Every one of us love to have a thick, bouncy and lustrous hair, isn’t it? But, how many of us really know that expensive shampoos and conditioners have nothing to do with our hair health? Like your skin, your hair reflects your body’s nutritional status. A good nutrition gives healthy hair, whereas, dull, brittle and thin hair echoes your body’s poor nutritional status.
KNOW ABOUT YOUR HAIR
Hair follicles are present all over the body and are highly concentrated in the head. Each person has a constant number of hair follicles and the number doesn’t increase after birth, even with your expensive hair care treatments. The hair follicles on your scalp are like little pockets from where the strands of hairs grow. Each follicle requires constant supply of oxygen, nutrients and moisture to grow properly. Also, good blood circulation in and around is vital. Another important factor: sebaceous glands. Each hair follicle is associated with sebaceous glands that produce sebum, a natural oil that protects the hair and the scalp. Sometimes, excess sebum accumulates on the scalp and clog the follicles, which results in hair loss.
NUTRITIONAL STRATEGIES FOR HEALTHY HAIR
Healthy hair makes up two things: 1. Healthy scalp with hair follicles 2. A good supply of nutrients to build strong, shiny hair strands. A balanced proportion of good quality protein, healthy fats, essential vitamins and minerals and clean water are vital for a healthy scalp and strong hair.
Proteins: Around 97% of the hair is made up of proteins. These building blocks are essential to maintain the texture of your hair. When your protein intake is less, your body cannot make new and healthy hair to replace the shed ones. Dull, thin, brittle and weak hair shows up with insufficient protein intake. Make sure you eat good quality proteins from a variety of sources to get the hair-protective amino acids into your body. Best sources of protein are salmon, yoghurt, walnuts and oysters. Lamb, beef, eggs, nuts and seeds, soy beans, tofu, fish, shellfish, chicken, dairy products and lentils are also good sources.
Healthy fats: Around 3% of your hair is made up of fats- of which essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids holds much more significance. These healthy fats are needed to maintain the integrity of cell membranes present in the scalp and also for the proper production of sebum. Lacking these essential fats in your diet can cause eczema and dermatitis that probably affects your scalp causing dandruff, slowing hair growth and making your hair dry and brittle. Salmon, walnuts, spinach are top sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources include: flax seeds, soya beans, pumpkin seeds and fishes like mackeral, herring and sardines. Fish oil and/or algae oil supplement (for vegans and vegetarians) can also be taken for omega-3 fatty acid.
Fibre: Two major problems that hinder hair growth are lack of nutrients arising due to improper absorption in the intestines and toxin build-up in the body. Firstly, dietary fibre moves through the intestine at a slower pace, which picks up any undigested food on the way and hence improves absorption. Secondly, fibre helps eliminate toxins that build up in the gut. Vegetables (green leafy and cruciferous veggies), fruits, whole grains and millets, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds will offer a considerable amount of fibre each day to not only help you with hair growth but also to stay slim.
Water: Never undervalue the power of water. Every hair follicle and every cell in your scalp needs water. Water helps transport amino acids, vitamins and minerals to your scalp. In addition, water also helps flush out toxins from your body. Aim for at least 2 to 3 litres of water every day.
Vitamins: Vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C and vitamin E are vital for the nourishment of the scalp and hair shafts.
|Vitamins||Roles in hair growth and/or deficiency||Food sources|
|Vitamin A or beta- carotene||
Maintains growth and health of cells in the scalp and hair
|Carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, kiwi, pumpkin, mangoes, yoghurt, salmon|
|Vitamin B- complex||
Boost circulation to the scalp
Prevent hair loss
Helps synthesise keratin
|Whole grains, eggs, dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, lentils, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, salmon, oysters|
Maintains circulation to the scalp
Deficiency- hair breakage
|Guava, amla, citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli|
Protects scalp’s natural oil
Improved scalp circulation
|Walnuts, wheat germ, sunflower and safflower oils, almonds, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, spinach, kiwi, avocados|
Minerals: Iron, zinc, copper, selenium, sulphur, and copper in trace amounts are very crucial for a healthy lustrous-looking hair. These minerals play many roles from helping your hair grow to maintain its colour and texture. Of all the minerals, iron and zinc are very important for healthy hair. Iron ensures proper blood circulation to the scalp, whereas zinc protects against free radical damage in the scalp. Iron is of two types: haem and non-haem iron. Haem iron can be absorbed easily and is present in organ meats (liver), fish, chicken, beef, oysters and clams. Non-haem iron are difficult to absorb but you can enhance its absorption by combining it with vitamin C. Sources are green leafy vegetables, soybeans, lentils, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds. Zinc deficiency can make your scalp dry and flaky and can lead to tremendous hair fall. Meat, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy, eggs and whole grains are rich in zinc. Above all, it is integral to consume a variety of whole and natural foods to get your daily dose of vital minerals into your body.
HOW HAIR LOSS OCCURS?
Hair loss occurs for many reasons. Number one reason can be your age and genetics. Secondly, hormonal shifts happening during pregnancy and lactation can bring hair fall at an alarming levels, which is absolutely normal. Apart from these other contributors of hair loss are:
HOW DO YOU COUNTERACT HAIR LOSS THROUGH A BEAUTY DIET?
LIFESTYLE CHANGES FOR LUXURIOUS HAIR