These days the market is filled with beauty products that promise glowing skin, diminished wrinkles and an overall younger more vibrant you (who doesn't want that!?). However, the majority of what we read and hear is related to topical or external products. It fails to address the impact of what we put IN our bodies rather than what we put ON our bodies has on our external appearance. This is not to say these topical products don’t work! I have a few of my own that I LOVE and refuse to give up. BUT, there are some nutritional considerations we should make that can lead to improvements in health and appearance of our hair, nails and skin.
The typical American diet is lacking or missing many important nutrients preventing us from getting all the necessary nutrition our bodies need. In fact, even if you have a decent diet you’re probably still missing out on some essential nutrients. It’s possible but not easy to meet nutritional needs with fresh food so I often recommend a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps with most my clients. If you’re looking specifically to improve hair skin and nails there are a few things you’ll want to take into consideration. I’ve answered some of the most common questions I get related to nutritional beauty below.
What certain types of foods (or nutrients) do you suggest for healthy skin and hair?
Berries -- The antioxidants help rid your body of impurities!
Watermelon -- The high water content, plus lycopene, helps protect skin cells from free radical damage.
Papaya -- It’s high in vitamin C, which helps rebuild collagen and gives your skin a youthful appearance, plus beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins B & K, which help reduce dark circles, eliminate redness, and even skin tone.
Avocado -- Not only loaded with healthy fats, but also contains vitamin E, which protects your skin from oxidative damage, and vitamin C that helps rebuild collagen. Even better, pair avocado with carotenoid-rich veggies, like carrots, to absorb this vitamin A or retinoid precursor, which has been shown to smooth roughness.
Walnuts -- full of healthy fats and vitamin E
Fish -- especially tuna, shrimp, and salmon -- These fish are high in selenium, which protects your cells against oxidative damage and recycles vitamin C for even more protection. Additionally, salmon is packed with healthy fats to help your skin glow.
Selenium is great for your skin, hair and nails. It protect your cells against oxidative damage and recycles vitamin C for even more protection, ultimately protecting and reducing the effects of aging. Just 1-2 Brazil nuts a day can boost your levels. Mushrooms are also high in selenium.
How can someone treat brittle nails, dry skin, split ends with nutrition?
Protein is essential for skin turnover and hair growth. If your diet is deficient in protein, your body will direct the small amount of protein you eat to more essential bodily functions, neglecting your hair, skin, and nails.
Water -- hydration is essential to remedy dry skin and split ends!
Addressing any possible vitamin deficiencies is also important.
Biotin deficiency has been known to cause hair loss and brittle nails. Supplementing with biotin may cause hair to grow back and nails to improve. However, this effect is only seen when an individual is already deficient or low in biotin.
Iron deficiency can also lead to dry and brittle hair, skin, and nails. Try eating dark leafy greens with orange slices or cashews with berries to boost your iron and vitamin C intake. These combinations will help your body better absorb the iron you consume. Avoid pairing iron-rich foods with dairy (or calcium-rich foods) because it blocks the absorption.
An iodine deficiency, which can lead to hypothyroidism, can also result in brittle nails, dry skin and hair. If you think you may have thyroid issues, you should check with your doctor.
*If you are eating a well-balanced diet and still experiencing these symptoms, it may be beneficial to speak with your physician because you may have an underlying deficiency or hormone imbalance.
What are some of the worst foods that you can eat in regards to skin, hair, and nail health?
Refined carbohydrates are some of the worst foods you can eat for your hair, skin, and nails because they are metabolized directly into sugar (another no-no to get shiny hair and glowing skin!).
Alcohol is extremely dehydrating, which can lead to dull skin and hair.
Fried and greasy foods are loaded with oxidized, saturated fats, which can make your skin look dull and drab.
Dairy has been shown to cause breakouts and inflammation in some people. If you’re prone to breakouts, you may want to try cutting back or eliminating dairy from your diet and see if it helps.
If meeting nutritional needs are not feasible through diet than there are some supplement consideration to make. First, it is important to note that most supplements are not carefully regulated for the FDA so it is important to do your research so you know what you are ingesting. Studies show that many supplements contain only a fraction of what the label claims, so be sure you find a reputable supplement. Check to see if your supplement is NSF certified, which ensures the dietary supplement does not contain excessive levels of contaminants that may be harmful to your health. You can read more about NSF certification here: http://www.nsf.org/services/by-industry/dietary-supplements/supplement-safety/.
If you have any additional questions related to this post, shoot me a message on the contact page! I'm always happy to hear from you!