diet

Eat for healthy skin, hair and nails

Friday, June 24, 2011
Get your glow on with these foods
Protein is the largest component of skin, hair and nails, with inadequate amounts producing loose skin, dull hair and brittle nails.

You really are what you eat, so if you want glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails you need to fuel your body with the right foods. Here dietician Caitlin Reid reveals the top six foods for healthy skin, hair and nails.

1. Green tea

The epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) contained in green tea may help to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals by making DNA and reactivating dying skin cells. EGCG may also speed up wound healing and reduce scarring risk, but more research is needed. Start your day with a cup of green tea.

2. Lean red meat

Red meat is a rich source of iron, which is essential for the normal growth and functional maturation of our skin. Inadequate iron produces dull and dry skin. It may also contribute to hair loss, as inadequate iron reduces the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen to hair follicles. Boost your iron intake by enjoying three to four serves of lean red meat each week.

3. Almonds

The essential amino acid arginine found in almonds is converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps blood vessel relax, allowing oxygen and nutrients to travel to your cells and promoting good circulation to your skin. Almonds also contain the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E, which helps protect the scalp's natural oils and produces an anti-inflammatory effect on skin. A small 30g handful of almonds each day is all you need.

4. Atlantic salmon

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats, which moisturise your skin from the inside out, making it smoother and suppressing inflammation, immune responses and blood clotting. Omega-3 fats are also important for skin cell membranes, helping to retain moisture and keeping your skin looking plumper and younger. They're also the natural oil that keeps your scalp and hair from drying out and becoming brittle. Enjoy salmon or another oily fish two to three times per week.

5. Tomatoes

Lycopene in tomatoes is a carotenoid that is stored in the skin and helps enhance the skin's ability to protect itself against harmful UV rays, reducing sunburn risk and premature ageing. In fact, UK researchers found that people who consumed 50g of lycopene-rice tomato paste daily for three months had 33 percent higher protection against sunburn compared to those who didn't eat tomato paste. But UV protection properties from carotenoids are insufficient to act as a physical sunscreen, so you still need to slip, slop, slap.

6. Chicken

Chicken is rich in protein and zinc. Protein is the largest component of skin, hair and nails, with inadequate amounts producing loose skin, dull hair and brittle nails. Zinc maintains the integrity of the skin and plays a role in protein synthesis, cell division and DNA synthesis, making it important for keeping your hair and nails healthy. Enjoy a chicken pasta, sandwich or salad.

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