Most people understand and appreciate the value of attractive, healthy hair and skin as a major part of one’s overall appearance. However, few are aware of how best to ensure this component of overall health. Likewise, very few people understand that skin, hair and nails are all composed of the same material, keratin.
Our skin is the body’s largest organ, and is constantly regenerating itself with newly created keratin cells. The surface of everyone’s skin is replaced roughly every 28 days by the process of keratin cells migrating through the three levels of skin. Once on the surface, the epidermis, a keratin cell will die and be sloughed off, exposing newly grown cells.
In a similar fashion, visible hair is essentially strands of dead keratin cells. Skin has two types of keratin cells, hairy and glabrous. Hair is grown within the cell and slowly pushed out by new cells. As the new cells continually grow, the visible hair cells contain dead keratin and moisture.
Nurturing the New Cells
Once this process is understood, the importance of diet is more evident. Once nails, skin and hair are visible, they are basically past their prime. While there are ways to protect and moisturize the dead keratin cells, the best precautions for healthy hair and skin are found in providing the new, growing cells the right nutrients. The structure of skin insures a steady flow of blood and nutrients within the bottom, subcutis layer. This blood flow is the starting point for that healthy look so many admire, and the blood must provide the needed nutrients from an adequate diet.
The reality is that healthy looking hair and skin is admired because it actually reflects a healthy person. In other words, appearance, when it comes to hair and skin, is a good barometer of how well a person takes care of their body and diet. The flexibility and vibrancy of these external indicators are both closely related to the food and liquids one consumes.
Genetics, environment and other factors cause everyone’s skin to change its texture and flexibility with aging. At the same time, a proper, balanced diet will help delay this aging process in most cases. The same goes for hair. Most people loose from 20 to 100 hairs a day. While genetics will play the largest role in how long that hair is replaced by existing follicles, diet also determines the health of those follicles and the hair it creates.
What this means is that the ability to have the healthiest possible hair, skin and nails is the end result of a number of factors, with diet being one of the most important. Providing the right nutrients to the keratin cell during formation and growth is the key to presenting the healthiest appearance. Accordingly, the healthy diet will provide the necessary levels of:
- Vitamin C. All healthy hair and skin relies on the secretion of a special oil by the sebaceous glands. These glands in turn require the right levels of vitamin C, found in strawberries, oranges, broccoli, and grapefruit.
- B Vitamins. These vitamins play a key role in the creation of healthy red blood cells, and they help carry the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the keratin-creating cells in the skin.
- Vitamin E. Found in such popular foods as almonds, avocados and sweet potatoes, this vitamin is helpful for maintaining hair and treating damaged skin.
- Zinc. This essential mineral is found in pecans, Parmesan cheese, liver and pumpkin seeds.
- Magnesium. This is an important element that makes it easier for the body to absorb other nutrients. It is found in sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, cocoa powder, and various other nuts.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars or more a year to overcome the effects of poor eating habits, it’s wise to invest in hair and skin from the roots up with a healthy diet.