Discover foods to make your complexion glow and your hair healthy and strong.

 Best Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair

Sometimes all the skincare in the world can’t help a dry, flaky and dull complexion. When that happens, it’s time to take a deeper look inside.

“Just like a car, our skin and hair need fuel in order to thrive. When we don’t put nutritious food into our bodies, it’s almost guaranteed that you will feel and see the effects of it,” says Joy McCarthy, founder of Joyous Health and Genuine Health brand ambassador, who talked to us about how to heal your skin from within. “Eating poorly leaves your body bankrupt because you require nutrients every day for your body to function optimally. If you don’t get these vital nutrients from food, your body has to take shortcuts. Ultimately, your beauty, energy and vitality suffer.”

And we definitely don’t want that to happen! Read on for more nutrition tips on beauty-fueling foods.

Beauty-Fueling Nutrients

So what can we do to keep our skin supple and our hair shiny? Add nutrients and foods rich in “good healthy fats, a great source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the greatest anti-inflammatory nutrients found in nature,” says McCarthy.

“Protein is a building block of every single cell in your entire body. Your hair gets its structure from keratin and without enough protein for keratin, your strands will weaken and grow slowly,” she explains. If your hair is dull, lifeless or falling out, McCarthy recommends adding more proteins, such as eggs, fish, chicken, beans and lentils, to your diet to reverse the effects.

Best Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair

Don’t forget vitamins! Look for foods rich in “B vitamins such as folate, B6 and B12, which are all involved in the creation of red blood cells and carry nutrients to your skin and scalp,” says McCarthy. If your complexion is dry and flaky, it could mean a deficiency in Vitamin A, as “it helps to promote proper repair and maintenance of the skin.” Not enough Vitamin D, “which most Canadians are deficient in, can lead to hair loss and dry skin,” she adds.

Ditch These Beauty Killers

As with any diet that requires better nutrition, there are also some terrible foods for the skin and hair that we should avoid. Eating these foods could cause breakouts, poor skin texture, premature wrinkles and inflammation.

Foods that Fight Beauty

Stay away from “processed, frozen and canned foods full of sugar, salt and bad fat including movie popcorn, canned soup and frozen dinners,” says McCarthy, and don’t buy “margarine, shortening, or processed liquid fats (oil) in plastic bottles. These fats and oils are rancid and may contain hormonally disruptive BPA in the bottle’s plastic.”

Some daily proteins are also bad for us. “Smoked and cured meats, including bacon luncheon, deli meats, sausages and ham because they contain carcinogenic nitrates and cause inflammation in the body,” says McCarthy, “as do meats cooked at extremely high temperatures or cooked to well-done.”

Sugar is “the worst offender, so ditch sweetened or artificially sweetened soft drinks, flavoured drinks, juice and tea,” says McCarthy. Along the same lines, fried foods, including french fries, potato chips, donuts and onion rings, contain an excess of salt, sugar, and bad oils that can dampen your beauty game.

"Finally, avoid MSG, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, additives and chemicals you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce,” advises McCarthy.

What Makes You (More) Beautiful

While the list of foods to avoid may overwhelm you, the list of foods to eat bursts with variety, so you won’t miss your french fries, we promise!

Best Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair

“Dark berries (like goji berries or raspberries) contain the highest levels of vitamin C, which helps to reduce inflammation and promote collagen production,” says McCarthy. “I love throwing dark berries into my smoothie or making a compote to pair with gluten-free pancakes!”

Coconut oil is a healthy fat, and also acts as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It works great as a moisturizer for the skin, but if you want nourishment on the inside too, McCarthy suggests incorporating coconut oil into your baking or using it as a high-heat stable oil to sauté vegetables.

Best Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair

“Fish is one of the most beautifying foods, particularly oily fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel that are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Omega-3s help combat aging, acne and eczema due to their anti-inflammatory properties,” says McCarthy. “Fish oils also help to lubricate and moisturize from the inside out!”

We know dark chocolate can be good for us, but try taking it a step further. “Raw cacao is incredibly high in antioxidants that protect the skin cells from damaging and aging free radicals. It’s also very high in magnesium that’s known to aid in decreasing stress,” says McCarthy. She suggests using cacao as a substitute for cocoa in recipes to reap the benefits.

Best Beauty Foods for Healthy Skin and Hair

Finally, fermented foods are great beauty boosters. McCarthy suggests trying out sauerkraut, kimchi, miso paste, tempeh, and kombucha. "These foods support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut for healthy digestion,” she notes. "When you have healthy digestion, you have healthy, glowing skin, since good digestion keeps inflammatory chemicals in check that can otherwise manifest as acne and eczema.”