BEAUTY BASICS: What is the secret to glowing hair, skin and nails?
As cheesy as this sounds, it is so true that in order to glow on the outside you must nourish yourself from the inside. If we aren’t nourishing our bodies then unfortuantely the appearance of our hair, skin and nails can suffer. You could look at that from a perspective of being vein and you could also look at it from the angle that your body is giving you a sign that you need to give it a bit more love. If you are lacking in minerals as you are not obtaining them through your diet it can result in thinning hair, inflamed and dull looking skin or nails that snap easily. We put hair under stress by colouring, straightening and curling - the list of treatments are long (guilty!) and the same goes with our skin - if you are not protecting it from the sun and letting it breathe (take your make up off!) then you know what happens.
If you would like to improve the appearance and health of hair, skin and nails you need to be looking at what you can eat to nourish and support it. Poor hair, skin and nail health are usually a sign of nutritional deficiencies which result from not eating the right nutrients or malabsorption issues. So what nutrients can help boost the health of our hair, skin and nails so we don’t have to solely rely on beauty treatments to improve their appearance? Read on...
Healthy fats such as Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFA's) are needed for shiny hair, a healthy scalp and strong nails. EFA's also provide the building blocks for healthy skin cells and hormones so thats another reason to include these fats into your diet. Foods that contain EFA's include nuts and seeds, fish (salmon!), avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil. I found that after having a baby, my hair and skin suffered. My hair looked dull, I had split ends and hair loss. My skin was dry, and I had frequent breakouts. I found that increasing EFA's in my diet and taking a fish oil supplement really helped to get my locks looking glossy and strong again, and my skin looking more hydrated.
Protein is vital for hair, skin and nails because it is the building block for all cells. We are litertally made of protein so the saying, you are what you eat, is very true. Protein produces keratin, the proteins that make hair and nails strong, and repairs skin. Without enough protein (not so common these days, but it does happen) our hair may begin to fall out, our skin can take longer to repair itself, and our nails can turn brittle. Foods containing the amino acid cysteine are especially important because cysteine is important in the production of Keratin. Foods that are rich in cysteine include chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and dairy.
Biotin is a B vitamin that plays a key role in fat and sugar metabolism. Biotin along with protein are needed to produce keratin, the protein that makes up hair, skin and nails. Biotin helps to strengthen hair, skin and nails, and prevent split ends. Foods that are rich in Biotin include salmon, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, carrots, kumara (sweet potato), eggs and oats.
Zinc is a mineral that promotes cell growth and repair so it makes sense to include sources of zinc in our diet to help grow our hair and nails and repair skin. Zinc is found in meat, seafood, oysters, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts and oats. If you have white spots on your nails, that can indicate a zinc deficiency. I love to add pumpkin seeds and walnuts to my oats in the morning or snack on them throughout the day.
Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that destroys free radicals that damage hair, skin and nails. By protecting the hair, skin and nails from damage, vitamin E boosts growth. Foods that are rich in vitamin E include almond, spinach, kumara (sweet potato), avocado, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts.
Water is needed to help flush our bodies of harmful toxins, help move nutrients into our cells and keeps our organs functioning at their best. Water helps eliminate toxins from the body and impurities from the skin, well hydrated skin will result in a healthy and glowing complexion. If we aren’t drinking enough water, our skin will become dehydrated and become dry and flaky (including our scalp). Dry skin has less resilience and is more prone to wrinkling. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day to help improve skin, nail and hair health. Eat foods that have a high water content to help with hydration, these include watermelon, cucumber, strawberries, pineapple and oranges.
I would love to hear what supplements or foods have helped improve your hair, skin and nail health.