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New Year, New You: Nutrition for glowing skin, strong nails and shiny hair

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help counteract skin damage.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help counteract skin damage. (Vladimir Maravic)

A nutritionist from University of Maryland Medical System regularly provides a post to the Picture of Health blog. The latest post is from Stacy Pelekhaty.

Cold weather, dry, indoor air and the indulgences of the holidays may have your hair, skin and nails looking a little tired. If that’s the case, here are a few tips to help you glow from the inside out.

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Chew colorfully

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help counteract skin damage from stress, aging and pollution. Try to eat at least 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors such as orange, yellow, dark green, blue, purple and red. Canned and frozen are just as nutritious as fresh, just choose options without added sugars or salts.

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Season smartly

A high-salt diet can cause fluid retention and puffy eyes so use herbs and salt-free seasoning to add flavor. Turmeric is a potent antioxidant common in Indian cuisine that helps fight wrinkles and calms inflammation.

Find flavonoids

Flavonoids are found in chocolate and soy. They help support a healthy heart and healthy skin. Contrary to popular belief, chocolate does not cause acne. But a diet high in refined sugar may worsen acne so limit portions and choose the darkest chocolate you find enjoyable.

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Mind your minerals

Iron builds healthy blood cells to carry nutrients to your skin, while zinc plays an important role in cell turnover. Red meat and shellfish are rich in both iron and zinc. Non-animal sources include beans, lentils, spinach and whole grains. Plant sources are more easily absorbed when combined with vitamin C so have salsa on your black bean burrito or whole wheat pasta with broccoli.

Hydrate!

Being well-hydrated helps your skin maintain that dewy, youthful glow. To determine your target daily fluid intake in ounces, divide your weight in pounds by 2. For example, a 150 lb person would need about 75 oz, or 9 8-oz glasses of water per day. Green tea is a great way to hydrate and sneak in extra antioxidants.

Enjoy essential fats

Fats help your skin retain moisture. Include healthy fats from olive oil, avocados, fish (like salmon), flax and nuts. Brazil nuts are great sources of selenium, a potent antioxidant as well.

Add in activity

Regular exercise that raises your heart rate helps ensure your skin, hair and nails are getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to look their best. Aim for 30 minutes of intentional daily activity.

Here’s a sample daily menu for beauty from within:

Breakfast

Berry Overnight Oats

0.5 Cup oats

1 Cup unsweetened soy milk

1 TBSP flax meal

0.5 Cup frozen berries

Combine and chill overnight, eat cold or warm.

Lunch

Spinach salad with walnuts, grapefruit sections, butternut squash and 0.5 Cup each cooked quinoa and beans. Mix up a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric and a pinch of nutmeg.

Dinner

Salmon roasted with sweet potatoes, bell peppers and avocado. Drizzle with a mix of olive oil, pepper, cumin, garlic and lime juice before roasting. Meat-free? Sub in extra-firm Tofu marinated for 30 minutes in the oil mixture.

Snacks

1 oz dark chocolate

Whole fruit

Carrots with nut butter

A growing number of dieticians and doctors are practicing nutritional genetics - or looking at the way variations in genes can modify the affects of nutrients on health. They are using it to help patients figure out which foods they should eat, and avoid, for their biological makeup.

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