Best Foods for Healthy Skin & Hair
How nutrition impacts skin and hair health
As we all know, what we put into our body affects our health significantly. Greasy foods like pizza and chips can clog your pores, and the resulting lack of nutrition can weaken your immune system, making it harder to regenerate skin cells and hair follicles. The impact to your health goes beyond the number on the scale—your nutrition affects your skin and hair, too. In this article, we’ll discuss the foods you should work into your diet if you want to repair skin or hair damage from the inside out.
What does Healthy skin and healthy hair look like?
Your skin can be affected by several different issues that result in an unhealthy appearance, including the tone of skin, the texture and hydration. Comfort is an issue as well: healthy skin doesn’t sting, feel tight, or feel sore. Unhealthy hair can appear limp or straw-like, with split ends and a brittle texture, while healthy hair is bouncy, shiny, and soft to the touch. To achieve healthy skin and hair, the first step is to change your diet. For example, not drinking enough water can affect the hydration of your skin, which changes its elasticity and whether it’s prone to wrinkles or not. The nutritional value of the food you consume impacts your skin & hair the same way.
Nutrients – What are you looking for in your food?
Vitamin C is an ascorbic acid that plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen, a protein found in your skin, muscles, tendons, stomach, and even your teeth. Collagen keeps your skin elastic and replaces dead skin cells. Boosting your Vitamin C intake will help boost your collagen production, which can be critical for those fighting acne or aging skin. Vitamin C doesn’t benefit only your skin—it can benefit an immune system weakened from stress, colds, and boosts the healthy growth of brittle hair. If you’re running on a tight schedule or are trying to budget, consuming the recommended nine servings of fruits and vegetables can be troublesome, but luckily, we have some recommendations that will make achieving your nutritional goals a lot easier.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant that stimulates the growth of your cells and rejuvenates your skin by balancing sebum production. Sebum is the natural oil your skin produces on your face and in your hair—if production is unbalanced, you may have dry skin and brittle hair, or oily skin and an oily scalp, resulting in premature aging, or acne. There are two different kinds of vitamin A. The first type, preformed vitamin A, is found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. The second type, provitamin A, is found in fruits, vegetables and other plant-based products. The most common type of provitamin A in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene. You can find beta-carotene in a lot of orange vegetables, like sweet potatoes and carrots. Many skin and hair products contain vitamin A, so keep an eye out while shopping.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant that can rejuvenate your skin and hair health. Its properties help repair damaged hair follicles and prevent tissue corrosion, which encourages hair growth. It also can be used to treat age spots and other hyperpigmentation issues, such as dark circles. Omega-3 and omega-6 are fatty acids – they’re the “good fat” you always hear about from health gurus. They regulate blood pressure, and are known to be used to protect against fatal heart diseases.
Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fiber are also important. The strength and elasticity of both your hair and skin count on fiber, iron, and protein. Fiber can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, while iron maintains the health of your skin, hair, and nails. Protein is a building block for strong muscles; your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. If your skin is suffering from sun damage or aging, then your nutritional intake of proteins, fats and fibers might be lacking.
Foods to give you the most bang for your buck
We’ve all heard about the wonders of antioxidants and the magic of kale, but what other foods can you implement in your diet to achieve that healthy glow? It might be easier than you think.
We’ve created a list of the best foods for a well-rounded diet targeted to boost the health of your hair and skin. These can be incorporated into your meal plans whether you’re vegetarian or a carnivore.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the amount of nutrients you need depends on your body weight, your age, and your life style. A body builder will need more protein than an office worker.
Do some additional research before you go grocery shopping.
Lentils are chock full of protein, iron, zinc and biotin. One cup of cooked lentils only contains 230 calories, but is still a filling addition to your meal plan. These nutrients have anti-aging properties, as they boost the elasticity and strength of your skin and hair.
Chickpeas have high concentrations of vitamins. On top of that, they’re easy to cook and can be incorporated easily as a side dish. Being antioxidant rich, these are great if you’re focused on the health of your skin.
Black beans are a high source of protein, iron, and fiber. Beans are a starch, making them a great source of carbohydrates. Like lentils, they’re great if you want to boost the health of both your skin and hair.
Spinach is iron rich. It also contains sebum, plus omega-3 acids, potassium, calcium, and iron. It can be added to salads, wraps and more, and is a key component to many delicious recipes. Spinach is an all-rounder—it’s great for improving the health of both your skin and hair.
Seafoods are a must for essential fats. Fish like salmon are great sources of vitamin B12, D, and omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and potassium. It’s similar to spinach in that it has many different nutrients and is great for both skin and hair.
Oats are a whole grain, and whole grains contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Oatmeal is a quick, filling breakfast that can be coupled with any number of fruits to create a delicious meal. Oatmeal is best for those looking to grow healthy hair.
While oranges are a great source of vitamin C, guava outdo them in terms of numbers—the fruit contains three times more vitamin C and fiber than an orange. Vitamin C is essential to having healthy skin.
Organ meats such as liver are low in sodium, but high in iron. It also contains vitamin A, heaps of protein, and vitamin B6 and B12. Liver pate might be a snack you want to consider, as it helps the healthy growth of your hair and skin.
Nuts and seeds
Walnuts are richer than most nuts in polyunsaturated fats, containing an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. They’re rich antioxidants and are a source of vitamin B, making them great for your skin.
Also known as yams, sweet potatoes are ultra-rich in vitamins, containing vitamin A, B5 and B6. Although they have more sugar than white potatoes, they have less sodium and fewer calories. With all of those vitamins, they’re great for both your hair and skin.
What foods to avoid, and why?
We all know that the amount of sugar in soda is unhealthy, but what about diet soda? Diet sodas substitute real sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. According to the FDA, aspartame has been linked to hair loss, so choose something that uses natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol.
Fast foods and processed foods are stuffed with preservatives, either to extend their shelf life or to make preparing them quicker. While they are convenient, and tempting sometimes, keep in mind that restaurant fast foods are high in fat, and not the good kind – so be sure to read the nutrition information before placing your order.
A healthy lifestyle takes time and effort, but the easiest step is to identify and remove the junk food in your current diet, and replace them with healthy alternatives
Remember to keep your eyes on the prize!
Eating unhealthy is a bad habit that many people find hard to break out of, but the benefits of healthy eating impact your whole body. Now that you know what to look for in your foods, shopping healthy will be a lot easier. These nutrition-packed foods will help you boost the health of your hair and skin. A more youthful, happier you is just a shopping trip away.
- Stephanie Slaptsis