Hair, Skin and Nails: the signs of health.

Your physical appearance can tell you a lot about the state of your internal health.

Most natural health practitioners include a physical examination since the condition of your hair, skin, and nails can be signs of underlying health issues, like nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and the health of your digestive system.

One secret to growing and maintaining healthy looking hair, skin, and nails lies in healthy digestion. The foods you eat are partially responsible for creating a healthy internal intestinal environment that supports a healthy external appearance.

Avoiding excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol can help promote optimal digestion and gut health. Avoiding foods you may be intolerant to, such as gluten and/or dairy, is also important when it comes to the link between digestion, nutrient absorption, and your hair, skin, and nails.

Think about it – if your digestion is compromised, your body may not be fully absorbing the nutrients needed for hair, skin, and nail growth and maintenance.

Healthy hair, skin, and nails are also dependent on your intake of a variety of nutrients, including plenty of protein, omega-3 fats, and vitamins and minerals, particularly zinc and iron.

If your diet is lacking in some of these nutrients, you may notice changes in the condition of your hair, skin, and nails.

Physical signs that you may be lacking something in your diet:

FINGERNAILS & TOENAILS

Healthy nails are clear, smooth, and flexible. Like hair, healthy nails should be in a continuous cycle of re-growth.

The following color or texture changes in your nails are common signs of nutrient deficiencies:

WHITE SPOTS – If you notice white spots on your nails, you may not be getting enough zinc in your diet.

Good sources of zinc include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • dark chocolate
  • Seafood
  • red meat
  • leafy green vegetables

HORIZONTAL RIDGES along your nails may indicate either a zinc or iron deficiency.

Good sources of iron include:

  • Red meat
  • Beans & legumes
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Dried fruit

To enhance your body’s absorption of iron, pair iron-rich foods with a good source of vitamin C, like citrus fruits, strawberries, or bell peppers.

SKIN

Did you know that the health of your skin is closely tied to the health of your gut and liver function?

These two rather essential organs (your skin & liver) are processing and detoxifying everything – including foods, drinks, supplements, and medicines – pretty much everything you take in from the outside world.

Inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, eczema, and skin rashes are common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome – when the walls of the small intestine become thin and too permeable or “leaky”.

Breakouts and rashes can also be symptoms of a sluggish liver. Your liver’s primary responsibility is detoxification. So a poor diet, medication, and excessive alcohol intake can result in a slow, congested liver that is less efficient at doing its job.

Inflammatory skin conditions can also result from food intolerance and/or allergies. Many people have intolerances to gluten and dairy products. Additionally, excessive intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates can also disrupt normal gut function that often results in skin irritations.

Dry or flaky skin can signal a lack of healthy Omega-3 fats in the diet. (psst, be sure to try out our easy trail mix recipe that can boost skin health!)

Avoiding foods you are intolerant to, adding in more Omega-3-rich foods, and supplementing with enzymes, plus a high quality fish oil may benefit your skin.

HAIR

Healthy hair is soft, elastic, and should also be in a continuous cycle of re-growth. Hair should NOT easily break or fall out.

While no one wants to deal with premature hair loss, that’s exactly what can happen if your diet is lacking certain nutrients and/or you have an undetected health issue.

If you are noticing you’re shedding a few hairs each day though — RELAX! That’s totally normal as hair follicles move through their growth cycle.

However, excessive shedding that results in noticeable hair thinning and/or changes in hair texture, like dryness or brittleness, can result from:

→ Thyroid hormone imbalance, resulting in hypo or hyperthyroidism

  • Start by checking blood levels

→ Not enough protein – the main building block of new hair growth

  • Include a good source of protein, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, or nuts, with each meal to meet your daily requirements

→ Not enough omega-3’s – healthy fats help keep hair and scalp conditioned with the production of natural oils

  • Consider taking a fish oil supplement and frequently include good sources of Omega-3’s, like walnuts, chia seeds, and fatty fish, in your diet

→ Lacking vitamins & minerals

  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • B vitamins

A DIY Trail Mix is an easy way to combine essential nutrients that help promote healthy hair, skin, and nails. Raw nuts and seeds are good sources of Omega-3 fats, as well as key minerals like zinc.

Natural sweet-makers like dark chocolate and raisins are good sources of iron and punch up the flavor & fun of your mix too. Be creative, incorporate more whole and snackable foods into your diet and get to mixing – for your hair, skin & nails’ sake!


RECIPE:

Healthy Skin, Hair & Nails Trail Mix

Ingredients

1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup raw almonds
½ cup raisins
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips

To prepare

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, then transfer to airtight container and store at room temperature or in refrigerator.

A serving size is ¼ cup trail mix.

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