You are what you eat, and your hair, too, is no exception.
So if your hair is dull, dry and lacks the oomph, then take a closer look at what you are putting into your stomach. Eating a balanced diet feeds your hair with necessary vitamins and minerals to remain strong, healthy and lustrous.
Hair is made of protein called keratin. If you don’t eat enough protein in your diet, your hair will be weaker and it will also grow very slowly. While extremely low protein diets can cause massive hair loss.
To encourage hair growth and strength, make sure you eat a protein rich diet.
The foods to eat: dairy products, beans (mung, azuki, chickpeas, kidney, black eye), lentils or dal, nuts, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat.
Vitamin A is needed to make sebum- your hair’s natural oils or let’s call it hair’s natural conditioner. The natural hair oils will keep your hair and scalp well moisturised, and help you get that shiny prim look. Without these natural oils your scalp will be dry and itchy and your hair dull and lusterless.
For ultimate shine and style, include orange/yellow coloured veggies and fruits.
The foods to eat: Include beta-carotene rich foods (body turns to vitamin A) like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, mangoes, spinach, papaya, apricot, asparagus to your meals.
Iron helps to carry oxygen around the body, and too little iron (anemia) means less oxygen is carried to the cells (including your scalp). The lack of oxygen starves the hair follicles, causing wispy, dry hair. Too little oxygen also affects the normal hair growth cycle and may result in hair loss.
To promote healthy hair growth, include iron rich foods in your diet.
The foods to eat: Lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, red meat.
Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen, that helps our bodies hold everything together. Even the tiny blood vessels, that feed the hair follicles, require collagen to stay healthy. Too little vitamin C in your diet can lead to dry, brittle hair, which is prone to break easily.
Vitamin C also aids the absorption of iron, so paring iron rich food with vitamin C is a good idea.
The foods to eat: citrus fruits, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato, blue berry, strawberry, gooseberry, kiwi fruit, guava and papaya.
Biotin, an important B vitamin, is necessary for healthy hair growth. Because our bodies make their own biotin, deficiency is rare. And it is also plentiful in many common food that we eat.
Eating biotin rich foods can improve hair strength and prevent breakage.
The foods to eat: peanuts, almonds, whole grains, liver, salmon, avocados, cauliflower and cheese.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that keep your scalp and hair moisturised. Plus, they add elasticity to your hair, which means less breakage when stretched. But your body cannot make omega-3 on its own, and therefore it must be obtained through our diet.
Eat omega-3 rich foods for long, smooth, and glossy hair
The foods to eat: Flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, salmon, tuna, kale, brussels sprouts.
Zinc is involved in cell growth and repair, including hair growth. Plus, it also helps maintain the oil secreting glands around the hair follicles. Low levels of zinc can result in weak and thin hair that falls off quicker than they should.
For scalp protection and healthy hair growth, eat zinc rich foods.
The foods to eat: whole grains, cashews, sesame seeds, spinach, pumpkin seeds, lentils (Dal), chickpeas, oysters, red meat.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects our bodies against free radicals – which slow hair growth, cause premature greying, wrinkles and other age related signs.
Antioxidants like vitamin E neutralizes free radicals and keeps you and your hair healthy and vibrant.
The foods to eat: Almonds, sunflower seeds/oil, olive oil, avocado, peanuts, kiwi fruit, spinach, tomatoes, pepper, carrots.
1. Stress affects digestion. So even though you eat healthy, it doesn’t get translated into better health. The solution is to keep stress under control, and that will aid in better digestion and absorption of nutrients. The known stress relievers are – exercise, meditation, spending time with nature, talking with family and friends or one can also seek professional help.
2. Crash diet is not a good idea. It deprives your hair of important nutrients and can lead to dull and lifeless hair. In addition, extreme dieting can also slow hair growth, and may even cause hair loss.
3. In addition to eating nourishing, nutritious foods, be sure you’re cutting out on sugar, fried food, refined food, hydrogenated fats. These blood clogging food can nullify the effects of healthy foods, making it more difficult for the nutrients to get to the hair follicles (the small blood vessels get clogged).
Over and above beautiful and lustrous hair, the other effects of eating healthy are glowing skin, even complexion, more energy and stamina, better memory and concentration and the list goes on.
And do not forget:
Fresh Food and wholesome food = Strong and Healthy hair
Packaged and refined food = dull and limp hair
Photo credit for spinach/carrot image: Wong Mei Teng