Eating the right type of foods can help to improve the quality of your skin, hair and nails
The types of food you consume can impact the health of your skin, hair and nails. Sarah McManus, a lecturer in Dermal Therapies at Victoria University emphasises on the importance of diet. She says, “A wellbalanced diet with a variety of foods and nutrients is the best approach.”
For Firmer Skin
Recommended food: Lean Meat And Fish
Collagen and elastin play a vital role in keeping skin firm and supple. These two proteins work together to give skin the elasticity and youthful glow we all yearn for. By opting for protein-rich foods we provide the nutrients our skin needs to regenerate.
Protein is also a powerful skin healer. “It’s the building block for skin, hair and nails,” says Dr Kellie Bilinski, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
Requirements: Women below the age of 50 only require 2.5 serves of protein a day. A standard serve is 65 g of cooked lean red meat, 80 g of cooked chicken, a cup of legumes such as chickpeas or lentils, or two large eggs.
For Stronger Hair And Nails
Recommended food: Nuts
Lack of selenium-rich foods will make your hair break easily and your nails brittle. For a quick fix, grab a couple of Brazil nuts for your next snack. Brazil nuts are not only one of the richest food sources of the mineral selenium, but a powerful antioxidant as well. Two Brazil nuts a day is enough to boost your levels.
Requirements: You can keep your selenium levels topped up by consuming wholegrains, seafood, garlic and eggs as a regular part of your diet. Tuna is also rich in selenium.
For Avoiding Thinning Hair
Recommended food: Eggs
Thinning hair is not restricted to men, so start boosting your levels of biotin (vitamin B7). This little-known B-complex vitamin may aid keratin production; keratin is a protein that keeps hair and nails strong.
“Without adequate levels of biotin, hair and nails become weak and are prone to breaking and snapping,” says Sarah.
Requirements: Have two large eggs, a small handful of nuts, or a cup of cooked or canned legumes several times a week.
For Hydrated Skin
Recommended food: Avocado
By eating smashed avocado and smoked salmon for breakfast, you’ll be feeding your skin essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-6 and omega-3. Our skin needs both for improved hydration, texture and softness.
EFAs also encourage production of essential skin protein collagen. “Without sufficient EFAs our skin, hair and nails tend towards dryness,” says Sarah. EFAs are also known for their anti inflammatory and immunity-regulating properties. So women who suffer from eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis may find them helpful for these skin issues too.
Requirements: A small can of salmon or half an avocado each day, or enjoy a handful of nuts or 30 g of seeds.
For Reducing UV Damage
Recommended food: Green Tea
Green tea and blueberries contain the antioxidant vitamins C and E. These help protect skin against UV radiation damage, the cause of fine lines and discolouration. Vitamin C also helps skin heal after an injury.
Requirements: Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin so your body will only absorb the amount it needs. But on average, women need about 75 mg a day. You can get your daily dose of vitamin C from three-quarters of a cup of orange juice or two small kiwi fruits. A cup of blueberries contains around 14 mg of vitamin C. Adding a splash of fruit juice to a cup of green tea will further boost the antioxidants you get from the tea.
For Healthy Hair And Skin
Recommended food: Steak
Vitamin B12 promotes healthy hair growth by helping red blood cells deliver oxygen to your hair and skin. “Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the development of healthy skin cells,” adds Dr Bilinski.
If you are vegetarian, do ensure that you are getting enough B12 in your diet by including milk, yoghurt and some cheeses like Swiss cheese.
Requirements: Enjoy 659 g of cooked lean beef or half a dozen oysters. Top up your vitamin B12 with 80 g of cooked turkey, a small can of salmon or twothirds of a cup of fortified breakfast cereals.
For Reducing Fine Lines
Recommend food: Carrots
Consuming beta-carotene foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes and kale aids your body to produce wrinkle-busting retinol or vitamin A. Do include animal products like liver, eggs, dairy and fatty fish in your diet for a bigger dose of retinol.
“Vitamin A also helps our skin exfoliate itself which helps with smoothness, and it supports collagen production to reduce signs of ageing,” says Sarah.
Requirements: Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and regularly include grassfed animal sources in your diet. W
DASGERS OF SUGAR
If you enjoy a highsugar diet, your skin may pay the ultimate price. High blood sugar levels affect your skin health and gradually lead to a process called glycation. This is when the proteins in the skin, like collagen and elastin, connect and become enmeshed with each other. This can lead to a loss of suppleness and elasticity in the skin.
“So your skin doesn’t have that spring and it doesn’t bounce back and look youthful,” says Sarah. “Instead skin fibres become inflexible and there’s a tendency to wrinkling and sagging.”
The sad thing is glycation is permanent. It cannot be reversed but eating healthily and reducing the sugar in your diet will prevent further effects of glycation.