You probably don’t realize it right now, but our bodies are constantly under construction. Cells die and get replaced with new ones all the time. It’s an ongoing maintenance, guys. The body doesn’t just rest on its laurels. It’s actually a very dynamic structure.
That’s why what we eat every day, plays a big part in the way we feel and look.
You’ve probably heard some people say: Food is fuel. Well, even if you’re not a body builder – this is true. Because the main role of diet is to provide the nutrients for the ongoing “renovation” in the body. The nutrients in our food are the building blocks that make this whole maintenance possible. Like in real life: no building blocks – no building, right?
It’s therefore no wonder that what we eat on a regular basis shows up in our skin, hair and nails. Because those are the tissues we can see on the outside. Deficiency in even one micronutrient can result in dry hair, brittle nails, breakouts or wrinkly skin. We can’t see what’s going on inside of us, but from the appearance of the skin, hair and nails you can often tell if somebody’s taking good care of themselves or not. If you’d like to read more about this, I’ve written a post about it here: 11 Reasons Why Diet Is Important For Beauty.
In order to have great skin, hair and nails we need foods that provide all the essential nutrients. Plus a little extra. To do that, we don’t need to invest in the newest food trends or the most expensive foods. The truth is, the most basic and simplest foods are all we need when it comes to great skin, hair and nails. Just, whole, natural foods.
A diet that consists exclusively of the “beauty foods” here can:
- prevent or slow down the development of wrinkles and skin aging in general (although keeping out of the sun is really important for this particular beauty problem – read more about it here)
- prevent skin breakouts
- enhance wound healing
- prevent skin conditions caused by virus or bacteria like herpes or acne
- provide a healthy complexion
- prevent hair loss
- moisturize skin
Aside from giving you healthy skin, hair and nails the foods here are shown to:
- improve immune system
- reduce inflammation
- provide antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress that causes aging and diseases
- enhance detoxification
- protect against heart & cardiovascular diseases
- prevent cancer
- protect against neurodegenerative diseases
They might even improve conditions like allergies, autoimmune diseases and infections. A good thing to remember is that the foods that are healthy for you are always good for your appearance.
Now let’s get to the specifics and see what we should actually eat for beauty and why.
What To Eat For Great Skin, Hair and Nails
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables should make the biggest part of your diet. No matter what crazy diet you’re trying right now, if fruits and vegetables are not the main part of it – it will not make you feel or look good LONG-TERM.
Fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic index, a lot of fiber & antioxidants and almost no calories. Which translated into a non-snob language means: Jackpot.
Fruits and vegetables do three very important things for the human body, they:
- reduce oxidative stress.
- get rid of inflammation.
- supply essential and non-essential nutrients.
And this, friends, is worth more than diamonds. Diamonds might be your best friend, but they do not reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
Both, oxidative stress and inflammation are associated with premature aging, different kinds of diseases, acne, psoriasis and wrinkles.
So when you eat more fruits and vegetables you’re actively preventing all these health issues. And you nourish your body (and skin) with water to moisturize, essential minerals and vitamins. Among others vitamin C, which is needed to build collagen– the protein that holds the whole body together and is essential for skin, hair and nails.
Fruits and vegetables also contain large amounts of phytochemicals. These molecules aren’t essential for the body, but they’re responsible for all the extra benefits of plant foods. When you say you want to have glowing skin, nice complexion or to feel energized – it’s the phytochemicals inside vegetables (and fruits) that can help you with all that.
Key here is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables – they all have different types of phytochemicals that work best in team. That’s when the magic happens. Don’t just focus on one type of fruit or vegetable. Sure kale might be great, but you know what’s better? A salad with more than one ingredient.
NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds come right after fruits and vegetables. They’re very antioxidant-rich, contain vitamin E, which acts synergistically with vitamin C to protect the skin from all evil, including UV-radiation. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of essential minerals like zinc and iron. Deficiencies in zinc and iron are known to cause skin and hair problems and by eating nuts and seeds, you can prevent this.
Nuts and seeds are also rich in polyunsaturated fats that are important for the maintenance of the skin barrier – the thing that keeps your skin cells hydrated and keeps the skin moisturized.
You can try having nuts and seeds as a snack in between meals. If you’d like you can also try my paleo and vegan lettuce wraps – the filling is made out of different nuts and seeds and resembles ground meat.
SPICES & HERBS
Herbs and spices are among my very favorite foods. They can do it all – anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and so antioxidant-rich. They’re amazing. In fact herbs and spices are so great that people used to cure a variety of diseases with them long long long before we were even born.
My favorites are definitely turmeric and garlic, as both of these are shown to help with various dermatological issues. Among others wound healing, hair loss and acne.
PULSES AND WHOLE GRAINS
Now, two foods avoided by millions are whole grains and pulses. Wonder why? These foods are low GI, high-fiber and proven to be great for weight loss.
On top many of them are a source of potential prebiotics – for example lentils and oats. Prebiotics are very important for healthy skin as they help grow good bacteria inside your gut. This then improves your immune system, overall health and the absorption of essential nutrients. All important for healthy, vibrant skin.
The fiber inside whole grains and legumes also helps get rid of potential toxins in the body quicker.
Legumes and whole grains are also a great source of protein, iron, folate, magnesium and zinc – all things that the skin needs.
OILS, FATTY FISH AND FERMENTED FOODS
Apart from whole foods and plants there are some other foods that can be beneficial for beauty.
- Olive oil and Coconut oil provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E, needed to maintain the skin barrier function. Also, these nutrients are important for the absorption of carotenoids found in vegetables. Carotenoids are important for healthy complexion and are considered a natural sunscreen.
- Whole grains and legumes might contain prebiotics, but fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut contain probiotics. Both of these improve digestion, your overall health and your skin health. The difference between prebiotics and probiotics is that prebiotics are the food for the bacteria inside your gut, while probiotics are the actual bacteria that you’re trying to bring into your gut. Probiotics are very important whenever you’ve taken antibiotics to bring the microflora back to normal.
- Last but not least, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna. Rich in omega-3’s, protein, vitamin B12 and Selenium, all important for your skin health. However, fish also contains a lot of mercury and toxins, so eat that in moderation.
Together these foods provide all the essential nutrients we need for healthy skin, hair and nails – vitamins and minerals, fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, phytochemicals, essential fatty acids and protein.
You might also like:
- 2 foods to avoid to get rid of acne
- 8 habits that might be making you look and feel prematurely old
- 8 diet changes for better skin
- The best 5 strategies to get rid of cellulite
NOTE: Some of the beauty foods might not be suitable for you. For example – if you have a certain intolerance or allergy, for example to gluten, fructose or nuts/seeds – it’s still best for you to avoid these foods. Or if you’re on a special diet like paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free – eat the foods that you love and that make you feel good – that’s always good for the skin.
Just make sure the foods you consume add value to your diet and your life.
Now, if you are ready to put these tips into action, make sure you try some of my healthy recipes that are also great for healthy, glowing skin.