Irritated or aging skin? Thinning or dry hair? Brittle or unhealthy nails? While using topical products is a valid method of treatment, it also helps to consider that more often than not, external symptoms are a manifestation of some internal dysfunction or imbalance, whether it is too much of something or not enough of another. Consider the following potential underlying causes that are triggering your beauty blunders!
1. Nutrient Deficiencies (Protein, Iron, Omega Fats)
PROTEIN - The amino acids in protein are building blocks for thick, shiny hair and strong nails. Deficiency symptoms include dry, shedding hair and weak nails. As a general rule, aim to consume at least half of your body weight (lbs) in grams of protein per day! Specifically, collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. When levels fall; hair thins, skin sags & wrinkles and nails become brittle. Elastin fibers form a matrix with collagen in hyaluronic acid. Together these ingredients function to lock in moisture and make skin, hair and nails smooth, elastic and firm. With age, menopause and damage from toxins, our natural renewal rate of these nutrients slows down. Important collagen building blocks include Silica and Biotin, as well as Sulfur, Zinc and Vitamin C.
IRON - Symptoms of deficiency include brittle, peeling fingernails and hair loss. Hair follicles contain ferritin and when stores decline, it affects their ability to grow, and instead non-pigmented fine hairs develop. Vitamin B12 is also important for red blood cell production, metabolism and cell reproduction, thus helping to reduce skin dryness, unhealthy nails and hair loss. Note that low stomach acid, coffee/black tea consumption and phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of iron but Vitamin C intake can help increase it!
OMEGA FATS - Essential fatty acids are part of all cell membranes and are necessary for nourishing skin, hair and nails while retaining moisture/hydration, fighting inflammation, managing oil production, preventing and improving signs of aging (wrinkles, drying and thinning), stimulating production of healthy cells, treating skin conditions and protecting from damage/sunburn. Look for Omega 3’s (EPA & DHA) in ingredients such as fish oils and the Omega 6 fatty acid, GLA, from evening primrose and/or borage oils.
Consume healthy ingredients in adequate portions, consider a quality multivitamin and drink plenty of water to provide the nutrients needed for healthy hair, skin and nails. Focus on eating primarily: Whole, Raw, Alkalizing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant-Rich, Nutrient-Dense, Organic, Naturally-Grown/Raised ingredients.
2. Sluggish Liver
A congested liver is often bogged down by toxins (internal from constipation, poor digestion, candida/parasites or external from chemicals, heavy metals, medications & hormone mimickers in food/environment/body care/cleaning products) and cannot keep up with detoxification at a fast enough rate. When the liver performs inadequately, the body releases toxins through the skin, resulting in eruptions and conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis.
3. Stressed Lifestyle
High amounts of stress as well as lack of sleep lead to increased production of cortisol, our “chronic stress” hormone, and add stress on our adrenal glands. This not only accelerates the aging process but can also lead to symptoms such as hair loss and weakened skin.
4. Hormone Imbalances (Estrogen, Thyroid)
ESTROGEN - Hormonal imbalances, such as estrogen and testosterone levels can be the result of an overloaded liver, overexposure to hormone mimickers (xenoestrogens) or as a result of PMS, puberty and perimenopause. Imbalanced sex hormone levels are linked to various symptoms such as hair thinning/loss and unnatural growth as well as dry, wrinkled skin and acne outbreaks.
THYROID - The thyroid gland plays a major role in metabolism, growth and development. Symptoms of low thyroid include hair loss as well as dry, coarse and cracking skin. A TSH value greater than 2.0 can cause symptoms of low thyroid.
5. Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from stable molecules, causing a chain reaction of cell damage. This is one of the main causes of premature aging! Free radicals are the result of factors such as toxic buildup, poor diet (processed/fried foods), stress/insomnia, inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, etc. Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects. Antioxidants are used to neutralize free radicals and end this harmful chain reaction, protecting cells from damage!
6. Poor Gut Health & Inflammation
Digestion is impaired from poor eating habits, low enzymes/stomach acid, food sensitivities, stress, etc. This leads to imbalanced gut bacteria (dysbiosis), risk of overgrowth/infection, poor nutrient absorption, and tissue damage (i.e. leaky gut) which can result in an inflammatory overactive immune response. For example, alopecia (or “spot baldness”) is the result of the immune system seeing hair as foreign and targeting it by mistake. In addition, inflammation in the gut can lead to inflammation in the skin and can manifest itself as a number of skin conditions.
Other Considerations: Balance blood sugar levels & manage proper circulation, use natural personal care products, quit smoking, and use appropriate sun protection!
Ask a health care professional or product advisor for more information on natural support for any of the above concerns!
-This column in sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach -