Hair and Nails: Mirrors of Your Health
We love taking care of our hair and nails, its obvious! Just look at the multitude of beauty products piled high in the cosmetics aisle: creams, oils, masks, sprays and other treatments made from secret ingredients… but before spending all your money on products full of promise, start by taking care of the inside, because hair and nail beauty begins with a high quality diet; it’s not marketing, it’s a physiological certainty!
Skin appendages (or skin adnexa) is the scientific name given to body hair, hair, and nails. Unlike with animals, if they have lost most of their original function, they remain important, if only for their esthetic function. But besides their esthetic appearance, they are also very good reflections of the state of our health.
Our diet is at the heart of hair and nail development because food is what provides us with the nutrients essential for their production. If you build a car with poor quality parts, it will break, run poorly, and its appearance will be far from lustrous. The same goes for our hair and nails: if we don’t give them quality, hair will be dull, fine and have a tendency to fall out while our nails will be brittle, weak, or fragile.
And know that if your hair and nails are not beautiful, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Your entire organism isn’t receiving all that it needs.
Your hair and nails are primarily made of keratin. Keratin is formed by cells called keratinocytes, keratin fibers are assembled thanks to chains made of sulfur. They protect our skin appendages and promote their strength. Keratin is composed of 18 amino acids, two of which are particularly important for keratin synthesis: cysteine and methionine, as they play a major role in linking the fibers together. We therefore understand the importance of a diet rich in protein and especially sulfur-containing amino acids.
The Power of Grains
Give grains pride of place: wheat, barley, spelt, quinoa, and buckwheat offer between 12 and 16g of protein per 100g, the last two having the added advantage of containing the 8 essential amino acids that our body cannot synthesize. Don’t forget pulses such as lentils, chickpeas, split peas, or haricot beans (around 8 to 9g/100g). Aim for sources of cysteine (garlic, onions, eggs) and methionine (avocado, lentils, onions), which are indispensible for building healthy skin appendages.
Another element that intervenes in their growth and development is zinc. Zinc deficiency is very common so we need to consume it regularly. This is even more relevant if you follow a vegetarian diet, because zinc from vegetable sources is not absorbed as well as zinc from animal sources. Zinc is found in walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, cumin and coriander seeds, broad beans, quinoa, eggs and dairy products. It has the added advantage of fighting against skin conditions like acne.