7 Nutritional Tips for Strong and Healthy Hair

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Each strand of hair is composed of cells that need a regular supply of essential nutrients. With lots of products in the market that claim to improve the look and condition of your hair, it’s easy to forget that best way to keep your hair strong and healthy is to provide them with the proper nutrition through the food you eat. Just as your skin benefits from healthy food, eating well also ensures that your hair gets the key nutrients for growth. Therefore, the best way to get strong and healthy hair is through your stomach.

Listed below are some essential nutrients to assist you to have healthy hair.

1.      Eat Enough Protein:

Each strand of your hair is consists of hardened proteins called keratin. When you are deficient in protein, this vital building block generates slowly, thereby your hairs grow slower and become weaker. Therefore, you must include high protein foods in your diet. Lean meats like chicken and fish should be consumed at lunch and breakfast. However, if you are a vegan, plant-based protein should be included in your meals. Plant-based protein sources are legumes, beans, nuts, tofu, seitan, and quinoa.

2.      Hydrate:

It’s recommended to drink eight glasses of water every day (1). Increase this amount depending on your climate and activity level. Your body shows signs if it’s dehydrated. Don’t ignore them and don’t confuse your thirst with your hunger. Your scalp becomes dehydrated and dry like your skin. 

Hair strands can absorb water. This not only gives you the appearance of fuller, thicker hair, it also promotes hair density by promoting blood circulation and nutrition absorption – both of which are essential for hair growth. Dry hair, on the other hand, shrinks back down. This makes the hair prone to hair damage. To help hair retain moisture and nutrients,  regularly use oil along with water to wash your hair.

3.      Have adequate Iron:

Iron is extremely important for hair growth (2) according to says dermatologist Melissa Piliang, MD of the Cleveland Clinic. Ferritin is the stored iron in your body that promotes hair growth. The iron in your red blood cells provides nourishing oxygen to your hair follicles. Low ferritin levels in your body can lead to slow hair growth and hair loss. You should eat red meat at least twice a week, especially if you are a menstruating lady. Other iron-rich foods are clams, oysters, eggs, tuna, spinach, tofu, and soybeans.

4.      Vitamin C Crush:

Vitamin C is a crucial nutrient that promotes the absorption of iron in your body. Freshly squeezed orange juice, lemon, and other fruits like papaya, strawberries, guava and blueberries are helpful with iron uptake. Vitamin C helps to stimulate the collagen production (3) which strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair follicles.

5.      Be Wary of Dairy:

Although dairy products are a rich source of calcium, they should be consumed sensibly if you are prone to dandruff or eczema. Dairy products can exaggerate or trigger such conditions. Alternatively, you can have skimmed milk or almond milk if necessary.

6.      Take Sufficient Zinc:

Our hair is constantly exposed to the stress of humidity and heat. This can cause damage, such as breakage, thinning, and frizziness. One way to help prevent this damage is to use a leave-in conditioner with zinc or regularly consume zinc-rich foods. Zinc is a mineral that is essential for maintaining hair elasticity and strength (4). A deficiency in zinc can cause thinning hair and a decrease in keratin production, which is responsible for hair strength and elasticity. Oysters, eggs, beef, whole grains, and fortified cereals are a good source of zinc.

7.      Do not Skip Breakfast:

The most important meal of the day for your body and hair is the breakfast. When you wake up, your body has the lowest energy to form hair cells. Eat a nutritious breakfast rich in proteins, vitamins and complex carbohydrates to give a nutritional boost to your hair. 

And a few to avoid

High levels of sugar in your blood have been correlated to more DHT hormone, which shrinks hair follicles. The more sugar you have in your diet, the higher the chances are that you may have damaged hair or deal with thinning hair. And this includes sugar from soft drinks and packaged foods. And alcohol, whether it’s wine, beer or a cocktail, can dehydrate you and lessen the zinc and B vitamin levels in your system, which in turn, can make hair brittle.  And avoid processed flour—the kind uses if grocery store bread and many pasta products. Look for product made from whole wheat or alternative graines.

Don’t wait. The sooner you address the issue with your hair, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage.  And if you are concerned make sure you discuss the topic with your healthcare professional.

(1) Nutrition and healthy eating

(2) Does Iron Deficiency Cause Hair Loss?

(3) Vitamin C and Skin Health

(4) Zinc – Uses, Side Effects, and More

by Cara Lucas

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