They say that eyes are the window to the soul, if this is the case hair is a picture of how we are doing on the inside. Our hair has a tough time, taking the brunt of our everyday living; stress, pollution, sun damage and that’s without all the treatments we put in it; coloring chemicals, hair strengtheners, hair dryers, sprays and gels.
The great news is that you can forget buying all those expensive shampoos because they will have little impact if you’re not nourishing your body from the inside out – so instead of spending money on products, get down to your local fruit and vegetable store instead!
Just like our body your hair needs a balanced, nutritious diet to stay healthy. Hair is made from a structural protein called keratin hence a diet rich in protein will provide the building blocks for the body’s growth and repair. Foods rich in protein are eggs, meat, fish, poultry, nuts/seeds and pulses. These foods also contain iron which can impact greatly on our hair health particularly its thickness, however to ensure absorption of this mineral always consume these foods alongside foods rich in vitamin C which are primarily our fruit and vegetables particularly the green leafy kind! Vitamin C will not only support your iron absorption it will help to combat the affects of stressors in our lives which in turn impacts on our hair.
Similar to our skin, which we discussed previously, our hair needs water which supports its health and shine. Hydration therefore is important and 1.5 liters of filtered water should be taken daily. Dry hair is a common problem especially as the weather changes and the heating is turned on. Essential fatty acids are contained in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and nuts/seeds have been shown to support dry hair as will vitamin A particularly beta carotene as contained within sweet potatoes, carrots and butternut squash.
Hair loss can be a problem for many of us often as a result of stress, pregnancy, illness, nutritional deficiencies or ageing. The first line of support here should be zinc, vitamin A, essential fatty acids and iron. Zinc which we have not discussed yet is a powerful antioxidant supporting our bodies through illness and stress. This nutrient is found in nuts and seeds and other protein foods like meat, fish and poultry. Other nutrients which play their role are vitamin E which has been shown to increase circulation to the scalp and improve growth, as found in avocados, nuts, brown rice and dark greens. B Vitamins also promotes hair growth good food sources include brown rice, oatmeal, lentils and eggs.
Total Nutrition’s top tips to beautiful, healthy looking hair:
• A diet rich in quality protein ensuring you have protein with every meal and snack.
• 1.5 litres of filtered water daily.
• Exercise is great as encouraging blood flow to all parts of the body including the scalp.
• A diet rich in fruit (3 portions a day), vegetables (7 portions a day), whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, pulses, meat and poultry.
By Andrea Murray of Total Nutrition, BSc (Hons) Nutrition Therapy