We know that the body functions better when we consume the right nutrients, in the correct amounts. We also know that there are certain nutrients that have noticeable impacts on the health and function of skin, hair, and nails.
As they say, great skin really does start from within. Therefore, those wishing to take their beauty routine to the next level by feeding their skin, hair and nails from the inside out can do so through the addition of a few key micronutrients. The age-old adage about eating your greens is true, as green vegetables are often the most nutrient-dense. Well, here are 5 superfood greens you can add to your diet that will leave your nails strong, your hair shiny, and your skin glowing.
Already having developed a reputation for being nutrient dense, kale is known by many for its vitamin A, B, C and K content. But its benefits don’t stop there. Research shows that kale can provide significant reduction in protein carbonylation in pollution-stressed human dermal fibroblasts (1). Fibroblasts are our cells responsible for collagen formation. In other words, this statement means that kale can act as a protector of fibroblast cells, preventing environmental damage and keeping them producing skin-plumping collagen for longer.
A classic and well-known health-booster for good reason, avocado is high in essential fatty acids. We know that essential fatty acids are excellent for skin, hair and nails, but why exactly is this? Omega-3, or alpha-linolenic acid which is found in avocados, is one of three omegas (in addition to 6 and 9) which are vital in the repair and maintenance of the skin’s barrier function. When these are in balance, the skin’s moisture content is retained, and inflammation is reduced. Ensuring moisture retention in the body is also key for keeping nails strong and healthy, avoiding brittleness.
A potent and powerful green algae which is rapidly gaining popularity, chlorella is being included in more and more super-greens supplements thanks to its outstanding nutrient profile. It contains many vitamins, carotenoids (part of the vitamin A family) and antioxidant polyphenols. What is most exciting for those seeking anti-ageing, however, is its demonstrated ability to reduce glycation (2). Glycation is a complex process in which chemical reactions between sugars and proteins form Advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Essentially, sugars bind with proteins like collagen, causing them to become brittle and damaged. AGEs have a number of detrimental effects on the skin, and by extension, the hair and nails. The more AGEs formed in the body, the faster we age. Fat-soluble forms of ingested chlorella have shown in studies to reduce the glycation process, offering age-preventative benefits.
Another phytonutrient making its way into more and more skin health supplements, this particular microalgae seems to offer a significant number of benefits to skin and general health. One study explored spirulina’s ability to inhibit pigmentation production, improve viability of keratinocytes (skin cells), increase cellular activity of fibroblasts (cells which create collagen), and inhibit bacteria proliferation (3).
Hair, skin and nails are largely derived from proteins, and one of the best ways to support your body’s production of proteins is through the direct consumption of healthy dietary proteins. Also, protein is vital for muscle repair as well as brain function, among many other things. Pea protein is considered a highly beneficial plant-derived protein with a number of actions (4). Firstly, pea protein contains lysine, an amino acid which plays a key role in the synthesis of collagen. Secondly, it’s high in fibre, which is great for gut health and the regulation of good bacteria within the digestive tract. Healthy digestion is essential for healthy skin, with an enormous amount of evidence linking inflammatory conditions of the gut to inflammatory conditions of the skin. Further to this, it is suggested that pea protein has a mucosal-protective action in the gut, and that it presents a promising opportunity for further research into its potential treatment of atopic dermatitis that is linked to compromised digestive systems. It should also be noted by those currently using whey protein that this particular form of protein, derived from dairy, contains various growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which has been linked to acne. It also spikes blood sugar, leading to an increase in oil production. Therefore, those with skin concerns may wish to switch to pea as their chosen form of protein.
Whether it be dietary substances or topical skincare, caring for your skin as well as your hair and nails is about much more than trending ingredients. Your routines should always be based around an understanding of how and why your products and ingredients are working for you - especially when it comes to nutrition. By utilising techniques that are based on evidence and scientific practice, you will always ensure the best chance of success.
Evaluation of the Efficacy and Safety of Blue Fenugreek Kale Extract on Skin Health and Aging: In-vitro and Clinical Evidences. Kappler, K; Grothe, T; Srivastava, S; Jagtap, M. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology; Auckland Vol. 15, (2022): 2051-2064.
Inhibitory Effects of Parachlorella Beijerinckii Extracts on the Formation of Advanced Glycation End Products and Glycative Stress-Induced Inflammation in an In Vitro Skin Dermis-Like Model. Imai, Yumi; Nakashima, Yuya; Kanno, Toshihiro. Evidence - Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; New York Vol. 2022, (2022).
Spirulina for Skin Care: A Bright Blue Future. Cosmetics; Basel Vol. 8, Iss. 1, (2021): 7.
Effect of a Product Containing Xyloglucan and Pea Protein on a Murine Model of Atopic Dermatitis. Campolo, Michela; Casili, Giovanna; Paterniti, Irene; Filippone, Alessia; Lanza, Marika; et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences; Basel Vol. 21, Iss. 10, (2020): 3596.