As more of us are becoming aware that we are responsible for our own health and wellness – we are also beginning to understand the importance of the personal choices we make every day. Whether it is the foods we choose to eat, the supplements we take or the products we use on our bodies – we know that the more natural it is – the better it is for our overall health and well-being.
We all want our hair to look healthy – be stronger, thicker and have more shine. But our body cannot produce healthy hair if our diets are lacking in the basic nutritional building blocks. Researchers are finding that our diets play a critical role in the health of our hair. If we restrict our calories and fall short on protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids – this can lead to issues with the production and structure of our hair follicle cells. The result will be thinning hair, hair breakage and ultimately hair loss. Also, the natural aging process, hormonal imbalances and stress has to be considered as this can affect the condition of our hair and hair growth.
What to eat for healthy hair
Proteins: Hair is made primarily of protein so get plenty of it by eating oily fish, lean meats, grilled chicken and turkey, legumes and beans, eggs and full-fat dairy products like Greek yoghurt and cheese.
Fats: Cold-water oily fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and herring are delicious and also packed with protein. Monounsaturated fats like cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are the best for sautéing your foods and for use in salad dressings.
Essential Fatty Acids and Omegas: The highest concentrations are found in cold water fish, nuts and seeds and plant oils. Avocados are also high in these nutrients.
Vegetables & Fruits: For the most gorgeous healthy hair, eat 7-10 portions of fresh vegetables and fruit every day.
Vegetables: spinach, sweet potatoes, sweet orange and red peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, carrots, onions, garlic, beetroot, green beans.
Fruits: all berries, avocados, guavas, oranges, pineapple, figs, peaches, watermelon, bananas, apples, papayas, pomegranate, apricots, kiwi, grapefruit, mangos, cantaloupe melons.
Seeds and Nuts: Flax, chia, hemp, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are all great sources of healthy fats, protein, fiber and antioxidant polyphenols. Add them to your yoghurt, salads, smoothies and oatmeal.
Healthy and nutritious nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and hazelnuts. Almond, peanut, pumpkin and cashew nut butters are delicious – try them on wholegrain toast as a healthy snack.
Supplements - Vitamins and Minerals
Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that we can take to help us grow thick healthy hair quickly. And if we are not getting enough nutrients from our diets – we may need to help our body along by adding individual supplements or a good multi-vitamin and mineral combination to support healthy hair growth. Look for these ingredients listed on your multi-vitamin or consider an additional supplementation.
Iron: When Iron levels are low it can really affect the hair growth cycle. This important mineral carries oxygen to the hair root and helps boost circulation which is critical for healthy skin and hair.
Vitamin C: This amazing anti-oxidant encourages the growth of new hair. It also has antiviral properties so it helps fight bacteria on the scalp and helps with dandruff and dry itchy skin conditions. It helps in the production of collagen which strengthens the hair shafts. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb Iron and Magnesium
Vitamin D: This vitamin powerhouse affects the health of many parts of the body, including the skin and hair. Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing existing hair from thinning or falling out prematurely. It restores healthy hair growth by creating new healthier hair follicles.
Vitamin A: This is another great antioxidant which encourages the healthy growth of sebum. Sebum is the natural oily substance created by our sebaceous glands which a healthy scalp requires to create soft and gorgeous hair. Without adequate sebum we may suffer from dry and brittle hair and an itchy scalp.
Vitamin E: This prevents hair loss, supports a healthy scalp, can reduce cell damage and also provide protection for our hair from sun damage. As well as being great for your heart - Vitamin E is also an anti-inflammatory, it encourages capillary growth which is why it’s so good for your hair and for new hair growth.
Omega-3-6-9 Essential Fatty Acids: Omega fatty acids are important fats our body cannot make itself, and therefore must be obtained through our diet. Omegas are found in the cells that line the scalp and also provide the oils that keep the scalp and hair hydrated.
Zinc and Selenium: Protection of the scalp involves important minerals, notably Zinc and Selenium. A lack of Zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp.
Biotin: This is a water-soluble B vitamin. Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss. Biotin stimulates keratin production and can increase the rate of hair follicle growth.