Nails cracking? Skin breaking out? Hair brittle? Don’t reach for the closest beauty product, the answer could be on your plate.
Australians spend over $7 million a year on products that promise to lighten, darken, tighten and lift. It seems like every day there’s a new cream, lotion, oil, treatment or spray on the market that promises to cure dryness, flakiness, breakouts, wrinkles, sallowness, dullness or irritation better than the last. When that doesn’t work, we spend more money on yet another product, touting ‘scientifically formulated’ ingredients that end up joining the rest of products in our overflowing bathroom cupboards!
But there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests if you are tired, unwell, stressed, with a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, no cream will be able to banish your sallow skin, brittle hair and dark circles. Certified Health Coach Brenda Janschek shows us how to nourish our body and our skin, naturally.
You are what you eat
If you want beautiful nails, skin and hair, then you must make the right investment by nourishing your body. “No amount of expensive skincare products can compete with eating healthy foods rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and staying hydrated,” says Brenda.
"There’s no denying that our skin and hair suffer when we’re run down, but many believe that our outer appearance is a direct manifestation of your body’s internal needs – including more serious skin conditions like eczema and severe acne. The quality of someone’s hair, skin and nails is a dead giveaway of their diet,” says Brenda. “For example, if someone has prematurely wrinkled, dry or pale skin, abnormalities in their nails like spots or strips, and/or brittle, dry hair, points to an excess of sugar and simple carbohydrates in the diet, and a lack of vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids."
The downside of beauty products
Some skincare products do little more than mask the problem. “Most expensive skincare products contain a long list of nasty chemicals that are absorbed by your skin (the body’s largest organ), which can have an affect on your hormone health and, in turn, affect your skin, nails and hair," says Brenda. "This also taxes your liver which then has to work overtime in order to try to detoxify the body from these chemicals.”
To achieve glowing hair, nails and skin, the remedy is simple – eat a varied, whole food diet consisting of unprocessed foods, a rainbow of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit along with healthy fats, protein and filtered water.
“Overall skin health can be improved by taking a combination of Vitamin A, C and Zinc,” says Brenda. Great sources of these can be found in carrots, eggs, organ meats (such as liver and kidney), red meat, avocados, lemons, oranges and kiwifruit, fish, shellfish, nuts and pepitas.
Nail health is easy with the right amounts of iron, zinc and Vitamin A. Brittle, splitting nails and white spots can occur if you have a deficiency in these vitamins and minerals. Soft nails can be a result of insufficient protein in the diet which is instrumental in keeping them healthy and strong.
Beautiful hair is also reliant on good nutrition, in particular protein. “Iron, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B will greatly help to improve the health, look, and feel of your hair," says Brenda. Make sure wild salmon, beans, eggs, avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are part of your regular diet.
Brenda also advises engaging in moderate exercise at least three days a week which will have a revitalising effect by increasing blood flow throughout your body and supplying essential nutrients to your scalp, nails and skin.
“A rich whole foods diet can be complimented by some external treatments like gentle exfoliation, homemade face masks and proper cleansing with all-natural products,” says Brenda.
While there is a good selection of all natural, organic beauty products on the market, some of these treatments can be made for minimum cost with ingredients you can find in your kitchen cupboard. Virgin coconut oil can be used as a nourishing moisturiser for your skin and hair. A mix of olive oil and refined sugar makes an excellent scrub, and raw honey can be used as a nourishing face mask.
Problem skin and hair? Here’s the all natural remedy…
Fine lines and wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles can be treated by eating a whole foods and additive-free diet rich in healthy fats, fibre and antioxidants. These help fight free radicals that break down collagen and elastin in your skin. Some foods to focus on are green tea, blueberries, papaya and green leafy vegetables and other brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.
Patchy skin caused by pigmentation can be treated with good doses of Vitamin C which can be found in all citrus fruits as well as broccoli, berries and capsicum.
Pale or dry skin
Pale or dry skin can suggest that you’re not having a good balance of essential fatty acids (too much omega-6 blocks the absorption of omega-3). The best sources of these fats come from olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, avocado oil, grass fed butter, raw nuts and seeds, grass fed meat and pastured eggs.
Prematurely ageing skin
Prematurely ageing skin can be improved by increasing silica in the diet which is essential to the formation of collagen which is what keeps our skin youthful, plump and beautiful. Silica comes from water we drink as well as food like asparagus, mango, cucumber, leeks and beans.
Oily skin is prone to breakouts and can be related to the fluctuation of hormones. Eat lots of anti-oxidant rich foods like berries, red kidney beans and apples and also include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts to improve the texture of your skin. Keep away from all refined vegetable oils and drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
Hair loss can be a result of too little biotin which is a vitamin that can be found in walnuts. Walnuts are also a rich source of Vitamin E, protecting your cells from DNA damage. Insufficient iron can be another major cause of hair loss, so eating eggs, meat and poultry is important for thick hair.
The answer to your dry hair problems could lie in wild salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and keep your scalp and hair hydrated.
Without enough Vitamin B in our diet, hair cells around the scalp can starve which can contribute to brittle hair and shedding. Wild salmon, shellfish, beans, chicken, poultry and eggs and 100 per cent peanut butter are all good sources of Vitamin B. Trace minerals such as selenium, copper, and magnesium help keep your hair looking its best which can be found in many of the foods recommended above.
Brenda suggests her delicious beauty smoothie recipe for healthy nails, skin and hair.