Having beautiful hair, skin, and nails is more than just a confidence-booster–it’s an indication of your overall health. Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? It’s also your fastest growing organ, which means cell turnover is happening all the time. This rapid turnover, combined with the fact that you can actually see your skin, acts as a barometer for your current state of health from the outside in.
Let’s take a look at just how intimately your skin health is connected to your whole-body health, and then I’ll share some tips for how to keep your hair luscious, your skin glowing, and your nails long, strong, and beautiful.
The Gut-Skin Connection
When I say “your gut is the gateway to health”, that includes the health of your skin! In fact, chronic skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis, are typically a sign of an underlying gut issue.
Your gut and your skin play very similar roles. Both act as the front lines to defend your body against invading pathogens, and your skin even has its own microbiome! New research explores the relationship of what’s known as the “gut-skin axis”, and how food, gut infections, and conditions such as leaky gut can impact your skin health.1 That’s because your skin is one of your body’s major detoxifiers. Inflammation and toxins in your gut will inevitably penetrate into your bloodstream and show up as skin inflammation as your skin attempts to purge your body of its toxic burden.
Repair Your Gut For Healthy Skin
Repairing your gut is the first step to healthy, blemish-free skin. However, there are also external factors to consider, including environmental toxins, UV damage from sun exposure, air pollution, and even personal care products that could be doing more harm than good. Use the following tips to protect your skin from the inside and the outside, and SEE the results with beautiful hair, skin, and nails you can flaunt!
1. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Due to the influence of the gut-skin axis, there is a strong correlation between what you eat and chronic skin issues. The Western diet is full of toxic and inflammatory foods including sugar, dairy, and refined cooking oils and carbs. These foods have been associated with an increased prevalence of acne.2
Fortunately, by switching to an anti-inflammatory diet such as The Myers Way®, you can encourage the growth of new, healthy skin cells, and say goodbye to irritated and inflamed skin for good. Check out this article for my list of top inflammation-fighting foods.
2. Heal Your Infections
Gut infections can play a huge role in the appearance and condition of your skin. One study showed that 46% of patients with rosacea tested positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). When treated with Rifaximin (the standard antibiotic treatment for SIBO) the majority of patients in the study experienced significant improvement in their rosacea.3
Likewise, Candida overgrowth can be at the root of your eczema, dandruff, nail fungus, and other skin issues. Candida, or yeast cells, are able to permeate your gut lining, causing your gut to become leaky and allowing toxins, microbes, and yes, yeast, to escape your gut and travel throughout your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, Candida can colonize other areas of your body, including your skin, which explains why researchers have found Candida in skin cultures of eczema patients.4
The good news is, by healing your infections, you can also reclaim clear skin and overcome other chronic conditions without resorting to expensive topical medications, which may only work short-term and don’t really get to the root of the issue.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is super important for healthy, supple skin. All of your body’s cells, including your skin cells, are made up of water and therefore require plenty of hydration to function properly. Without enough water, your skin will become dry, flaky, and wrinkly. Water is also necessary for the detoxification process, helping to flush toxins from your body.
Unfortunately, you lose water quickly throughout the day and any water you drink goes to all your other organs first, before reaching the skin. To keep your skin well-hydrated, be sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, and if you’re very active or outside in hot weather you’ll need to drink even more. I keep a reusable stainless steel water bottle with me at all times to help me stay hydrated while on-the-go!
4. Support Your Detoxification Pathways
Your liver, kidneys, and lungs are your body’s major detoxifying organs. When these become overburdened, toxins begin to ooze out of your skin as a way to flush them out of your body. This can cause all sorts of blemishes and skin-related issues, so you’ll want to make sure your detoxification pathways are functioning as optimally as possible to keep your skin from working overtime.
In addition to drinking water, there are other ways you can support your detoxification pathways to help eliminate the buildup of toxins in your body. Eating detoxifying foods can help, including artichokes, beets, broccoli, grapefruit and spinach. See this article for some of my favorite foods to help you detox naturally.
You can also supplement with glutathione, which is your body’s #1 nutrient for detoxification. Along with being a potent detoxifier, glutathione replenishes your supply of free-radical fighting vitamins C and E, and strengthens your immune system to help combat DNA damage and pathogens that harm the health of your skin.
5. Fight Free Radicals
Speaking of free radicals, too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants can lead to DNA damage and oxidative stress which shows up as wrinkles, dry, lifeless skin, gray hair, and other classic signs of aging.5
The antioxidant “royal trio” is made up of vitamins A, C, and E. These antioxidants slow skin damage, encourage cellular repair and renewal, and help your body produce collagen and elastin–two vital proteins that improve your skin’s structure and elasticity. Food sources of these free-radical fighters include:
- Vitamin A
- Butternut squash
- Collard greens
- Vitamin C
- Bell peppers
- Vitamin E
- Swiss chard
You can also get these essential nutrients from a high-quality multivitamin, which I recommend virtually everyone take in order to ensure optimal health and wellness that goes beyond skin-deep.
