Our hair, skin and nails reflect many biochemical imbalances in the body. Emotional imbalances due to stress can manifest in skin irritation and problems with hair and nails. But more so, what we eat and the lack of nutrition in our food can immediately appear in the condition of our hair, skin and nails. Avoiding these foods may help:
- High Mercury Fish – excessive levels of mercury deposited from too much fish can result in unexplained hair loss. With the rise in popularity of sushi and trendy low carb diets, more people than ever are at risk for consuming too much mercury. Swordfish, mackerel and even tuna contain high levels of mercury. The FDA recommends canned light tuna, salmon or shrimp as they have lower mercury levels.
- Sugar – When you ingest sugar, your body breaks it down into glucose, which raises your insulin levels. Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar, white bread and soda cause your insulin levels to spike, which can lead to a burst of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles. It can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. The more sugar you eat, the more likely it is you’ll develop insulin resistance, which can manifest as excess hair growth and dark patches on the neck and in body creases.
- Milk – Milk contains growth hormones similar to testosterone and may stimulate oil glands in the skin, setting the stage for acne. One study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the diets of 47,355 women and found a strong connection between milk and milk product (ie. cream cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cottage cheese) intake and acne breakouts. Another study, of 4,273 teenaged boys also found an association between milk and acne flare-ups.
- Vitamin A – Overdoing vitamin A-containing supplements or medications can trigger hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The daily value for vitamin A is 5,000 International Units (IU) per day for adults and kids over age 4; supplements can contain 2,500 to 10,000 IU. Fortunately, it’s reversible. Once the excess vitamin A is halted, hair should grow normally.
- High Glycemic Foods – Two out of three acne causes are related to oil production. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some of that excess oil production may be diet related. This study found that high glycemic foods – processed foods like bread and refined grains that are quickly broken down into sugar – can cause changes in the body that lead to increased cellular growth and oil production, which can increase the chances of developing acne.