If you’re like me, you’re confused about what you really need to eat to get glowing skin and gorgeous hair. Beauty-full Food is a new series on Hair Romance to sort through the noise and help you eat the best foods to get your glow on.
This week, Katie Rainbird of Katie180 is here to talk through what the top 5 nutrients (or nutrient groups) you need for beautiful skin and hair. Plus she give us an insight into the signs she looks for in a nutritional consult.
When sitting with a client for a nutritional consult I am mindful to take in their whole appearance whilst listening to them speak about their health history and diet.
I look at their facial skin: is it even toned or blotchy, blemished, dry, oily, do they pick at it, scratch it – subconsciously or with nervous energy?
Is their hair full and healthy looking, or dull and dry?
What about their hands? Smooth, plump skin with full with pinkish nails or dry, rough skin with bitten, split, cracked or bleeding nails and fingertips?
I also ask to check hands and nails, eyes and inside the mouth as well as take a closer look at their faces.
I do all of this because how we present outwardly is telling of what may be going on inwardly. Our skin will show to the world when there is imbalance or disease present internally and so too will our hair and nails.
Dry, cracked or rough skin, hair or nails can indeed by caused by the environment (air conditioning, over-heating, cold, wind, excessive moisture for example) but there are certainly nutritional considerations to make for the function, integrity and appearance of these structural proteins.
When we eat protein rich foods our bodies break them down then assimilate them into new proteins.
But it’s not just about protein and when I say protein it’s not just about meat. It’s about eating a variety of plant and animal sourced proteins with complementary vitamins and minerals as well as lovely luscious fats. And about staying hydrated!
The top 5 nutrients for gorgeous skin and hair
My Top 5 Nutrients (or nutrient groups) for the health of skin, hair and nails is as follows:
1. Protein: the building blocks of these tissues.
(Ideally free range, ethically farmed) red and white meat, sustainably caught seafood – the oilier the better!, free range eggs, beans, lentils, pulses, whole grains (brown rice, pasta, quinoa, barley, oats etc.) nuts and seeds and nut and seed oils (NOT vegetable oils though – I’m talking cold pressed nut and seed oils), full cream dairy.
2. Fats: every cell of our body is covered in a double layer of fat.
One on the inside and one on the outside. This means that its watery inside area (intracellular) stays tightly regulated and also that its water outside area (extracellular) stays put and doesn’t leak into the inside and bust it open, spilling out its contents and killing it (and us, GAH!)
The better quality of fats we eat, the better quality our biological fatty material will be. Not only does fat protect each cell but it assists it in its cell to cell communication so that the genetic material copied from each cell is of premium order.
And fat is just lovely and nourishing and soft and juicy and keeps things full and plump.
So eat fat with confidence:
Full cream dairy, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, nuts, seeds and their oils, fat from animal products when we cook them, avocados, oily fish.
Essential fatty acids from oily fish, fish liver oils and/or these supplements would be my first line go-to as a supplement recommendation in a dry hair/skin picture.
Hemoglobin is a transport protein that carries oxygen (bound to iron) around to all cells of the body. Cells deprived of oxygen perish. Poorly oxygenated hair and skin cells will appear as such.
When we think of iron we do easily consider red meat but we can obtain dietary iron from dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, dried apricots, prunes, dates, figs, sea vegetables, lentils, beans and blackstrap molasses.
4. Vitamin C:
Primarily because iron and vitamin C have a synergistic relationship (iron is more readily absorbed in the presence of vitamin C) but also because vitamin C works with other minerals (zinc and calcium namely) to build connective and structural tissue. Also it supports immunity, so underlying infection and inflammation that may be causing poorly hair and skin will benefit from the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions of vitamin C.
Eat widely: citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, paw paw, papaya, mango, berries, tomatoes, parsley, dark green leafy vegetables, bitter green vegetables (watercress, collard, radicchio), capsicum.
5. Vitamin A:
It was hard for me to choose just five nutrients because there are always more you can add to the line up, but really vitamin A has to feature when we’re talking the health of skin.
I wanted to choose the B-group vitamins, specifically biotin, but I’d guess that with bread, pasta, cereals and other grains and legumes; most people probably get their B-group baseline dosage into them each day.
But most people probably don’t eat oily fish, liver oils or bitter greens.
Vitamin A is very important to the replication of skin cells, and the healing of skin tissue.
I would suggest supplementing with cod liver oil if your diet is poor or deficient in vitamin A.
Food sources: liver and liver oils, bitter greens/leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash, eggs.
So basically … the message is EAT the structural components of your skin and hair tissue and support the structure of these tissues with the vitamins and minerals that participate in their synthesis and keep them effectively communicating for replication with essential fatty acids.
And drink water. Sip it regularly throughout the day ensuring you get through at least a couple of 500mL bottles.
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Katie! Head over to Katie180 for more real life food advice.
What do you eat to treat your skin and hair? Do you have any favourite recipes?