Healthy food and diets to improve your hair and skin

by My Kent Family reporter

With the UK beauty and personal care market valued at around £13 billion a year, it's clear that consumers are willing to invest cash - and time - to look good.

Make-up, skincare and supplements can work wonders, but if you're not careful, they may just be masking the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.

"So few of us actually consider what goes on inside. We spend a lot of money on pills, potions and lotions and actually none of that can undo the effects of a bad diet so it is so important to get the foundations right first, " says Consultant Dietitian Lucy Jones.

There are certain foods that are better than others when it comes to improving your skin and hair - and fish is one of them
There are certain foods that are better than others when it comes to improving your skin and hair - and fish is one of them

"Hydration, of course, is super important for our skin. Get your hydration sorted out, make sure you're having balanced meals with balanced food groups," she advises. "And, of course, by eating well and drinking well you will sleep better and that has a big impact on your looks."

A varied diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables is vital, but did you know there are certain foods that are better than others when it comes to improving your skin and hair? And they aren't all fruit or veg.

Here, Lucy reveals five beauty-boosting foods and how you can incorporate them into your diet...

Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack
Natural, unsalted almonds are a tasty and nutritious snack

1. Almonds

"Most people now know that vitamin E, an antioxidant, helps to protect cells from oxidative damage, which is really important in terms of beauty. One portion of almonds, which is a handful, contains 60% of your daily requirement of Vitamin E.

"Almond milk tends to be much lower in calories so for anybody trying to watch their weight it can be very helpful. Standard almond milks are often fortified with calcium, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. So, for that reason when people go completely plant-based in their diet, I often tell them not to go organic when it comes to things like almond milk because it's not fortified and you want the fortification."

Avocados are also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids
Avocados are also loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids

2. Avocados

"Fats are needed in a healthy, balanced diet, from keeping our cells supple right through to our nails. There is increasing evidence about a specific essential fatty acid called linoleic acid in terms of nail health for preventing dryness, cracking and brittleness.

"Most of our fat should come from plant-based sources like avocado. I would have one slice of wholegrain toast with almond butter, one slice of toast with smashed avocado and an egg and some smoked salmon and then some mushrooms on the side."

3. Fish

"Zinc is the only nutrient with an EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) approved claim of supporting nail health. Sources in your diet are meat and fish, and again nuts like almonds. For zinc, shellfish is particularly good and organ meats as well."

Vitamin D is a big beauty nutrient, and shiitake mushrooms are packed with it
Vitamin D is a big beauty nutrient, and shiitake mushrooms are packed with it

4. Oils

"We have had a generation of people on low-fat diets which is not good for beauty, because fat plays such a role in cell-structure. But you can certainly get the wrong balance of them and the wrong proportion. Most of our fat should come from plant-based foods like olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts and seeds, and oily fish."

5. Shiitake mushrooms

"We don't tend to eat much of them but sun-ripened mushrooms, like shiitake mushrooms, are really high in vitamin D. Vitamin D is a big beauty nutrient, it plays a role in our nail health, our general health, in our immune systems, right through to our bone health."

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