Have you ever wondered why trees shed leaves before winters? Shedding leaves helps trees to conserve water and energy to survive the harsh winters.
Similarly, our body also sheds hair to survive the nutrition crisis. If we eat too much junk foods, there are little nutrients in our system. And our hair which is the non-essential part– meaning it’s not necessary for our survival– is cut off the vitamins and minerals.
Our body cleverly directs the available nutrients towards the vital areas like brain, heart and other organs. Thus, leaving out hair and nails.
With low nutrients, the hair will grow weaker and thinner over time.
And unlike the trees that grow back their leaves in spring months, your hair will not grow if you continue eating the same junk.
But here’s the good news. Once you get on the healthy eating path, your body will have enough resources (nutrients) to give to the essential as well as the non-essential body parts. So your hair roots will be provided with the necessary vitamins and minerals it needs to grow strong and healthy hair.
What should be on the menu? Here’s a list of 7 superfoods to nourish your hair from the inside out.
(Don’t forget to read bonus tips at the bottom of the page.)
Cucumbers have not received as much fame as other vegetables in terms of health and hair benefits. Cucumbers contain a unique combination of antioxidants which help our body get rid of free radicals. And the faster we 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 better able to absorb nutrients and nourish our cells and tissues, including hair cells.
Besides, cucumbers are a great source of silica, an essential mineral for the health of our hair. Silica strengthens and thickens hair and adds a lovely shine to it.
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 superfoods for your hair.
They are the richest vegetable 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.
Here’s how to eat flax seeds
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Chick chick chicken…is good for hair.
Chicken contains a special type of amino acid called ‘cysteine’ which is vital for healthy hair growth.
Why is cysteine vital 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.
Just for fun: Did you know chickens don’t pee. It’s just mixed into the poop.
Carrots are known to be good for eyes, but carrots also help keep your hair in tip-top condition. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which has many amazing benefits for your hair.
Firstly, it protects your hair from UV-rays, pollutants and free radicals generated due to stress. Secondly, it helps in the production of sebum or your hair’s natural oils. These natural oils will give you soft, shiny, bouncy hair without any need of hair product.
In addition, a cupful of carrot is an excellent source of biotin, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, B6 and fiber.
Other high-beta-carotene foods: The orange and yellow coloured vegetables like sweet potato, 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 them multivitamin for hair.
Folate, one of the B vitamins, is found in large amounts in these beans. It helps to prevent premature greying and also restores luster and vitality of the hair.
Another important nutrient worth mentioning is zinc. Zinc is vital for cell regeneration (including hair cells), and protein absorption and these function are essential to thick, healthy, shiny hair.
How to eat: you can sprout them and add them to your stir-fries. Or soak them overnight and make mung soup.
Almonds not only taste delicious, they also promote healthy hair.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E. This powerful vitamin nourishes the scalp and gives your hair a strong base to grow. Almonds are a good source of biotin. Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about biotin, which is touted as the important vitamin for healthy hair.
Besides, if you think you are greying too early then eat almonds. They contain catalase, a special enzyme that aids to keep our 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 form pesticides.
Amla is amazing. It has been used to grow, thick beautiful hair for centuries.
Whether you eat it or put its juice on your hair, amla will not disappoint you.
The powerful antioxidants and vitamin C in amla rejuvenate hair follicles and reduce hair loss. Amla may be able to stimulate dormant hair follicles and increase the overall thickness and density of your hair.
Buying tip: You can get fresh amla when in season, or you can purchase amla powder, which is said to be equally beneficial, year around.
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Okay, so that was the list of 7 superfoods 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 your hair and health.
If you love and eat fruits and vegetables, you are a star. And if you don’t love and eat your fruits and vegetables, yet, you are 2 steps from becoming a star.
Now, why should you eat fruits and vegetables. Because not only they contain amazing vitamins and minerals, they are also packed with antioxidants. Our body generates free radicals as part of regular metabolism. These free radicals are quickly neutralised by antioxidant enzymes that our body makes as well as the antioxidant-rich foods that we eat.
What happens if these free radicals start building up? Well, they can damage our body tissues and cause ageing and chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and heart condition. Plus, they also cause hair thinning, greying and wrinkles. So don’t give free-radical a chance to build up and eat the veggies and fruits.
I am not saying you give up fries and candies and become a monk. You can follow the 80/20 rule, so eat fresh and healthy 80% of the time and indulge 20% (not the other way).
In general, a diverse diet of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, beans, legumes, dairy, (and some fish and meat) is the key to healthier hair.
If you have dry, brittle hair, or a dry or flaky scalp, it’s a sign that you are low in essential fatty acids. All fat is not bad. Fried foods, refined oils, hydrogenated oils are examples of bad fats.
Again, hair loss or prematurely greying could be due to low vitamin B12. The deficiency is more common in vegans or vegetarians, as b12 is mostly found in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
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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 significantly lower levels of iron in their blood compared to those without hair loss.
Foods rich in iron are: beans and lentils, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, meat and liver.
That’s to get vitamin D which is made in your skin. Vitamin D is another essential vitamin for hair growth, and its deficiency can result in hair loss.
Make sure your arms or legs or both are exposed to the sun as your skin can’t absorb sunlight under the clothes.
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