While it may be true that beauty shines from the inside out, it certainly doesn’t hurt to nourish ourselves from the outside in either!
Your hair, skin, and nails, are among the most visible parts of your body. When healthy, they are strong, clear, and smooth. They can also provide warning signs of an internal imbalance through lack of growth, discoloration, bumps or spots, or other changes in appearance.
By nourishing ourselves with the foods and nutrients beneficial to keratin – the building block that helps form the structure of hair, skin, and nails – we’re supplying our bodies with just the thing to grow lustrous locks and exude a youthful glow.
Continuity is key though! Since keratin, which is made up of cells called keratinocytes, forms by creating layers that perpetually grow outwards as exterior cells die or fall off, it’s important to establish regularity for consistently positive results. At Integrative Nutrition we teach the 90/10 rule - a simple and memorable reminder for consistent health - eat healthy 90% of the time and 10% of the time have whatever you’d like!
Here are some foods to nourish your hair, skin, and nails, both internally and externally.
Foods to eat
1. Protein-rich foods
Keratin is made up of protein so be sure to consume an adequate amount of wholesome protein-rich foods every day, such as eggs, beans or lentils, Greek yogurt, meats, fish, poultry, nuts, or quinoa. Switch it up daily to include a variety throughout the week.
2. Healthy Fats
Fats provide the nourishment required for cellular repair and growth, so be sure to include a daily dose of fat-containing foods such as sunflower seeds (which are also rich in beneficial minerals for keratin formation) and nuts, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, full-fat dairy if you tolerate it, coconut milk, fatty fish, and avocados.
3. Veggie variety
Fresh, colorful, and (whenever possible) organic vegetables and fruit contain a medley of antioxidants that benefit hair, skin, and nails, as well as most other systems and organs in the body. Include green and colorful foods with practically every meal if you can, including greens like spinach, kale, arugula, or lettuce for the base of daily salads with other varieties as toppings, and include fresh fruit as healthy snacks between meals.
An additional nutrient to keep in mind for healthy hair, skin, and nails is vitamin E, and while a supplement could be helpful in temporarily increasing its availability as you get your diet back on track, if you’re consuming a variety of the foods above then you’ll likely get an adequate amount through your diet in the long-run.
Foods to use externally
Oh yes, you CAN put food ON your body too!
Raw honey makes a fantastic facial that cleans out oil and bacteria from your pores, just apply a layer to your face with your hair pulled back, leave it on for about 10 minutes, and wash away. Yes, it’s sticky, but it generally stays on pretty well and washes away quickly. You’ll feel instantly rejuvenated!
The protein available in raw eggs creates a wonderful and nurturing topical treatment for your hair and scalp that helps to restore and strengthen follicles, and encourage growth. Beat one egg (two if you have long hair) like you’re about to make scrambled eggs, then position your head over a sink and gradually part your hair, adding the egg to your scalp row by row. When your scalp feels mostly covered use the remaining mixture to cover the tips, and then tip your head over the sink as you give your scalp a loving eggy massage to really work in all the nutrients. Tie up your hair with a clip for about 15 minutes and then take a shower to wash it away. Repeat 1-2 times per week for a few months until you see a difference (this method takes a little time so be patient!)
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is not only rich in healthy fats, but also contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and, aside from providing nourishment to your skin and hair, creates a healthy coating to nourish your nails. Apply a generous to your fingers and/or toes, and be still for about 5-10 minutes while it penetrates to nourish the nails and cuticles and clear out any harmful toxins. Repeat regularly for optimal results.
How do you take care of your hair, skin, or nails? Please share in the comments below!