What your hair, skin and nails say about your health.
Skin, hair and nails are related in their anatomy and physiology. The outer layer of skin, the hair and nails are all keratinized structures. Hair and nails reﬂect the health of the body two to six months prior. Skin reﬂects any imbalances much more immediately. Our hair, skin and nails are affected not just by what they are exposed to on the outside but the nourishment they receive on the inside.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and weighs approximately 10 pounds, covering about 16 square feet. The skin is the body’s first line of defense and it protects against external agents and is responsible for the elimination of a variety of toxins. This of course means that much of what is going on inside will quickly be reﬂected in the appearance of your skin.
Some of the most common causes of rough, dry skin are:
Smoking – In addition to all the serious health risks linked to smoking, this activity is known to cause premature wrinkles, thinning of the skin, the appearance of dark spots and dry skin.
Lack of protection – Skin that is frequently exposed to hot water, detergents, dry air, or other environmental issues will often be dry, itchy and cracked.
Exposure to water – Frequent exposure to water is also very drying to the skin, particularly chlorinated water in swimming pools.
Stress – Chronic stress can lead to increased cortisol levels which impedes the skin’s ability to repair itself leading to the appearance of dry, damaged and older skin.
Aging contributes to reduced cell development and the slowing of collagen and keratin synthesis, resulting in skin dryness and wrinkles, and slower skin regeneration.
Even though hair is not a living tissue, it is important to supply nutrients to the hair follicles in the scalp.
- Ensuring adequate protein is necessary for hair growth. Choose lean sources of protein (fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy).
- Meat, poultry, and fish contain iron, required for proper hair growth.
- Fish and flaxseed contain essential fatty acids necessary for proper hair growth.
- Nuts and seeds contain magnesium, which is important for hair growth.
- The outer skin of plants such as potatoes, cucumbers, green and red peppers, and sprouts can strengthen hair because they are rich in the mineral silica.
- Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are sources of essential nutrients and fibre.
Foods to avoid:
- Caffeine and alcohol can deplete the body of nutrients and also raise adrenal levels, which can trigger hair loss.
- Foods high in sugar can raise cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and cause the body to produce more androgens, promoting hair loss.
- High intake of salt has been linked to hair loss. Foods high in salt include processed and snack foods, deli meats, and the salt shaker.
- Reduce or eliminate pro-inflammatory foods: saturated fat (fatty meats and dairy) and trans fats (processed foods and fried foods). Saturated fat reduces the amount of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), a substance that normally binds to testosterone. With less SHBG, more testosterone can be converted into DHT, which promotes hair loss.
Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nails can reveal health problems.
Following are seven nail conditions you should not ignore.
Nail pitting is small depressions in the nails and is most common in people who have psoriasis. It can also be related to connective tissue disorders, such as Reiter’s syndrome, and alopecia areata.
Nail clubbing is when the tips of the fingers enlarge and the nails curve around the fingertips. It can be a sign of lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, liver disease and AIDS.
Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out. Spoon nails are often a sign of iron deficiency anemia or a liver condition (hemochromatosis) in which your body absorbs too much iron. They can also be associated with heart disease and hypothyroidism.
Terry’s nails is when the tip of each nail has a dark band. This can sometimes be attributed to aging or liver disease, congestive heart failure or diabetes.
Beau’s lines are indentations that run across the nails. Uncontrolled diabetes, zinc deficiency, peripheral vascular disease, and illnesses with a high fever, (scarlet fever, measles, mumps and pneumonia) can result in Beau’s lines.
Onycholysis is when the fingernails become loose and separate from the nail bed. Sometimes this is a result of injury or infection or a reaction to nail hardeners or adhesives. Thyroid disease and psoriasis may also cause nail separation.
Yellow nail syndrome is when the nails thicken and new growth slows resulting in a yellowish colour of the nails. It is often a sign of respiratory disease, such as chronic bronchitis.
“The appearance and quality of our hair, skin and nails can be affected by sun, wind, chlorinated pools and dietary deficiencies. Key ingredients in femMED Hair, Skin & Nails can provide the body with the essential nutrients to help repair this damage.”-Sherry Torkos, Registered Pharmacist, author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
Look for supplements containing these key ingredients;
- MSM (Methylsufonylmethane) which has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the skin against the sun and environment.
- Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid which have antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage.
- Amino acids L-isoleucine, L-leucine, and L-valine which all benefit hair health.
- Calcium and biotin which both support nail health.
- Silicone which can improve brittle hair and nails.
- B-Vitamins to support health of hair, skin and nails.
- Vitamins A and D which are both essential for healthy skin.
The next time you reach for another “miracle” beauty product, stop and remember that what you put into your body is more important than what you put on it.