Healthy Eating: Eat your way to beauty

Chapped lips? Dry hair? Flaky skin? Find out which foods can help you stay beautiful through this dehydrating winter.

By KATHRYN RUBIN
February 8, 2012 16:54
4 minute read.
Leafy greens

Leafy greens. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? You, of course! But in the winter, not all of us may feel that way. From our pale crackly skin, to our chapped lips and dry flat hair, many of us my feel a bit down about our appearance this season. So what can a gal do? It’s quite simple—real beauty comes from within, so start with what you are putting into your body!

We all have heard that processed and oily foods can cause zits, lead to oily hair and even make you look bloated, but can certain foods actually enhance your looks? For years experts have been saying yes – that a diet rich in nutrient loaded foods can positively impact skin, hair, nails and lips. However, recent research has found that adding certain foods to your diet may help fight flaky skin, dry and frizzy hair, brittle nails and chapped lips. Here are a few foods that every lady (and man if he dares admit that he needs it) should eat this winter:

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Oily Fish
Salmon
Dry irritated skin is often caused by dry air, long hot showers, and certain soaps; but what about an omega-3 deficiency? Most likely you never saw that one coming. You may have heard that omega-3 is vital for the proper functioning of many organs, including the brain. You've probably also heard that this essential fatty acid has also been linked with a decreased rate of certain cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. But did you know that this healthy fat is also an essential component to the outer membranes of our cells—the very membrane that retains water and keeps each cell hydrated, thus helping our skin stay moist? In fact, one of the first signs of an omega-3 deficiency is dry skin. So where can one find this beauty nutrient? Cold-water fish! Wild salmon and tuna in particular are among the top sources of this beauty-enhancing nutrient.

Nuts and Seeds
Nuts
Do you go nuts for thick lushest hair? You are not alone, most of us ladies do! So what’s the secret? A daily handful or two of nuts might just be the trick. Nuts (as well as eggs, fish and many breakfast cereals) are loaded with niacin, an ingredient essential to keeping your skin moisturized. In fact, niacin deficiency is linked with flaky skin and sometimes even eczema, a skin condition that often is most symptomatic in the winter. If you are a walnut lover, then you and your hair are definitely in luck. Walnuts are loaded with alpha-linolenic acid, the plant based version of omega-3 fatty acid, and thus will help condition your hair and skin. Brazil nuts are a top source of selenium, a mineral essential for a healthy scalp, and therefore beautiful hair.

But wait what about Vitamin E? Listed on many lotions as a key-moisturizing ingredient, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant vitamin that helps the skin to retain its natural moisturizers. And what better source is there for Vitamin E than almonds and pumpkin seeds.

Sardines, Eggs Yolks and Beans
Beans
You are probably thinking, what do these three foods have in common? Well very little, apart from their high levels of biotin. A member of the vitamin-B family, biotin is essential to the metabolism of amino acids required to build healthy hair and nails. While a serious biotin deficiency is rare, it is possible to be lacking in this vitamin. So, how can you tell if you might be a little short on biotin? A deficiency in your daily diet can leave your hair dry and damaged and your nails thin and brittle. What's the easiest way to up your biotin intake? You can either take supplements or up your daily intake of biotin-rich foods like egg yolks, sardines, nuts, beans and whole grains. Then, sit back and watch this helpful vitamin restore strength to your hair and nails.

Dark Green Vegetables
Basket of broccoli
It is no surprise that leafy green vegetables ended up on this list. From reducing the risk of cancer, to protecting your eyes, to boosting your immune system, there is almost nothing that broccoli, spinach and all the other green veggies cannot do. Well now you can add one more superpower to green vegetables’ list: skin and hair protection. That’s right, leafy greens are excellent source of both Vitamin A and C, two vitamins which the body needs for sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance secreted by your hair follicles, the body's very own natural hair conditioner.


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