Foods for great hair, skin, and nails
For clear skin, strong nails and lush hair, what you eat is as important as the beauty products you use. Here’s what to eat so you glow from the inside out.
Oily fish features in most healthy-eating plans and that includes one for beautiful skin, hair and nails. “Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties and are vital for healthy cell membranes which are important for keeping your skin healthy and soft,” says Dietitian and WW Program Developer, Nicole Stride. For this reason, it’s recommended you eat oily fish at least twice a week. Sardines and mackerel are great choices, but wild salmon is a particularly good source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to improve elasticity and moisture levels in the skin.
For the perfect beautifying snack, keep some almonds on hand. They’re a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to prevent free radical damage that ages skin. They’re also rich in biotin, a B vitamin that helps keep hair and nails strong (that’s why it’s usually the main ingredient in beauty products). Just a few almonds do the trick.
3. Greek yoghurt
There is positive health and beauty research on whey protein, the watery stuff on top of some yoghurts. Yoghurt is a good source of protein and vitamin B5, which help maintain strong, healthy hair and nails.
Pizza and pasta fans rejoice! Thanks to their lycopene content, tomatoes are a great addition to your beauty menu. This potent antioxidant works to neutralise free radicals that damage the skin. Your body readily absorbs lycopene when it’s cooked, so think pasta sauces and baked tomatoes.
No one wants to look like one, but prunes are one of the best foods for helping to achieve smooth, young-looking skin. They pack a hefty antioxidant punch, containing even higher levels than their fresh counterpart the plum. Add a few chopped prunes to your muesli.
“Nutrient deficiencies often impact the health of nails or hair,” says Stride. “Being deficient in zinc can lead to hair loss, whilst a deficiency in iron may result in curved nail beds.” Do your hair and nails a favour by eating more kangaroo. Not only is it low in saturated fat, it has 25 per cent more iron than lamb, and a 150g serve provides nearly 75 per cent of your daily zinc requirements. It’s also a good source of CLA, a nutritional star that may be prescribed for dry skin.
7. Green Tea
The concept of inner-beauty foods is relatively new in the Western world, however countries such as Japan have been aware of dietary practices for beauty for centuries. Green tea has been extensively studied and, according to the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties when consumed regularly.
You’re better off eating avocado than using it as a face mask. “Avocado provides a rich source of monounsaturated fats and contains phytonutrients that may improve skin health,” says Stride. Not only are they a good source of antioxidant vitamins E, C and B6, but emerging research has shown that eating avocado may boost the soluble collagen in your skin – the main protein that keeps it firm, smooth and perky.
9. Red grapes
Filling your plate with a rainbow of colours is the best way to ensure you get a variety of antioxidants. Be sure to include red grapes in your fruit bowl as they have high levels of polyphenol antioxidants. The skin contains resveratrol that may help slow the effects of ageing.
10. Sweet potato
When you eat pumpkin or sweet potato, your body converts the beta-carotene they contain into retinol – an ingredient contained in many high-end beauty products. “Retinol plays a role in strengthening the epithelial cells in the body,” says Stride. These cells make up our skin, as well as other parts of the body, so keeping them healthy is a crucial part of any good skincare routine. Apricots and rockmelon are also sources.
Eggs make a cracking breakfast. Just one egg delivers zinc, selenium, iron, folate and omega-3 fats, making them a nutrient powerhouse. They’re particularly good for eye health too, due to their lutein content. Try this for brekkie: Scramble 1 egg with 1 chopped tomato. Serve on top of 1 (35g) slice of high-fibre wholegrain toast with 1 tsp toasted pumpkin seeds, for added vitamin E.
Why you are what you eat
The human body is made up of different kinds of cells, which are made of molecules that are made up of atoms. All of these undergo reactions via changing chemical bonds. The first step to taking care of your body is providing your cells with good nutrition through eating healthy food. The next step is fighting free radicals. Oxidation is a reaction that can split the chemical bonds and produce free radicals, which may damage cells. The damage is thought to result in increased risk of disease and premature ageing. The weapons for fighting free radical damage and stopping the chain reaction are all around us, particularly in fruit and vegetables. The natural compounds in fruit and veg have antioxidant activity that neutralise the damage caused by free radicals. “Aim for 5 serves of veg and 2 serves of fruit a day – all different brightly coloured foods to help get a range of vitamins and phytonutrient antioxidants,” says Stride.