Don’t let your hair grow thin and brittle. Nutrition plays a huge part in the health of your hair, if only you know what to eat.
Our hair serves many purposes. It helps control the temperature around our very important brains by insulating the scalp from cold and heat and allowing sweat to stay where it is most needed to quickly cool the head. Our hair also offers protection from UV exposure and protects our eyes from dust, debris, and sweat. Hair is associated with the sensation of touch and there are theories that longer hair lets us sense more of our world. Hair is an important part of nonverbal communication, especially our eyebrows. Both women and men also use their hair to convey beauty and promote attraction.
This last reason has also given rise to huge industries that revolve around healthy, shiny, attractive, and beautiful hair. We pay large amounts of money for salons, hairdressers, and tons of products that clean, condition, color, curl, straighten, shine, and repair our locks. What we eat is also a factor in how our hair looks and feels.
These provide a relatively quick fix, something that can be seen in minutes or weeks. This is one of the reasons nutrition often falls to the sidelines. Hair is essentially dead protein fibers, the only living part just below the surface of our skin, and it grows slowly. This means it takes 3 to 6 months before you see a difference from the foods you eat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be eating well. Hair loss, weak or brittle hair, and other problems with your flowing tresses may be a sign of deeper illness, deficiency, and disease. Don’t just rely on bandages to treat the symptoms. Focus on curing your hair from the roots up.
Start by limiting your stress. Stress can turn off or inhibit healthy hair production, cause hair loss, and lead to early graying. Illness also damages hair. Get your body well and your hair will follow. Exercise relieves stress and optimizes your body’s ability to transport nutrients and oxygen, including to the scalp. Exercise also helps boost immune function. As you exercise and release stress, turn to wholesome organic foods to make your hair the best it can be in the long run.
Brazil nuts are one of the richest foods for selenium, a mineral linked to scalp health. Selenium helps the scalp resist infection and keeps dandruff at bay. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pecans are rich in zinc which keeps hair from shedding. Walnuts also contain vitamin E and biotin.
2. Whole Grains
Grains are rich in zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Grains like whole brown rice and oats or the grain-like quinoa are a good source of some healthy protein and carbohydrates. Protein is mainly what hair is made of and carbohydrates fuel all the many functions of the body, including hair growth. Grains are also a good source of biotin.
3. Orange Vegetables
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene. The body transforms this phytonutrient into vitamin A which is essential for scalp health. Sweet potatoes are another great way to get vitamin A along with some good complex carbohydrates.
4. Dark Green Vegetables
Dark greens supply plenty of beta-carotene and vitamin C. These two vitamins are important to scalp health and the production of sebum, the natural oily conditioner secreted by our hair follicles. Turnip greens, spinach, and broccoli are a few of the best greens for these nutrients along with iron.
5. Beans, Legumes, and Lentils
Protein is the building block of healthy hair. Lean protein from beans and lentils will aid hair growth while also supplying a good amount of iron, zinc, and biotin. Iron deficiencies can result in balding and biotin is crucial to strong, thick hair and nails.
Pumpkin, sesame, flax, and chia seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These good fats keep hair and scalp from becoming dry and dull, for vibrant shine and less brittle hair.
7. Coconut Oil
Another great source of healthy fats for shiny, healthy hair, coconut oil also reduces inflammation and aids circulation. It is one of the foods that work well internally and topically. You can use it directly on hair too to condition, repair, rehydrate, and strengthen your hair.
These buttery fruits are rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin B5. Vitamin B5 helps prevent graying. They can also be used directly on hair.
Bananas are a good source of healthy carbohydrates to fuel hair growth and vitamin B6. A deficiency in this B vitamin results in thinning hair. B6 aids in the absorption of nutrients and the production of red blood cells needed to nurture hair follicles. Bananas often find themselves in external hair treatments too.
Berries are rich in antioxidants that protect cells from damage that ages them. Antioxidants can help keep hair healthy, keep gray at bay longer, and prevent premature thinning. Many berries are rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that the body uses to create collagen, an important connective tissue used in bones, skin, and hair.