With so many creams, lotions and cleansers now containing food ingredients, looking for beauty solutions in the drugstore is often a distraction from the importance of eating nutrient-rich foods.
It’s time to get back to basics: boosting the health of the “outside” always begins with nourishing your “inside”. That’s where a healthy diet comes in. While the benefits are well known for a varied diet containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, heart-healthy fats and proteins, there are some “value-added” foods that provide extra nutrients that also support healthy skin, hair and nails. Not to mention that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps keep you fully hydrated!
Both “macro” nutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and “micro” nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) are important for keeping your inside and outside healthy. And if there’s a deficiency somewhere, it often shows up as unhealthy changes in your skin, hair or nails.
Take a look at some top foods that might help:
What to eat for dry skin
Dry skin needs fat to thrive and keep it thick, supple and moisturized. It’s an overall lubricant for body cell function. Try heart healthy fats like avocados, almonds and olive oil. Aim to add a serving at each meal when you can.
One of the biggest nutrient powerhouses among fruits and vegetables are tomatoes — providing your skin with loads of antioxidants to help reduce cellular damage to the skin. Tomatoes contain all four types of “carotenoids” (vitamin A family) including lycopene a well-known impactful antioxidant. Plus vitamins A, C and E, potassium and water. They’re easy to incorporate into daily eating whether fresh, cooked or canned, and readily available in different shapes, sizes and colors (which provide different antioxidants).
What to eat for brittle hair:
Healthy hair always needs protein to thrive. Without it hair can thin out, break or be brittle. And eggs are nature’s most easily digested protein that is easily used by the body. B vitamins are also important and eggs are a rich source of biotin — a key B vitamin for healthy hair, making it more resistant to breakage. They also contain a modest amount of fat, which helps hydrate hair. The egg yolk is especially rich in nutrients, including vitamins D and E. And the good news is that whole eggs are fine to eat, according to the American Heart Association one whole egg a day (7 eggs/week) can be part of a healthy diet.
Tree nuts like almonds also have a top nutrient combination for healthy hair: complete protein and heart-healthy fats. Almonds contain two-thirds of your daily vitamin E intake and lots of B vitamins. They also contain a wide range of nutrients many people don’t get enough of, like magnesium, manganese and copper. Not a fan of almonds? Walnuts and pistachios are other nuts with heart-healthy fats and protein.
What to eat for spotty/cracked nails:
Damaged and weak nails often reflect nutrient deficiencies, like protein, iron and B vitamins. A great one-two punch is bran cereal with raisins. Boost your iron intake with raisins, a very rich source (unless you prefer liver which is a top source!). Bran is an especially good source of whole grains, which contain zinc, an important mineral for nail health.
To hit all the nutrient bases your nails need, try asparagus. Low in calories, easy to prepare (raw or cooked) and available all year round, these stalks contain nearly one-third of your daily need for folic acid plus vitamins A, C, E and K, potassium and phosphorus. It's also a great way to pack in a variety of nutrients for few calories.
While food is a good place to start, if your skin, hair or nail problems persist, it’s smart to check in with your doctor. And while dietary supplements can support — not replace — foods in your diet, get some medical advice before choosing them on your own.