What you perceive about beauty and being beautiful is very subjective and can mean different things to different people. If there’s one thing we know about natural beauty, it’s so much more than just your outward appearance, it’s what’s happening inside your body that really counts. The outward appearance of your hair, skin and nails is one of the best indicators of your general health and reflects the state of your whole body.
Natural beauty starts from the inside out. Choices you make every day, from the foods you eat, the hair and body products you use, how you manage and deal with stress or exposure to chemicals and pollutants can all make an impact on the health of your hair, skin and nails. The good news is you don’t need to visit a beautician or expensive day spa on a regular basis to get strong healthy hair, smooth glowing skin or strong nails.
The `make-up` of hair, skin and nails
Strong healthy hair, smooth glowing skin and strong nails are all made up of healthy connective tissue, derived from amino acid building blocks or proteins; in particular, collagen and keratin.
Collagen - strength and firmness
Collagen is your body’s most abundant protein, representing approximately 30% of your total body protein. Collagen is the major structural component of connective tissue found in your hair, skin and nails, providing tensile strength and firmness to the dermis. Collagen attracts and binds water so helps keep hair, skin and nails well hydrated and ‘plumped-up.’ Proline, lysine and glycine in particular are the three main amino acids crucial for collagen production and stability.
Keratin - structure and protection
Keratin is the key structural building block that provides you with a tough physical barrier for hair, skin and nails, helping to protect all the underlying structures eg: the dermis. The epidermis of the skin does not have its own blood supply; instead nutrients and waste diffuse in and out of the epidermis from the dermis.
Natural beauty and ageing
As you begin to age, you may notice some unwelcome changes to your hair, skin and nails. Collagen levels begin to drop as you age, resulting in visible changes such as fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin, weak, brittle and splitting nails or dry, thinning grey hair. Hormonal changes may also exacerbate the problem of declining collagen levels.
How you can improve the natural beauty of your hair, skin and nails
Supplementing with collagen will help to boost your own collagen levels and slow down the visible signs of ageing by ‘plumping-up’ and hydrating hair follicles, smoothing and firming skin and strengthening nails. Add a variety of high quality protein foods to your diet to provide the necessary amino acid building blocks for collagen and keratin production.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help to keep your skin hydrated and ‘plumped-up’, improving the tone and flexibility of your skin; particularly important if you have dry, flaking or rough skin. Balancing your intake of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids results in smoother, younger-looking skin by helping cells maintain and hold water and improves nutrient incorporation into cells.
Silica is an important trace mineral found in abundance in hair, skin and nails and is essential for keratin production and cross-linking of collagen. Brown rice, green beans, oats, root vegetables and whole grain cereals are good sources of dietary silica.
Biotin forms part of the vitamin B family (vitamin B7) and helps build up keratin levels in the hair, skin and nails. Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production and metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids. A biotin deficiency may lead to a dry scalp, hair loss, dermatitis, eczema and dry, flaky skin or brittle nails.
Drink plenty of fresh purified water every day to stay hydrated; we’ve all seen a grape turn into a sultana due to lack of moisture; the same goes for your hair, skin and nails.
Healthy and varied diet
Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, quality proteins and healthy fats in your diet; boosts your antioxidant status to prevent free radical damage which is linked to premature ageing and provides a wide variety of nutrients. Eliminate sugar, refined and processed foods.
• Apply sunscreen and lip balm when enjoying the great outdoors
• Use natural, chemical free beauty and personal products
• Enjoy moderate exercise to get your circulation going
• Watch your stress levels to help reduce premature ageing
• If you smoke it can make you look around nine years older than you really are, so all the more reason to stop smoking and enjoy a younger looking skin
Written by Kay Bellingham
Kay Bellingham is a practicing Naturopath with over 14 years’ experience in natural medicine, with a special interest in herbs and nutrients for health and wellbeing.
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