You Are What You Eat

Leslie Baumann, M.D. reminds us of the importance of diet on skin and nail health.

A model does her nails backstage beforeFor years, the skin care industry has focused so much attention on what we put on our bodies that it has all but obscured the importance of what we put in our bodies. All of that is rapidly changing as dermatologists, researchers, and skin care companies alike focus increasing attention on nutrition’s role for glowing, healthy skin.

Nutritional supplements are a great way to ensure that your diet is consistent. But there’s no substitute for a healthy, well-rounded diet. Consider these on your next visit to the grocery store:

  • Look for omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon, tilapia, and cod, or in flax seed and flax seed oil. Many eggs are now fortified with omega-3 too. Our bodies cannot make these essential fatty acids crucial for bolstering the skin barrier, which keeps moisture in and irritants out; so it’s important to get them through diet and supplements.
  • Leafy greens, squash, carrots, and mangoes are among the foods rich in vitamin A, which helps decrease skin’s oil production. There is also some evidence that vitamin A may improve psoriasis, since Retin-A (which is derived from vitamin A) and other vitamin A drugs have proven successful in treating it.
  • It can be hard to get enough vitamin D, typically known as the vitamin we get from sun exposure, through your diet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include it in your meals as much as possible! In addition to fortified foods (particularly milk), eggs, fish (salmon and cod are great options), and liver are rich sources of this crucial nutrient.
  • Do your cooking with vegetable oils, and snack on a handful of almonds each day because those are great sources of vitamin E. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E can help prevent the signs of skin aging and even bolster your defenses against skin cancer.
  • Green tea, pomegranate, and berries are wonderful sources of antioxidants. As more and more topical products tout their antioxidant activity, it’s important to remember that a combination of topical and oral antioxidants is always best to fight free radicals. These molecules, with their uneven number of electrons, cause damage to cell membranes, lipids, proteins, and DNA.
  • The best treatment for nails is biotin, 2.5mg twice a day, with many studies supporting this. I find that low protein diets and fad diets lead to weak nails, so add a whey protein powder to your food. Rub oils such as Argan or safflower into cuticles to hydrate nails.

View the full article in the September/October issue of Professional Beauty.

To learn more about Leslie Baumann, M.D. visit www.derm.net