Eating a Healthy Diet for Better Skin, Hair and Nails

Do you covet radiant skin? Ever notice the gorgeous “pregnancy glow” of other women? Sure, pre-natal vitamins and a rush of hormones help, but the conscientious eating habits of expectant mothers are a big reason for the enviable complexion. While many spend a disproportionate amount of their pin money on cosmetic wonder products and big-promise tonics, beauty really can come from the inside. Skin that’s dry, sallow in color, or prematurely aged can truly be revitalized through improved diet. Healthy eating is great for the figure and face. It doesn’t hurt those tresses and fingernails, either.

What’s in the market beauty basket?

Bottled Water
Hydration is the best foundation. Supple skin, smooth nails, and shiny locks all start with adequate water intake. Eight glasses a day keep the dermatologist away. Toting a bottle around only counts if you actually drink from it, though. Sparkling water, green tea, or adding a splash of fruit juice to the bottle may help you get your recommended H20.

Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits and Veggies
To protect skin cells from free-radical damage (like that caused by sun over-exposure), indulge in dark colored berries and plums. Anti-oxidants are plentiful in most deeply colored fruits and vegetables. Fresh or frozen blueberries, for example, are a quick addition to breakfast cereal or salads. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and plums are some of the best anti-oxidant sources, but artichokes and prunes are also good picks. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of bestsellers The Perricone Promise and The Wrinkle Cure, recommends a diet of “rainbow foods” to quell the signs of aging.

Lean Proteins
Hair needs a balanced mix of nutrients to for quick growth, but protein is the most important one. Lean beef contains the protein, vitamin B, iron, and zinc that healthy hair craves. Protein can also ward off those white lines in the nail bed. The iron in red meat strengthens brittle nails and wards off white spots. Anemia, the lack of sufficient iron, results in pale skin and lips as well as loss of energy. Vitamin B combats nail ridges. Egg whites are an excellent protein option for the cholesterol-challenged.

Complex Carbohydrates
Don’t get your carb rush from simple sweets. It’s the complex carbohydrates in fruit and whole grains that do a body good. Choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, cereals, and pastas. They assemble the proteins needed for long locks. Nosh on fiber-full brown rice for great hair. The vitamin C in citrus is necessary for the maintenance of collagen. It keeps hangnails at bay, too.

Essential Fats
Want plump skin – without plumping up the rest of you? Stock up on “good” fats for both a healthier heart and younger skin. Foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids make cell membranes strong. The better the barrier, the more moisture cells retain, and the younger and plumper skin appears. These essential fats are found in walnuts, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, mackerel, tuna, and the Perricone-championed superfood called salmon.

Low-Fat Dairy
Leave the whole milk for a luxurious bath, but do include dairy. The calcium builds strong nails and the vitamin A is super for the complexion. The “good” bacteria acidophilus found in yogurt is as helpful to the skin as it is to the digestive tract. The protein in a serving of low-fat cottage cheese doesn’t hurt the hair either.

Central Market and Whole Foods carry a great selection of fresh meat and fish, produce, and whole grains. If you aren’t creative in the kitchen, let the markets put together your meal. Both chains, fortunately, as well as Eatzi’s, also offer delish take-out dinner. The prepared entrees combine the convenience of fast food with the health and beauty benefits of an organic dish homemade with love.

Are you what you eat? Truth be told, most foods that make your body feel good make it look good, too. Minimally processed seasonal foods are always a healthy choice. For an especially luminous glow, just maintain a diet rich in lean meat, low-fat dairy, the brightest colored fruits and greens, and as much Alaskan salmon as you can afford. Needless to say, vices -tobacco, alcohol, coffee, candy, and caffeinated sodas- throw a monkey wrench in any healthy diet. For makeup optional skin, first fill your basket at the Farmer’s Market.

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