Eating Your Way To Healthy Hair.

Sometimes we focus so much on what we’re putting on our hair that we forget that great looking hair actually starts from within. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet and drinking a lot of water should be the first step in attaining a healthy, luxurious mane.

Moisturizing our hair shouldn’t start and stop with our moisture based products but should also take into consideration the amount of water we’re ingesting. Drinking lots of water flushes toxins from our bodies and helps keep the hair hydrated from within – properly hydrated hair means less brittle, breakage - prone hair.

I was fascinated to find out that every time we eat, our scalps and our nails are actually the last places in our bodies that nutrients are passed on to during the natural breakdown and distribution process of our digestive system! Therefore if our meals are lacking in abundant nutrients and beneficial minerals; the little nutrients contained in our meals will first be distributed to the vital organs of the body meaning there will be no nutrients left to pass on to the scalp!

Crash diets, starvation diets, latest fad diets do no good to hair either as these diets are often lacking in essential vitamins, fatty acids and other important nutrients which help in keeping hair healthy. For example a key nutrient for healthy scalps is iron as it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles and where there is a lack of iron in our diets, it can lead to hair loss.

To illustrate why eating an iron rich diet is necessary, when our diets are lacking in iron and our bodies need iron to function; the body automatically takes from the iron deposits  in the hair follicles within our scalps, and the longer this goes on, the more our scalps and consequently our hair suffer.

Ensuring that your meals are consistently healthy and nutritious will go a long way in your attainment of healthy strong hair, luminous skin and strong nails. Healthy meals should incorporate a balanced diet of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and low fat dairy products.

1.       Carrots: Bursting with Vitamin A, these vegetables have long been known to aid healthy eyes and clear vision but their health benefits don’t end there. They help maintain the natural oils that our scalps produce and since a healthy scalp is the first step in attaining healthy hair; they are great for encouraging conditioned hair. A lack of Vitamin A can lead to itchy, dandruff prone scalps. Juicing your carrots will not only provide you with a delicious, healthy drink but will afford you a very quick way for the nutrients to be absorbed directly into your blood stream.

2.       Eggs: The key structural component of our hair strands is something called Keratin which is a body of fibrous proteins. Protein is therefore a vital component for building each hair strand. Should your diet be consistently lacking in protein, your hair strands will definitely suffer. Eggs are a great source of Vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, sulfur, iron and Biotin (biotin has been proven to help improve hair growth rates and is sold as supplements either alone or in conjunction with other vitamins) and are therefore a great way for feeding your hair from within.

3.       Dark Green Vegetables: Dark green leafy veggies are not just a great way to healthy bodies but healthy hair because of their high content of beta carotene, iron and calcium. These vegetables also contain Vitamin A and C which are needed by our scalps for the production of sebum (the natural scalp oil) which naturally conditions the hair and scalp. Excellent sources are spinach, broccoli, turnips, kale and bok choy.

4.       Poultry: Yep, eating chicken and turkey aids healthy, lovely looking hair! Chicken and turkey are excellent sources of protein and as we learnt earlier, a lack of protein in our diets can lead to brittle hair which breaks off as our strands are made up of protein which need to be built up from within.

5.       Bananas: Bananas are a rich source of Vitamin B6 – a vitamin which has been shown to aid the production of red blood cells which in turn nurture hair follicles, enhancing the growth of healthy, shiny hair. The presence of Vitamin B6 in our diets helps the absorption of other nutrients from our food while the absence of it contributes to hair thinning and hair loss.

6.     Beans: An important legume for hair as they contain high amounts of iron, zinc and protein. Beans also contain biotin which as earlier mentioned, contributes to the growth of strong, healthy hair. Apart from the regular beans which we are used to, kidney beans and lentils are also great legumes for healthy hair.

7.       Salmon: Hands down, salmon is one of the best (if not the best) nutrient packed food source for healthy hair, skin and bodies. Loaded with essential omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and iron, this oily fish aids healthy scalps, strong hair and luminous skin. Other oily fish varieties such as mackerel are also a beneficial source of healthy fatty acids.  Omega 3 has been shown to slow hair loss.

8.        Nuts: Walnuts, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts all contain loads of zinc, the absence of which has been shown to lead to an increase in hair shedding. Walnuts contain alpha – linolenic acid; an omega 3 fatty acid that helps in conditioning hair from within.

9.       Dairy: Low fat dairy products are a great way to get more nutrients and less calories! Foods like skimmed milk and low fat yoghurt contain calcium which is essential for hair growth; casein and whey which are great protein sources for building the hair shaft from within.

     Wholegrains: Packed with zinc, iron, B vitamins and Vitamin E; wholegrains provide minerals and antioxidants which help promote a healthy scalp and hair.

While we gorge ourselves on all the delicious festive foods available this season, let’s remember to incorporate healthier options into our diets – not just for this period but for the long term; trust me, your body, hair and skin will be the better off for it!

Happy Holidays!

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