The health of our skin, hair and nails is of vital importance to us as human beings as these components combine to help create our image to the world. Unfortunately our skin, hair and nails are lower on the priority list when it comes to our body’s nutrient distribution. The best of what we give our body needs to be allocated to our vital organs that keep us alive – heart, brain, liver, digestive organs and also our bones and muscles. Leftover nutrients can then be shared with other organs of lesser priority such as the skin, hair and nails. In other words, direction of health of the body is from the inside out.

It’s important to understand the body’s priority of health moving from the inside out because when treating certain conditions of the skin, hair and nails it can take a while for the body to respond, and often people give up before real changes have taken place. When working on nail health for example, it will usually take approximately 3 months before changes are observed, as this is the average time it takes for a nail to grow from the bed to the tip of the finger. Similarly with hair growth, if dietary changes are implemented and supplements are taken to enhance hair health, benefits may not be noticed for three to six months.

Common skin complaints include acne, eczema, fungal infections and issues with dry or oily skin. There needs to be a two level approach to treating any skin condition. Very simply this includes treating the skin from the inside out, and supporting that treatment with topical applications to provide symptomatic relief if required. Topical applications on their own may work literally as a ‘bandaid’ approach which simply means when the cream or ointment is stopped, the skin condition most likely returns within days or months. The cause of the skin condition therefore has not been dealt with and an approach to simply manage the symptoms has been implemented. Ideally both the cause of the condition and the symptoms need to be addressed for true and permanent healing to occur.

The skin is an elimination organ so whenever there is an issue with the skin, the health of the gastro-intestinal tract, especially the bowels needs to be considered. Often a congested bowel or an imbalance of healthy gut flora can lead to poor skin health.

Hair health can also be a reflection of internal health and wellness. Healthy hair will grow 1-2cm per month and have a healthy texture. Needless to say persistent colouring, straightening and blow-drying of hair will affect hair health, as will internal conditions such as ongoing stress and nutrient deficiency. Increased hair loss can be associated with an increase in stress, physical damage to the hair and also with poor thyroid health and other chronic diseases.  The longer and darker the hair, the more noticeable hair loss will be. Generally if the hair is falling out evenly, from all over the scalp and from the root, it is less of a concern than if it’s falling out leaving small bald patches or breaking along the hair shaft. As with treating the skin, the best approach is working from the inside out and ensuring correct nutrients are available for the body to promote healthy hair as well as protecting the hair externally from damage due to heat and chemicals.

Ultimately our skin, hair and nails will be a reflection of the quality of fuel we are giving our body on a daily basis. Naturally there are other issues that can influence our external physical body such as hormonal imbalance and the presence of chronic disease in the body such as auto immune disease.

Like skin and hair, nail health is a reflection of internal health and environmental stressors. Nails will be much stronger, grow faster and generally be of better quality if nutrient requirements of protein, zinc, calcium and silica are being met. White spots on the nails can be associated with zinc deficiency however trauma is the most common reason for the presence of white spots. Fungal infections of the nails (and skin) can respond very well to garlic applied topically as it comprises strong antifungal and antimicrobial constituents. Fresh, crushed garlic applied at night for a number of weeks (in some cases months) can clear up stubborn fungal infections. 

We are led to believe if we use certain products on our skin, hair and nails, then their health will blossom. But what happens when we stop using those products? Why has the health of our outer-self deteriorated in the first place? The skin can certainly benefit from topical application of nourishing natural products such as jojoba oil and rose hip oil but ultimately our internal health is what will drive the health of our outer body. The best nutrients you can give your skin, hair and nails is an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit. Try drinking a fresh vegetable juice on a daily basis for 12 weeks and see how you skin, hair and nails respond. The antioxidants in the juice will also help protect the cells from free radical damage due to stress and toxicity.  

Zinc is one of the most important minerals for skin, hair and nail health. A handful of peptitas per day and the inclusion of whole grains and nuts can help maintain good zinc levels. If a deficiency is present a professionally prescribed zinc supplement may be required to raise levels faster. Vitamin A is very important for skin health and is particularly indicated in conditions of acne. Vitamin A can be toxic in very high doses so unless professionally prescribed, it’s safer to load up on beta carotene as it’s the precursor to vitamin A and the body will convert only what it needs. Beta carotene is high in broccoli, carrots and other green or yellow vegetables.

Simply if you want to improve the health of your skin, hair and nails, it is best to fill up on natural, unprocessed food.  Reducing stress, caffeine, sugar, too much dairy and ensuring adequate sleep will also positively affect the health of your body internally and externally.

We are so much more than our external expression – more than skin deep. The health of our skin, nails and hair is very much a representation of our internal health, physically and emotionally.