6. Build Your Zinc and Biotin Stores
As mentioned above, collagen and elastin are the two main proteins that keep your skin firm and supple, and help prevent sagging and wrinkling. Zinc is an essential micronutrient that encourages collagen formation and elastin production, leading to a reduction in wrinkles and smooth, youthful skin. It helps prevent photodamage caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays (which is why zinc oxide is so often used in sunscreens), encourages hair growth, and has a long history of medical use for a wide range of dermatological issues.6 Zinc is also a vital nutrient if you have thyroid dysfunction such as Hashimoto’s, which can lead to hair loss.
The other nutrient you want to focus on for beautiful hair, skin, and nails is biotin. Biotin is a B vitamin that strengthens your hair and nails. It is found naturally in foods such as liver, cauliflower, wild salmon, avocados, and swiss chard.7 Low levels of biotin can cause thinning hair and brittle nails. Research shows that supplementing with biotin (also known as vitamin B7) significantly improved hair growth in women experiencing hair loss.8
7. Take Probiotics
Because your skin health is so closely connected with your gut health, probiotics can be just as beneficial for your skin as your gut. By restoring balance to your gut, probiotics improve a number of skin disorders, including eczema, acne, and psoriasis, and can even bolster your skin’s innate immune system.9 This makes sense considering your skin has its own microbiome. The friendly bacteria on your skin act as a protective coating against bad bacteria, air pollution, and free radicals.
If you are working to repair your gut–and your skin–I recommend a high-potency probiotic such as my Probiotic Capsules 100 Billion. You may then switch to a maintenance dose of 30 billion CFUs. As a side note, if you are currently dealing with SIBO, you will want to take a soil-based probiotic until your infection has cleared, as typical probiotics can actually make the bacterial overgrowth worse.
8. Defend Against Damaging UV Rays
Most of these tips have been focused on internal solutions for beautiful hair, skin, and nails. However, protecting your skin from external damage is just as important. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can causing photo-aging and increase your risk of skin cancer. Although you don’t typically think of your hair and nails being at risk for UV damage, they are an extension of your skin and therefore can be harmed as well. UV rays can cause nails to become brittle and hair to become discolored, dry, frizzy, and thin.10
Minimizing your time in the sun during peak hours is important, and when you do go out be sure to wear sun-protective clothing, a hat to protect your hair and, of course, sunscreen. Because many sunscreens are actually toxic and do more harm than good, you’ll want to choose a mineral-based sunscreen free of dangerous chemicals. My favorite brand of sunscreen is Beautycounter for their transparency of ingredients and commitment to safe, natural, and sustainable alternatives.
9. Switch to Non-Toxic Body Products
Toxic sunscreens aren’t the only products that can cause your skin more harm than good. Anything you put on your skin–lotions, cosmetics, deodorants, cleansers, etc.–can be hiding hundreds of undisclosed chemical compounds that irritate and inflame your skin. And because your skin is so porous, these toxins can easily penetrate your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body, wreaking havoc on more than just your skin.
The ugly truth is that 80% of new industrial chemicals are approved within 3 weeks or less with little to no safety testing done–and that includes chemicals used in our personal care and beauty products. For choosing safe body products, always READ the ingredients! If any of the following appear on your label, steer clear!
Toxic Ingredients in Body Products:
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- PEG compounds like propylene glycol
- Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
- Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Coal tar dyes
- Fragrance or parfum
As with sunscreen, I trust Beautycounter for all my personal care products, however any brand without the above toxic chemicals is a safe bet for keeping your skin–and your whole body–vibrant.
10. Consider Skin-Loving Supplements
In terms of supplements for supporting gorgeous skin and locks, collagen is without a doubt my number one recommendation. Collagen is an essential building block of your skin, making it supple and firm, and helping your hair and nails grow long and strong. It also helps seal the leaks in your gut to prevent toxins, microbes, and yeast cells from escaping into your bloodstream and wreaking havoc on your skin. As you age, you naturally start producing less and less collagen, which is why supplementing is so important to maintain your youthful glow.
Omega-3s can also be helpful for maintaining youthful skin, as they reduce inflammation and regulate oil production to prevent acne and signs of aging. Research shows that the Omega-3 fatty acid EPA can also prevent the release of UV-induced enzymes that break down collagen and cause wrinkles and saggy skin.11
Similarly curcumin, the active component of turmeric, can help quell inflammation that leads to skin blemishes. Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to provide a golden glow and luster to skin.12 Studies have even shown that curcumin may be beneficial for collagen production and accelerate wound healing.13
And, as I mentioned earlier, a multivitamin that provides you with vitamins A, C, E, biotin, and zinc can be a potent part of your beauty regimen, along with detoxifying glutathione and gut-friendly probiotics. While you’re at it, why not add a scoop of Organic Greens to your water for a hydrating antioxidant boost? Your skin will thank you.
Outer beauty is a sign of inner wellness. These lifestyle tips go beyond skin-deep, so you can feel confident knowing that you are nourishing your body, both inside and out. And by taking control of your health, you will get the added bonus of beautiful hair, skin, and nails so you can look as young as you feel!