As a nutritionist, I am often asked about food and supplements that are good for the skin and hair. Did you know that the skin is our largest organ in the body?! Our skin is our protective barrier, and so it is important to maintain the integrity of this body system! Here are some tips on how to strengthen hair and nails, and keep that healthy skin glow!
- Water: Drink that water! Water is essential for almost every process in the body. A youthful and healthy skin is one that is hydrated properly. Pop, coffee and caffeinated teas can act as dehydrators in the body, so after consuming these types of drinks it is important to ensure you drink water. Not a fan of plain water? Try adding a tablespoon of pure unsweetened juice to a bottle or large glass of water. You’ll get the benefits of water without the artificial sweeteners, but you’ll still have some flavour.
- Include high water content foods into your daily diet, such as fruits and vegetables. This is easy to do in the summer when fresh produce is available at local markets!
- Moisturize with a natural lotion. Try picking up coconut oil (a solid), almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, or grapeseed oil at your local health food store. These oils are very good for dry skin. Just be aware that you will feel greasy after using them on your body, so you won’t be able to throw on your clothes for at least 10 minutes. There are many companies that make natural skin care products, just visit your local health food store for brands that leave the “bad” stuff out! Check out the Cosmetic Database and research skin care lines before you buy them!
- We often see digestive system imbalances show up as skin issues. It is important to chew your food properly, and supplement with probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that reside in your body and help out your digestive and immune system. ½ squeezed lemon in a glass of room temperature water is also a great way to jump start your digestive system.
- Essential Fatty Acids are important for the health of the skin, hair and nails. EFAs are good fats that our body requires. Eating fish a couple of times a week is a great way to get in the Omega 3 fatty acids that will help promote skin health. Other good fats to use are:
Flaxseed oil– use this as a salad dressing instead of olive oil, and add it to shakes and smoothies. Try incorporating 1-2 tbsp a day and work up to 3.
Hemp oil– I drizzle this on organic popcorn instead of butter. Start with 1-2 tbsp a day, and work up to 3.
Chia seeds– check out our dill dressing as a great dip that uses chia seeds, or simply spread them on salads or on cereal. Use 1-2 tbsp a day. Chia seeds are high in fiber and so once you incorporate them in your diet ensure that you add more water! More fiber means you need more water!
Hemp seeds– I just love eating these by the handful, but you can also sprinkle them on yogurt or use them in salads. Include 1-2 tbsp daily.
Raw nuts and seeds– try including walnuts in your breakfast cereal for an EFA boost! A handful will do!
You can also take an Omega 3 supplement, but be sure to always talk with your doctor or health care practitioner before starting any supplementation!
- Stress: Often stress can result in an imbalance in the skin, hair, and nails. It is important to locate the source of the stress and try to eliminate it. Foods high in B vitamins are important to help support the nervous system, give energy, and help the skin. Try including whole grains in your diet such as whole grain brown rice and whole grain pastas, whole grain breads, and whole wheat kernels. Nutritional yeast (you can buy this in health food stores-it tastes like cheese and can be sprinkled on popcorn or on casseroles!).
Try making our Asian Noodle Salad (see picture below) and use spelt soba noodles for a recipe that contains B vitamins. Or, pick up our cookbook for our Kids Soba Salad recipe which is kid-approved!
- Foods rich in Vitamin A will help support the skin by stimulating growth of skin cells. Foods rich in vitamin A are bell peppers, carrots, peaches, sweet potatoes, yams, and leafy green vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, kale, parsley and asparagus.
- Silicon is an essential mineral that gives strength to nails, hair, bone and tendons, and it helps maintain the elasticity of the skin. This mineral is found in lettuce, cucumbers, avocados, and strawberries.