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Beauty: From the inside out

While lotions and potions are touted as the key to eternal youth, the produce on your plate may prove to be your most reliable cosmetic products.

Beauty: From the inside out

Every cell in the body requires specific nutrients in order for it to function as best it can. This includes the cells making up hair, skin and nails. Internal nourishment is therefore the key to maintaining external beauty.

Hair, skin and nails are a direct reflection of how healthy a person is on the inside. While a balanced diet will provide the array of nutrients needed for growing and maintaining hair, skin and nail cells, it is how well the body uses those foods that will make the difference.

A healthy digestive system plays a key role here. To ensure digestion is optimal and nutrient absorption is at its best, kick-start digestion by beginning the day with a squeeze of lemon juice in warm water and, at some point before breakfast, a good quality probiotic.

Keeping the liver and bowel clean makes a world of difference to external cells. Once overloaded, these organs may push toxins out through the skin, resulting in blemishes. Regular and complete bowel movements will help to keep skin glowing, as opposed to a constipated bowel, which commonly causes breakouts. Keeping the bowel hydrated and consuming foods high in fibre, such as oat bran, will help.

A congested and toxic liver will have the same result. Consuming foods that keep the liver clean such as garlic, onion, and cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower, will provide good levels of liver-cleansing sulphur. Swapping your second coffee of the day for a dandelion root tea will help keep the liver clean while reducing the dehydration caused by excess caffeine.

In Chinese medicine, the skin is considered to be the third kidney. Another elimination organ, kidneys work constantly to keep the blood filtered, ensuring it is clean. Consuming water throughout the day will support the kidneys in keeping the blood clean, which in turn helps to keep the cells of hair, skin and nails healthy.

A key structural component of hair and nails is the protein keratin. Protein is therefore essential to the health of these cells. A diet high in good-quality protein will help to keep these cells strong and able to repair and regenerate after damage, for example from sun exposure. Choose protein such as eggs and oily fish to provide good levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These help restore moisture needed for glowing skin and hair as well as healthy nail beds.

Minerals such as silica and biotin are important for providing strength to these cells. A B-complex vitamin, biotin is water-soluble and cannot be stored, which is why the body requires a regular supply. Biotin is produced by intestinal bacteria, another reason to keep a healthy digestive tract with good numbers of favourable bacteria.

Thyroid disorders and other hormone imbalances, including polycystic ovary syndrome or adrenal fatigue, can influence the appearance of hair, skin and nails. It is important to seek professional advice from a qualified practitioner in these cases.

During pregnancy there can be a loss of nutrients such as zinc and iron, commonly resulting in hair thinning and loss, brittle nails and tired-looking skin. By getting high amounts of these nutrients before, during and after pregnancy, these deficiency-related symptoms can be reduced.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can often be seen in nails, which may be brittle with ridges. This can be a risk for those following vegetarian and vegan diets and supplementation is often necessary.

A copper deficiency can be present if hair is dull with little colour. Early signs of greying can be attributed to this and consuming dark leafy greens, prunes and cocoa may help.

Adrenal stress depletes the body of vitamin C, which is an essential vitamin to healthy skin that can reduce the appearance of blemishes as well increase skin tone. During times of increased stress, foods high in vitamin C such as kiwifruit and capsicum are a good addition to the diet.

Spinach and silverbeet

Spinach and silverbeet are a powerhouse of nutrients, providing high amounts of iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, vitamins B, C and E, omega-3 essential fatty acids as well as lutein, an antioxidant within the carotenoid group.


Tomatoes are one of the richest sources of the anti-ageing antioxidant lycopene. To make the
most of the lycopene available in tomatoes,
it is best to cook them first. Keep a jar of homemade pasta sauce with basil and
garlic on hand – it can double as pizza sauce.


These juicy little fruits are super high in vitamin C, which works to keep our skin firm and reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Enjoy these tasty fruits chilled, as a sweet indulgence after dinner. They’re also delicious chopped up on porridge or cereal.


High in omega-3 and vitamin E, walnuts help keep blood vessels strong, reducing the risk of broken capillaries. There are so many ways to enjoy this health-giving nut, including: add to a smoothie or include some chopped walnuts on your morning porridge for an energising start to the day; make your own pesto – combine basil, walnuts, olive oil and garlic in a food processor and serve with pasta or on sandwiches; or add chopped walnuts to your favourite summer salad for extra texture.


Oysters are rich in zinc, an essential mineral required for the renewal and repair of skin cells. Zinc is also essential to the growth of strong hair and nails, providing the perfect reason to enjoy some freshly shucked oysters.


This snack provides a high amount of calcium, which is needed to keep nails strong and less likely to break. Blend with blueberries and freeze to make your own healthy frozen yoghurt dessert.

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