Expert Advice for Eating Your Way to Amazing Hair, Skin, and Nails

Augusta Falletta
Photo by Paula Daniëlse/Getty Images

Photo by Paula Daniëlse/Getty Images

You can buy every moisturizer, exfoliator, at-home peel, and treatment you can find, but if you’re diet isn’t on point, it’ll show in your skin. Not to mention the fact that your diet will positively or negatively affect your hair and nails, too, depending on what you decide to put in your body. We’ve all heard of eating fish oil for shiny hair and upping the fresh fruits and veggies count for better skin, but we wanted to get straight to the point on eating our way to a more beautiful appearance.

Dr. David Bank, founder and director of The Center for Dermatology in New York, has become known for being particularly savvy in the ways of feeding your skin. We had the chance to pick his brain, so naturally we asked about the foods we should be eating more of, why certain skin issues occur, and the optimal times for eating certain foods to get the best benefits possible. Read on below to learn more about eating yourself pretty!

Beauty High: We’ve been hearing a lot about Greek yogurt for hair growth. What makes it so good for your hair?
Dr. David Bank: Greek yogurt contains calcium, protein, potassium, and vitamins that are not only good for your nutrition, but are also proven to be a great source of nutrients that promote strong and healthy hair growth.

Is it true that some foods help hair grow faster, not just stronger?
Certain foods help promote healthy hair. Fruits such as oranges and pineapples provide great sources of vitamin C, which helps collagen building. Foods containing biotin also help to promote healthy hair growth. This vitamin can be found in peanuts, almonds, eggs, and many other foods. Eating a healthy amount of protein also aids in healthy hair. Some healthy hair protein choices are fish, beans, eggs, yogurt, and lean meats.

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Are there certain foods you can eat to target specific skin issues? Or is eating these kinds of foods just a cure-all for overall health?
The best way to target most skin issues is to be mindful of what you consume. For best skin results, try to consume less processed foods, products high in sugar and salt, soda, etc. Instead, opt for water, fresh fruits and vegetables.

When you’re looking at ingredient labels, what are some red flags to watch for that can wreak havoc on skin?
As a consumer, it’s important to know what you are putting in and on your body. Certain ingredients that are red flags for skin are Diethanolamine and Monoethanolamine, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals commonly found in shampoos and soaps that may form cancer-causing agents. Petrolatum is an ingredient that prevents the skin from breathing and excreting.

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There’s a juicing kick happening on the diet circuit these days. Is it true that the sugars from juices and juice cleanses are actually causing more harm than good?
Excess sugars will bind themselves to proteins in the skin in a process known as glycation. Proteins in skin such as collagen and elastin, which help maintain a youthful appearance by keeping it plump and stretchy, are prone to glycation. Thus sugar can cause wrinkles and sagging.

Is there an optimal time of day to be eating certain kinds of foods? Conversely, is there a time of day you shouldn’t eat certain foods?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But while it is important, it is also more important to eat the right kind of breakfast. Oatmeal and wheat bread are great options for breakfast. For lunch it’s best to opt for something light. A small-portioned meal, like a salad, works wonders for your body. Dinner time is usually the time people consume the most food.  However, eating a meal too close to bedtime can lead to an increased blood sugar count. Ideally, you should eat dinner no later than three hours before you turn in for the night.