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By Nutrition Experts


Thursday, October 8, 2009.


You’ve come back from your summer holidays relaxed, refreshed and positively glowing with health! It’s not just the tan – fake or otherwise, that contributes to that radiance. A diet rich in summer fruit, vegetables and salads can improve health – and that shows on the outside. But with winter just around the corner, how long do you think you can keep that summer glow?


Cold, drying winds whip moisture from the skin and hair, layers of jumpers leave skin dry and flaking and even nails can become brittle and split more easily. So fight back against the elements and use your diet to your defence!


Pro-vitamin B5, fruit acids, vitamin E, alpha-hydroxy AHAs and copper. These are just some of the ingredients you’ll find, not on the shelves of a health food store, but in lotions and potions in the local chemist. Shampoo, face cream and anti-aging formulas all boast these nutritious ingredients, and while expensive ‘cosmoceuticals’ can help improve our outside appearance, we can also benefit from getting back to basics and eating these nutrients, too! After all, what you put into your body is just as, if not more important, than what you put on it!


Having a bad hair day?

Dry, lacklustre hair can be caused by a diet low in protein, the B vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid, iron, vitamin C or just plain old water.


Protein, B vitamins and iron are all involved in maintaining a healthy blood supply. A deficiency limits the supply to oxygen to the hair and scalp, resulting in slower hair renewal. With low vitamin C intake, hair can tangle and break more easily.


Looking for radiant skin?

If your skin is dull and dry, this could be a sign that your diet is low in protein, B vitamins, iron, copper or water. A sluggish blood supply that allows toxins to accumulate shows on your face!


Nailing the problem…

Brittle nails and slow nail growth can be signs of insufficient zinc, selenium, calcium or vitamins C, E and K in the diet. Without these, nail growth and circulation to the nail bed will be hampered and you’re left with brittle nails that chip easily or nails that just won’t grow!


The solution? Superfoods!


Good diet is the key to health – inside and out! So what foods can provide these excellent nutrients? Here’s our top 10:


Nuts and seeds are nutrition powerhouses. They are packed with vitamins B & E, and minerals including calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium – one single brazil nut, for example, provides twice the RDA of selenium! But they are also good sources of fibre and protein as well as being rich in healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that can improve cholesterol levels. But beware! Their high fat content means they are also full of calories – so stir a spoonful of seeds into your yoghurt but avoid sitting down with a full bag of peanuts. They are notoriously more-ish!


Most wholegrains are good sources of vitamins B & E. As wholegrain or ‘brown’ versions of foods contain more fibre than their refined or ‘white’ counterparts, they are more filling and release they energy more gradually. This means you’ll feel fuller for longer and are less likely to experience carb cravings. Swap white rice for brown (yes, it takes longer to cook, but isn’t it worth it?), plastic white bread for a satisfying wholemeal and experiment with other wholegrains – bulgar (cracked wheat) tabbouleh, cous cous…and re-discover porridge!


Avocadoes have been ditched by dieters for a long time but besides being an excellent source of folate and potassium, avocado's strength comes from its fat. The monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, can actually improve cholesterol levels and help control diabetes. The fibre content is impressive too. One avocado has more fibre than a Weetabix biscuit! The high vitamin E content is a great skin-booster – try an avocado face mask as well as enjoying guacamole with salsa!!


If you were force-fed vegetables as a child, you might be turned off greens – but these beleaguered veggies offer an amazing amount of magnesium, calcium, potassium, beta-carotene and the B vitamin folate. And let's not forget the cancer-fighting - and wrinkle-fighting - phytochemicals, too! Add spring greens to a winter salad, stir curly kale into a hearty sausage and bean soup or try something new like chard to add colour to a pasta dish.


Tea time! Skip the hob nobs and your tea break could boost your nutrition! Both green and black tea contain flavonoids that have excellent antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that regular tea consumption (up to three cups a day) decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke. A bonus to dieters: other studies have also shown tea to block some of the effects of fats after a heavy meal. But tea also contains caffeine that can dehydrate the body and leave your skin looking tired so have at least one glass of water to match every cup of tea.


We all know that filling up on colourful fruit and vegetables can help maintain a healthy weight. But they also contain fibre and a combination of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that’s more powerful than any supplement. These beneficial compounds give fruit and vegetables their colour, so include these seven colours of health on your plate: red (tomatoes); red-purple (grapes); orange (sweet potatoes); orange-yellow (oranges); yellow-green (avocadoes); green (broccoli) and white (onions and garlic). If it’s good for your insides, it’s good for your hair, skin and nails, too.


Beans and legumes are full of high quality protein, fibre and folate, packing a protective punch for your health as well as providing all those nutrients so necessary to healthy skin.


Salmon and oily fish have fewer calories than red meat and are a good source of protein without the LDL-raising saturated fat. These fish contain omega-3s which help lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of cardiovascular troubles. Not a fish fan? Smaller amounts of omega-3 can be found in soybean and rapeseed oils, flaxseeds and walnuts. Omega-3s are also thought to reduce inflammation while plumping and firming the skin.


Blueberries are hailed as the next superfood because they can lower cholesterol as well as some drugs as well as being full of potent antioxidants.


And last but certainly not least – water! Drinking 2 litres a day will keep that skin clear and hydrated, hair shiny and nails strong. It will also help keep cellulite at bay while firming and moisturising the skin from within!

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