wellness theories

Olivia Munn on Anti-Aging Japanese Potatoes and Homemade Almond Milk

Olivia Munn believes in anti-aging Japanese potatoes and carbs.
Olivia Munn believes in anti-aging Japanese potatoes and carbs. Photo: John Salangsang/BFA.com

Olivia Munn appeared most recently as Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse; before that, she was Senior Asian Correspondent on The Daily Show, Sloan Sabbith on The Newsroom, and a girl who uses Channing Tatum for his body in Magic Mike. The face of Proactiv is also the owner of a rescue Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Chance Rodgers (who probably has more Instagram followers than you).

The Cut talked to Munn about anti-aging Japanese superfoods, training for X-Men, and not looking sad and hungry. 

How I start my mornings: My wake-up time varies depending on when I’m shooting and how late I’m going. If I didn’t have an alarm, it would probably be around 9 a.m. Usually after I wake up, I take my dog on a walk or take him outside and hang out. I wash, tone, and moisturize with Proactiv, and put some sunscreen on my face, neck, and chest every morning.

I started making organic almond milk from scratch last summer and do it about every two to three days. I’ll make a smoothie in the morning with my almond milk — I’ll add mangos, strawberries, some agave, and flaxseed. If I can’t do that, I grab a few bananas and a spoonful of peanut butter.

My trainer for X-Men taught me about how to make almond milk. I never liked milk before, but when I made it, it was so delicious — I could really taste the difference. Once I saw the effects and how my body felt, I thought, Why not do it.

What wellness means to me: When I think of wellness, I think of a vial of vitamins in a health-food store. I don’t personally use the word wellness; I don’t have a connection with it. But a goal of mine since last summer is getting to a place where my body and mind are energized and calm. My goal is to get as physically fit as I can for my body.

How wellness has changed for me: My goals before were always about losing this much weight, or trying to make sure I could fit into this pair of jeans — they were always goals that I could measure out. But I stopped focusing on anything that I could measure out. Instead, I’ve been focusing on how I feel. I want to feel strong; anything else that happens is a side effect of being healthy and fit. If I had to say what wellness means, it would be about getting to a place where mind and body are energized, you feel strong and healthy, and you’re sleeping well.

How I sweat: I started working on X-Men, and doing tae kwon do and floor work. It was better than all the regular personal-training-type things I was doing, where you do weights, crunches, and squats. It’s better for me to do things that are more skill-oriented, so my brain is focusing on accomplishing a skill rather than, say, doing ten squats. I end up getting a better workout. When I came back to LA, I started doing Body by Simone, which I really loved. It’s fun because you keep moving. The exercises you’re doing feel like they’re working more than one muscle group at a time. It’s small, little challenges.

On Japanese potatoes: I watched a news report with Connie Chung about Yuzurihara, Japan. It’s called the “City of Long Life,” where there are 80 and 90-year-olds with no wrinkles, who do hard labor four to five hours a day. In this area where they live, they can’t grow rice, so they grow these certain potatoes: Japanese root potatoes and Japanese sweet potatoes. They’re high in hyaluronic acid.

When you’re younger, your body creates collagen, and as you get older, it doesn’t produce as much. You know when you wake up with a line on your face from a pillow? As you get older, those lines stay because we don’t have a lot of hyaluronic acid. [Editor’s note: Hyaluronic acid binds collagen with elastin.] The purpose of hyaluronic acid is to carry water to skin and prevent joints from getting rickety or hurting. When joints are lubricated, you don’t get injured as much.

I get my potatoes from a Japanese market. I’ll take one sweet potato, slice it into one-inch-thick slices, and then dust it with olive oil and cinnamon, put it in the oven, and do that as dessert. I’ll eat those as often as I can — a couple every day. The root potato is covered in dirt and has a slimy texture like okra. You can boil them or put them into a soup, which takes a little more preparation.

In eating them, I saw a huge difference. I started noticing it with my flexibility. Even though I had been working out over time, I was only able to go 40 percent into a split. And then, after months [of eating the potatoes], 80 percent into a split. I could see the difference. Usually, in the morning, I would get the pillow creases [on my face] and rub them out with lotion. Now, after a month of doing the potatoes every single day, the line would be gone as it was when I was younger. I know there are vitamins or supplements with hyaluronic acid, but I didn’t feel like I saw as much of a difference as I did getting it from the natural source.

My wellness struggle is: Staying on track. I know how to eat healthy and work out, but I fall off the track easily. Having a girlfriend to go work out with is the best way for me to keep it up. I’m much more likely to work out if I have a friend to sweat and cry with.

How I eat when I’m alone: Like a child who has finally grown up and can do whatever she wants. It’s horrible. I wake up, maybe eat something, maybe not. I eat chips, sandwiches, and most likely ramen. But I’m working on my eating habits and trying to make it easier to eat healthy, organic fruits and vegetables for most of the day. Like I said, I know what to do, I just don’t always do it. Maybe this will be the month that I finally get it together … or next month? [Laughs.]

My wellness shortcut is: The organic smoothies with homemade almond milk. It tastes like dessert, but it’s all-natural, so there’s no guilt.

My wellness advice is: To eat as clean as you can, but don’t stop enjoying the bad stuff too. A lot of people talk about these healthy lifestyles and show off their bodies, but if you meet some of these people in real life and see them without the filters, their skin isn’t so great. I don’t know if it’s because they’re not getting enough fat and oil in their diets, or because they’re just so sad and hungry. Eating healthy makes me feel great. But chocolate cake and cheese make me happy, too. At the end of the day, I’m probably not the best one to ask — I’m still eating ramen a few times a week.

This interview has been condensed and edited. 

Olivia Munn on Anti-Aging Japanese Potatoes