You may have noticed that for most people, their skin, nails and hair reflect their general inner-health status and aging. In fact, one government report found that for centuries scientists and physicians linked appearance to internal health! This report goes on to say that “[Natural vitamins and enzymes] possess potent anti-oxidant properties and have been widely used in the skin care industry . . . to prolong youthful skin appearance.” By the way, this is a fascinating report and actually links nutrition to good skin, hair and nail health — after you finish reading this blog, go read it!
Yes, indeed, beauty is more than skin deep. And, now you know that it actually starts with what you eat. Yet, while giving skin, hair and nails massive attention while grooming, we tend to take hair and nail health for granted. So, let’s start by focusing on your skin-care.
Quick Pop Quiz:
When you have a skin problem, do you:
- a) go to the spa and visit a masseuse-beautician;
- b) make an appointment with an esthetician;
- c) book a dermatologist (of you can get a referral); or
- d) all the above?
When I asked the customers at our juice bar what they did to maintain good skin, hair and nail health, these were the overwhelming answers. Sure, a spa visit ‘(a)’ will make you feel good (for a while), and many skilled estheticians can cover up ‘flaws’ (your face is a canvas, they say!), and a dermatologist ‘(c)’ can prescribe drugs — for internal and topical use (side note: if you suspect you might have skin cancer run, don’t walk, to a dermatologist now(!)).
Unfortunately, none of these professionals is likely to ask you: ‘what are you eating?’
Simply put, when you eat in alignment with your body’s needs, your skin should be tighter, expressive, and radiant — ‘glowing’ as some say.
I don’t mean to dismiss creams — much of what you put ON your skin ends up in your bloodstream, organs and tissues. Don’t believe me? Try placing two garlic cloves in each of your socks one night, and, of course, wear them to bed. The next morning, from head to toe, your skin will smell like garlic (and, you’ll have to wash your sheets). Of course, this is also why muscle rubs like Aspercream® work.
Similarly, what you eat works its way ‘outside’ — to your skin, hair and nails.
Quick side-bar: I’m astounded that so many doctors ignore diet. Yet, by saying “Eat. These. Pills.” aren’t they affirming that what we eat matters? Just say’n . . .
Consider Acne …
“[i]n the 1960s, several research groups explored the relationship between chocolate and acne.” But for many years, much the medical community just ignored these findings and went on treating acne with medications (remember “Benzoyl Peroxide”?) to suppress the acne inflammation rather than looking for the core cause (which, as you’d guess, in many cases was from eating chocolate).
Isn’t it interesting that acne is considered an epidemic skin issue of industrialized countries, where the rates of fresh produce consumption have fallen continuously for decades (the acne prevalence rates are over 85% for teenagers).
Unfortunately, those seeking help with acne often seek advice from dermatologists and skin specialists, but few think about asking a nutritionist. When you think about it, why wouldn’t you want to know how getting high-quality nutrition could clear up your acne and improve your appearance?
So, What Builds Skin, Hair and Nails?
Collagen, zinc, copper, vitamin C, and silica, for starters.
Maybe you’ve noticed that recently beauty products and anti-aging creams having Vitamin C are being ‘pushed’ in advertising? Did you know that Vitamin C is required for collagen building (also, a quick warning: ascorbic acid is synthetic and not true vitamin c)? The cited report goes on to suggest drinking, you guessed it, orange juice! “Orange juice helps to make you look young and enhances the beauty of your skin.” And, oh, by the way, your body uses collagen to make bones, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. And, since we’re talking about ‘beauty’ in this blog, let us not forget that collagen provides a natural face-lift by making our skin more elastic. As posted in an early blog, when it comes to orange juice, fresh-squeezed is always best!
People are catching on to what vitamin C can do in creams, but why limit the results to cream-based absorption (which, especially for vitamin C, is not very effective)?
For example, your body uses Silica and Zinc to grow and strengthen nails and hair. Your body also uses Silica with collagen to make your skin more elastic. And, your body also uses sulfur and copper found in many green and carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables to work generate skin, nails and hair.
Love Your Skin From The Inside Out
The role that nutrition plays in many skin disorders is well known.
- Bell peppers
- Orange juice
Also, avoid foods that deplete your body of minerals that means: NO Transfats, Xenoestrogens, and processed Sugars.
Perhaps you’re irritated by other skin issues — such as eczema, psoriasis, chronic hives, or keratosis pilaris, or any of a bundle of cosmetic skin issues (such as dark circles). Often, the causes of these problems, as you’ve already read in the case of acne, are more than skin deep. For these, what you avoid eating can be more important than eating the right foods (see the foods to avoid, below, and click on the links for more information about each of these skin conditions.