For decades, Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, has been telling people how to look and feel better. Through her Washington, D.C.-based firm, Personalized Nutrition, her wellness programs have been featured at the United State Senate, White House Athletic Center and on CNN.
"If there was a magic pill, it would be on the market," says Tallmadge. "However, there are some basic elements. The most important is water. Without out enough, your skin gets dehydrated looking and wrinkles show."
She adds that secondly only to water is protein, but make that lean protein. This element is vital because all of our body cells are made of it.
"The third essential nutrient would be heart-healthy fats," Tallmadge says. "Without enough fat, the skin can dry out and you need it in order to absorb fat-soluble vitamins that are very important for skin, hair and nails. Don't go on a fat-free diet."
She points out that you don't want animal fats. Choose avocados, nuts and the oils like canola and olive.
"Also, one study showed that teens who ate the most simple carbohydrates and processed foods [sweets, white flour products] had more acne," Tallmadge says. "You want to eat more fruits and vegetable; whole grains and natural whole foods."
We don't often think of it that way, but the skin is a major organ. And, it needs a full range of vitamins and minerals. Be certain you are getting enough zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins E, C, B and A. Eat real food rather than just popping a pill. Tallmadge warns that overdosing on certain vitamins can be harmful.
"A big mistake that women make when they are dieting is that they are not getting enough protein or fats plus they are eating a lot of processed food," she says. "Hair loss can be a side effect of some of the popular diets."
Tallmadge warns not to undo good eating habits with these skin, hair and nail damagers:
- Cigarette smoke and exposure to other pollutants
- Alcoholic beverages
- Sugar-laden sweets
- Processed foods
- Low-calorie diets
- Low-fat diets