There’s no better sign of a person’s state of health than the quality of their hair, skin and nails. These external features directly reflect your internal environment and require certain nutrients to function optimally. The most effective way to improve external features is through diet.
A diet containing good amounts of lean proteins, essential fatty acids, zinc, iron, calcium and selenium will provide the body with its necessary building blocks. Add these nutrients and foods to your meal plan for the best results.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a key nutrient in the production of collagen and elastin. During times of stress, this nutrient is quickly depleted adding to the physical “ageing” signs of stress. Kiwifruit, strawberries and red capsicum provide good amounts of vitamin C. These are best eaten raw since vitamin C is particularly sensitive to heat.
Betacarotene: Betacarotene is found primarily in orange coloured vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots, and converts to vitamin A in the body, as required. Vitamin A is essential to the health of hair, skin and nails improving conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and reducing dandruff.
B-coMplex vitamins: B-complex vitamins and vitamin E also contribute to the production of collagen. Good food sources of B-complex vitamins include nuts, seeds, wholegrains, beans, leafy green vegetables and broccoli. Since B vitamins are water soluble, these need to be consumed daily to maintain levels. There is a higher demand for B vitamins during times of stress or after physical exercise.
Phytoestorgens: Phytoestrogens promote healthy hair, skin and nails due to the role oestrogen has in not only promoting the production of collagen and elastin but also in preventing their breakdown. Eating whole and preferably organic sources of phytoestrogen-containing foods such as beans, soy beans, alfalfa and split peas will help.
Gelatin: Gelatin is formed when collagen is broken down and is therefore useful in its production. Gelatin can be sourced in high amounts from bone broths or soups made using whole carcasses due to the breakdown of bones.
Eggs: Not just a great source of protein, eggs are high in sulfur which is necessary for producing collagen and keratin. Make a simple, light dinner by scrambling with lots of greens.
Pumpkin seeds: Packed full of minerals including copper and zinc these little seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients that feed the cells of hair, skin and nails. Enjoy them on their own or add to stir-fries and salads.
Orange vegetables: Vegetables such as sweet potato, pumpkin butternut squash, dried apricots and carrots contain high levels of betacarotene, which promotes healthy mucous membranes – particularly in skin cells. Try baking them to make a colourful and healthy alternative to the potato chip. Yellow and red peppers also contain carotenoids that help skin cells.
Oysters: These shellfish are a great source of zinc – a mineral responsible for skin repair that also strengthens hair and nails. Oysters are also
a good source of selenium, a strong anti-inflammatory. Eat them natural or dress with finger lime juice.
Kiwifruit: This fruit is full of vitamin C, a vital ingredient in the production of collagen. Kiwi fruit also promotes healthy bowel function, which in turn keeps the skin glowing. To get all the fibre benefits, eat them whole rather than juiced.
Almonds: Almonds are the perfect snack to promote healthy hair, skin and nails as they are packed with a selection of minerals including zinc and selenium, along with good essential fatty acids to provide oils to the skin cells. Ideal for when you’re on the go.