We tend to think superficially about the appearance of our hair, nails and skin; the “beauty trio”. We become sold on those alluring photos or commercials featuring models that showcase one of more of the “beauty trio” in favor of cosmetics or hair and nail products. Shimmering hair and glowing skin tempt us to rush out and buy the advertised products, hoping they will perform the same miracle for us.
While some of these products do offer a benefit, they are only a band aid for deeper deficiencies that cause dry, ashy skin or brittle, lifeless hair and nails. Many a beauty product will declare that they contain essential vitamins and minerals for your hair, but the best way to reap benefits of those nutrients is by ingesting them.
Beauty starts in your stomach
But not in the usual way you would think! Functioning of your body as a whole is cyclical, and it all depends on the health of your stomach. When your GI tract isn’t working efficiently, nutrients will not be assimilated properly and sent through your bloodstream to be used by the various other systems that depend on them. To benefit from any nutritional remedies for your hair, nail and skin health, you need to get your insides situated first!
Repair your gut
Your all-important GI tract governs your health like you wouldn’t believe. Your stomach contains HCL, or hydrochloric acid that breaks down masticated food upon its entry. Your digestive system then separates the food’s components by macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) with complex processes. The amount of primal intestinal flora in your gut determines how much digestive “fire” you have and how quickly your stomach will break down foods and synthesize their nutrients.
Without enough digestive fire, you can experience discomfort such as stomach bloating, excessive flatulence, indigestion and sluggishness when you eat certain foods. You can try apple cider vinegar in various recipes or take it like a medicine diluted with filtered water and made palatable with a little honey to stimulate the production of HCL in your stomach. Yogurt with active cultures can do the trick, too, as long as it doesn’t contain tons of sugar. It’s best to buy the low- fat plain variety and just add some berries. This way, added sugar hasn’t killed off the beneficial acidophilus naturally found in the yogurt.
If your situation is more critical, such as malnutrition due to extensive illness, poor diet or a hospital stay with round the clock meds that disturb your flora, you may consider a probiotic vitamin. A word of caution: Depending on your medications and type of gastrointestinal distress, consult your doctor before taking a probiotic!
If your GI tract is humming along okay, here are four more ways to improve and maintain your “beauty trio”:
Oxygenate your cells
This prevents damage that causes premature aging and disease to your hair, nail and skin cells. A diet consisting of raw fruits, green vegetables and sprouted seeds and nuts contains more oxygen than cooked foods. These foods have higher water content, which contains oxygen. Complex carbohydrates and foods containing B12 (fish and eggs) also help with efficient oxygen distribution through your body. Avoid carbonated beverages as they are devoid of oxygen.
Chlorophyll is a super oxygenator and cleanser because it helps blood transport oxygen to your cells. Eat spinach, broccoli, kale and mustard greens, or make smoothies with microalgae such as spirulina, chlorella or blue-green algae to consume the most chlorophyll. Yeast overpopulation in your stomach hinders your digestive health, but it is anaerobic and will not survive in an oxygen-rich environment created by chlorophyll. This super green substance also escorts toxins that adversely affect the “beauty trio” out of your system.
Bond with Silicon!
Silicon (NOT silicone!), improves the quality of your “beauty trio”. Hair growth and maintenance is enhanced by ingestion of silicon-rich foods, and they support optimal collagen production in your skin. Collagen production promotes elasticity of your skin, preserving that youthful look. Men, take note: silicon has been proven to slow hair loss! Celery and lettuces are the best food sources containing silicon.
Get your antioxidants
Getting enough oxygen to your cells is helpful, but it’s good to make sure that once it’s in, your body uses it efficiently. Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A can curb the damage caused by unstable free radicals. These cancer-potential molecules can harm skin cells and cause signs of aging. Berries, artichokes, black, red, and pinto beans, prunes, and pecans are great whole sources of antioxidants. Enjoy tomatoes for their lycopene.
Omega fatty acids
Fish pretty much has the corner on being the best source of omega-3’s. Keep your hair shiny and strong by eating fish, eggs and nuts. Fish and eggs deliver the double benefit of oxygenation and providing these essential fatty acids. Vegetarians and vegans can consider chia seeds. They contain a bioavailable source of omega fatty acids 3 and 6.
Realizing that every system in your body works together to make up the whole system that is your body is important to understanding how your diet influences your health inside and out. You can’t stop the effects of Mother Nature entirely, but you can preserve your skin, hair and nail health longer with good, conscious dietary practices.