energy and carbohydrate metabolism, your immune system, the detoxification of your liver and to hinder the growth of malign melanoma cells
  • Zinc together with vitamin C and B5 for better wound healing.
    Zink is also connected to the important A-vitamin that our skin needs to re-build, protect and re-new itself. Without zinc the body will not get access to the amount of vitamin A that it needs. This is because zinc deficiency will disturb the body´s production of a protein complex that is used to transport vitamin A from the liver into the bloodstream so it then can work its wonders on your skin
  • Enzymes/Hydrochloric acid for a better digestion and food metabolism and for better use of the vitamins, minerals and fats that you consume in your diet
  • Leafy greens (especially bitter greens to stimulate the glands in your month to excrete digestive liquids) and alkaline foods that are rich in chlorophyll that helps to cleans the body from toxin buildup
  • Root vegetables and collard greens
  • A mix of fresh and dried herbs and spices
  • Birch water because it´s alkalizing and helps you to get rid of too much acidity in your body
  • Water, water and more WATER. Because there is no other liquid that can better transports the nutrients around in the body so they end up in the right places. Up to 2,5 - 3 liters, preferably filtered water, needs to go down every day. Of course there are limits even here. You should not drink too much water for your unique body constitution. As with everything else, the amount of water you should drink is depending on the level of your physical activity, the level of other liquids that are dehydrating you, the level of sleep and your weight.
  • Plant based milk or goat milk (if you are intolerant to the milk protein casein, be careful with the goat milk).
  • Algae and sea greens
  • Whole gluten free grains and sour dough
  • Good fermented foods like sour kraut, kimchi, apple cider vinegar with “the mother” cultured yoghurts like plant based coconut, almond, buckwheat and unprocessed dairy from goats, if you are not intolerant to animal dairy products of course. If you suffer from a yeast infection/candida already, you might need to take care of that first. Then slowly add in more good bacteria and fermented foods after you have done a yeast/candida cleans. There is no final, “ready-for-you-recipe” how to do this. It is all up to how your unique body constitution and digestive system reacts to different foods and healing protocols.
Eat clean organic foods without preservatives, chemicals, additives, sugars/synthetic sweeteners and pesticides!

  • Drink enough water.
    As I mentioned above, there are no other liquid that can transport nutrients within our body (except blood, and blood needs water). So to be able to keep a good nutritional status within our organs and a stabile pH-level, we need to hydrate ourselves regularly. But try not to drink water together with your meals. That will dilute your digestive fluids and your enzymes (the little helpers that help you break down the food you eat) will not work properly. Drink a good amount 20-30 minutes before a meal or 1,5-2 hours after. Another thing that can be good to know is that our bodies do not like cold water. It should be room/body temperature or otherwise the body is going to have to warm it up to body temperature before it can use it. And that means that a lot of energy is going to be needed just to warm the water to good enough temperature. That energy could have been saved and used for a lot of other good porpoises. A good thing to do to optimize your self-care routine is to boil water at night when you go to bed, let it cool of a little and pour it in a thermos. Keep the thermos by your bed and drink it in the morning when you wake up before breakfast. This way you help the body and to get rid of all the acids that the body has been busy trying to gather and transport to your kidneys so you can pee em out in the morning. Water is also essential for our lymphatic system to flow easy within our body. The lymphatic system is a big part of our detoxification system since it transports fats around to the right places and removes waste and end-products that no longer serve us. If there isn’t enough water flowing around in our systems, it´s more likely that there will be blocks and build-ups of internal waste within our lymph nodes and that leads to poor detoxification and more toxins that needs to find their way out somehow. Since our body is a really smart organism, it will do what it can to protect us from these toxins and start directing the toxins towards our skin to get them out that way. Keep in mind that our skin is the biggest organ in our body and also one of our most important ways to get rid of toxins.
  • Get good quality sleep. Sleep a minimum of 6-8 hours.
    This is also somewhat individual. But going to sleep between 21.00-22.30 pm and waking up between 05.30-07.00 am is a good reference. Because it’s when you are sleeping, the immune system is awake and starts to work on fixing the damage that you have done during the day ;). The body also produces a lot of hormones and builds up new proteins when you are snoozingway under your covers.
  • Spend time outside in nature! It helps you to de-stress, calm and clear your mind. A clear and open mind is less effected by stress and negativity and that creates a good foundation for a healthier system within. Stress is one of our worst enemies that steal a lot of nutrient (including B-vitamins, zinc and magnesium) that we need to heal and repair our skin and internal organs. 
  • Movement and exercise. This should be in a way that is beneficial for you and that gives you energy and not leaves you feeling drained and exhausted. Tune in to your own needs, what makes you feel good, energized and happy? Is it gentle yin yoga, a walk around the lake or is it an intensive HIIT-class or a round with the weights in the gym? Exercise should always start from your own terms and goals.
  • Oils, steam baths and sauna. Because circulation and sweat is needed to get the toxins out of the system. Gentle blood circulating and stimulating massage like lymphatic massage and dry-brush before shower. This helps the circulation and detoxification of your skin and removes dead skin cells so that new can be made. It also helps the oils and creams that you apply to your skin to do their job properly so that you can shine like the goddess you are! 

That’s easy!
The Linden Flower Toner from Bare Origin! It´s like a gentle stroke on your face from someone you love or like stepping out on the porch at your summer house really early in the morning and smell the light summer rain… It´s just dreamy!
I also like to add oils to my skin depending on the seasons and climate. During the wintertime my skin gets really sensitive and dry. Then I feel that I need more structure and moisture from a cream. But during the spring and summertime, I love to apply oils that support my naturally fair and light skin. Since I have an overall sensitive skin that has a lot of red pigment, I am also very sensitive to the sun. So to support and protect my skin, I love to use the rosehip seed oil since that is so high in the antioxidants vitamin C, beta carotenes, vitamin A and essential fatty acids like omega 3. The vitamin C and A also assists in building up the collagen in your skin to keep it smooth and assist in regenerating and healing. 

Balance between musts and wants
Honoring your own limitations and boundaries
Working towards a better and more sustainable me so that I can put more of me into working for a more sustainable society and planet

I hope this will inspire you to take some small steps towards a lifestyle that will support you and your everyday life. And remember that health and healthcare is not a competition or a race, It´s not about doing or being the best in this or that. It´s all about what makes you feel good about you and your own life.

I would like to end this with a few words that one of my wise yoga teachers once told me:



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