Nutrient-Dense, Functional Foods Enhance Hair, Skin, and Nail Appearance

*Corresponding author: Kate Bauer, William Clearfield, Rochelle Ramacher, Pei-Ra Ling, Charles Marsland and Stacey J. Bell*

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original research



The American diet is nutrient-poor and rich in unhealthy compounds like sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. Whether food has an effect on appearance has not been fully elucidated. The purpose of this prospective, single-armed study was to evaluate the impact of consuming two nutrient-dense functional foods, which are low in salt, sugar, and saturated fats, on hair, skin, and fingernail health.


Both subjective (self-reported questionnaires and photographs) and objective (i.e., salivary pH and skin hydration) tests were used to evaluate appearance. Weekly compliance with nutrient-dense foods, body weight, and quality of life assessment were also recorded.


Participants(n=28) consumed most of the nutrient-dense foods and remained weight stable, which was the goal of the study to exclude the effect of changes in body weight on appearance. Neither objective measurement of appearance showed significant improvements. Subjective measurements using questionnaires specific to hair, skin, and fingernails improved significantly over the 8-week study. Rating of photographs that the participants took of themselves improved significantly over the 8-weeks. These included reduced redness, decreased pore size, and better skin color. Using an acne-rating scale, a significant improvement was observed at week 8 compared to baseline. The quality of life parameters improved significantly including feeling of well-being, feeling full, having more energy, sleeping better, having less stress, and being more focused.


Inclusion of two nutrient-rich, functional foods in the diet improved the appearance of hair, skin, and fingernails. These foods were well-received and easy-to-prepare, leading to excellent compliance with the dietary protocol.


Appearance; Diet; Functional foods; Nutrient-dense foods; Hair; Skin; Nails.