Every cell in the body requires specific nutrients in order for it to function as best it can. We need to nourish our bodies with good food so our skin, hair, and nails can be nourished in return. Internal nourishment is, therefore, the key to maintaining external beauty.
A healthy digestive system is integral. 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.
Look After Your Organs
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.
Protein, Minerals, and Vitamins
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.
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. Another thing to watch out for is adrenal stress depleting the body of vitamin C, which is an essential vitamin to healthy skin that can reduce the appearance of blemishes as well as improve skin tone. During times of increased stress, foods high in vitamin C, such as kiwifruit and capsicum, are a good addition to the diet.
A copper deficiency can be present if hair is dull with little colour. Early signs of greying can be attributed to this but it can be helped by consuming dark leafy greens, prunes, and cocoa.
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.
Try our Meatballs in Adobo Tomato 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.