What if you only have to eat 7 foods to transform your thin hair to thick?
Won’t that be wonderful? You can manage 7 foods. It’s a small list. But… there’s a But.
Finding the right food for hair growth is like finding the right clothes to wear. We all go shopping for clothes and don’t just pick up the first thing we see. (Although you may, sometimes).
Most time we go shopping, there’s an agenda.
We are shopping for everyday wear or we are shopping for a festive occasion, a holiday trip or a particular season. And that’s because we can’t wear sweaters all year round. When I lived in Mumbai, I never wore a jumper. It was not cold enough to put on warm clothes.
What does this have to do with food for hair?
Like clothes, our diets vary with changes of season.
So in summer we eat melon, cucumber, rice and other cooling foods. Whereas in winter, we eat warming foods like nuts, seeds and hot soups. Also, the food will vary considerably around the world.
So putting a list of 7 foods or even 70 foods for healthy hair won’t cover everything.
Anyhow, I still list 7 foods, which are nutrient and antioxidant dense and found in most parts of the world. Also, I share with you useful tips on what food groups or vitamins you can include to make hair grow thicker and stronger. (Don’t forget to read bonus tips at the bottom of the page.)
I list cucumbers at the top because they are liked by most people. And they are packed with antioxidants and detoxifying properties.
The antioxidants in cucumber help our body get rid of free radicals. And the faster we get rid these free radicals, the better it is for us. Free radical build up can cause everything from small to big problems, such as wrinkles, greying, hair loss, arthritis, heart conditions and memory loss.
Cucumbers also have a detoxifying and cleansing action. That’s because of compounds called cucurbitaceae. They help to support our liver and digestive tract so that toxins and waste are eliminated. With the system clean, we are able to absorb nutrients better and nourish our cells better.
Besides, cucumbers are a great source of silica, an essential mineral for growing strong and shiny hair.
Even from the ayurvedic point of view, cucumbers are beneficial for the hair. It reduces the excess body heat or pitta dosha. As we saw here, high pitta dosha is damaging to hair follicles and cause hair loss.
Tip: Silica is present in the skin of the cucumber, so don’t peel it off.
Flaxseeds are another superb foods for your hair.
They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids called ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid).
These essential fatty acids work as a natural hair conditioner and add lustre and flexibility to hair – so you will have less breakage. They also nourish your hair follicles and moisturise your scalp skin. Dry, flaky scalp is often attributed to lack of omega-3 in the diet.
Flaxseeds contain several B vitamins, and minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium and selenium. All help keep hair strong, healthy and, most importantly, you will find far less hairs in the shower.
Did you know Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant.
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Chicken contains protein. And hair and nails are made of protein. So chicken is good for hair and nails. That was a simple explanation.
But it’s more than just that…
Chicken contains amino acid called cysteine
Why is cysteine important for hair?
As you know, our hair is composed of a protein called keratin.
And the keratin itself is built largely by cysteine. Cysteine molecules are joined together in a strong bond, which gives your hair its structure and strength.
So by eating foods rich in cysteine, you can help make your hair stronger. Cysteine also promotes faster hair growth as well as improves the overall health of hair (and nails).
If you are a vegetarian, there are more sources of cysteine: onion, garlic, dairy, sprouted lentils, wheat germ and oats.
Sweet potato is found in most places of the world. It’s nutritious to eat and will keep your hair in tip-top condition.
Sweet potato contains beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect our skin, including scalp skin, from damage caused by UV rays of the sun. It’s nature’s sunscreen. Some studies have shown that damaged skin on the scalp can result in fewer hair follicles and poor hair quality.
Another benefit of beta carotene is it converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A help in the production of sebum or the natural oils in hair. Sebum acts like a natural conditioner and gives your hair shine, thickness and bounce.
Besides, sweet potato contains many other hair nourishing nutrients such as vitamin C, E magnesium and B vitamins.
Other high-beta-carotene foods: Orange and yellow coloured vegetables like carrot, papaya, pumpkin, mango, spinach and cantaloupe.
When I was growing up, mung beans were a breakfast staple in my house. So my love for this bean is very special.
Mung beans contain plenty of hair-nourishing nutrients such as: protein, B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium and more. You can call it a multivitamin for hair.
Folate, one of the B vitamins, is found in large amounts in these beans. Folate helps prevent premature greying of hair. It also stimulates new growth, giving you a fuller head of hair.
Another important nutrient in mung beans is zinc. Zinc is required for cell regeneration (including hair cells) as well as protein absorption – both functions are essential to the hair growth cycle.
How to eat: you can sprout them and add them to your stir-fries. Or soak them overnight, grind and make a mung dosa.
Almonds are another fab food for hair. They are packed with protein and several other nutrients.
Almonds are one of the best sources of vitamin E, a strong antioxidant that helps prevent damage to hair follicles, reducing shedding and thereby preventing hair thinning.
Almonds also contain minerals such as zinc, magnesium, iron and copper – all support healthy hair growth.
Besides, if you think you are greying too early, eat almonds. They contain catalase, a special enzyme that aids to keep the hair colour pigment intact.
How to eat almonds:
Soak them overnight, throw away the water, rinse and eat. This helps to remove the unwanted anti-nutrients that can cause indigestion or hamper nutrition absorption.
Buying Tip: Always buy organic almonds, which are free from pesticides.
Amla is tonic for hair. It has played a key role in long, thick, beautiful hair of Indian women.
According to ayurveda, amla slows hair loss and greying and promotes strong, healthy, and lustrous hair.
This Indian berry is a powerful antioxidant with richest source of vitamin C. There are several benefits of vitamin C for hair. It helps boost natural collagen production in our body, which is an important component of hair structure. Vitamin C also protects hair from free radicals – it’s accumulation has been linked to hair loss. Plus, vitamin C is necessary for iron absorption.
Buying tip: You can get fresh amla when in season or purchase amla powder, which is said to be equally beneficial, year around.
Okay, that was the list of 7 best foods that can make a big difference in your hair growth. But along with eating these foods, there are few more tips you can follow to enhance the health of your hair.
Starving to lose weight can have harmful effects on your health as well as your hair. Lack of enough fats, protein and nutrients can cause hair loss and wrinkled skin. If you wish to lose weight, eat more vegetables and salads, lentils, nuts and seeds and do moderate exercise.
Sugar is empty calories, meaning it provides no nutritional benefits. Not just that, it uses nutrients in the body to process it, including those you need for growing healthy hair.
Refined carbs such as white bread and naan can have a similar effect as sugar.
Replace refined carbs with whole grains and sugar with fresh fruits.
To ensure you have strong hair, eat a variety of foods including, seasonal vegetables and fruits, beans, lentils (dal), nuts and seeds, whole grains and little meat and fish.
Fats give hair a lustrous shine. If you have dry, brittle hair, or a dry or flaky scalp, it’s a sign that you are lacking in essential fatty acids. All fat is not bad. Fried foods, refined oils and hydrogenated oils are examples of bad fats.
Some examples of good fats are: ghee, butter, nuts (cashew, walnut) and seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin). Also, cold-pressed unrefined oils and avocados are some examples of good fats.
Protein is the building block of the hair structure. Without enough protein, one will experience weak, limp hair growth. Protein deficiency can also result in loss of hair colour. Examples of good quality protein are: lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, peas, edamame, dairy, eggs, fish and meat.
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common causes of thinning or hair loss in otherwise healthy women. Besides, it’s noted that women with alopecia areata have low levels of iron in their blood compared to those without hair loss.
What special foods you eat to keep your hair healthy? How did it benefit your hair? Share in the comment section below!
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