Eat Your Way to Healthier Hair: 7 Common Foods to Consider
Get Healthy, Luscious Hair!
Got hair? That may sound like wimpy take on the “Got Milk” commercial but the lack of hair can be a source of concern for many. Luscious, sleek, healthy hair is desirable—just ask somebody, anybody. While some men can actually rock the bald look---scant, dry and thinning hair is best kept at bay. As far away as possible. But what if you’ve thinning hair? Or your hair is scant and dull? Now, what could be the problem? There are some factors that may contribute to thinning or unhealthy hair—hereditary, the natural aging process, certain medical conditions, taking certain medications, even stress, hormonal changes and poor nutrition. Some you can’t change, for example, your genetic make-up or the aging process but some you can like stress and nutrition. So, the good news is even though you can’t play with what dealt out to you, you can play with what’s in your hands—and nutrition falls in that category.
Simply put, it means you can eat your way to healthier hair. Now, that’s highly doable since most of us (regular people like me) love to eat. And if you pick the right kinds of foods, the kinds that deliver hair-nourishing, hair-nurturing, hair-enabling nutrients, you’re doing all you can to encourage healthier, stronger hair.
Healthy hair is only possible if the hair follicles are healthy and nourished. Certain nutrients, vitamins or minerals in food can help in the hair effort. On the whole, eating a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, fatty fish and low-fat diary can keep hair healthy, according to Joy Bauer, a nutritionist.
Broad categories are guidelines, what about specific foods? Here’s some top picks:
Salmon is quite a nutritional workhorse already—it lowers risks of cardiovascular diseases, bad cholesterol levels and helps to boost brain power, generate better skin and now…healthier hair. The case rests on its rich omega-3 fatty acids. Lack of this important essential fatty acid can result in dry scalp and ultimately dry dull hair. A healthy nourished scalp can only produce healthy hair, so be sure to include salmon in your diet.
It’s not difficult to eat salmon—grill, broil, bake, pan-fry, sauté, or poach—have it your way and know that your hair will love you for this.
Enjoy a variety of nuts--a handful goes a long way.
Going nuts is quite the way to go with hair health. Maybe, that’s why squirrels have such bushy tail (of course, not scientific—just my observation). But science shows that nuts are high in essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids (benefit listed above) and zinc. Zinc deficiency may lead to hair shedding. Cashews, pecans and almonds have high zinc content. Brazil nuts (my favorite nut) have high levels of selenium, another important hair-nourishing mineral. For the sake of your hair, go nuts.
If hair is made up of hardened protein (keratin), it goes to say that eating foods high in protein will help the production of hair. Conversely, inadequate consumption of protein will result in soft, brittle hair. Not a pretty thought? Enjoy lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey, beef and if you’re a vegetarian, tofu and beans. These protein sources also deliver other hair nutrients—iron and zinc. Iron delivers oxygen to hair follicles, fueling them for healthy hair growth. Zinc helps to maintain healthy oil glands.
One notable, often maligned for its high cholesterol, is the incredible egg. Recent research shows that the often misunderstood egg is the best protein source. It also contains biotin and vitamin B-12, both important hair minerals.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are viable sources of vitamin A, C, K, foliate, iron and calcium. Vitamin A, C and K are needed to produce sebum—hair’s natural conditioner. Further, vitamin C increases the uptake of iron. As for vitamin A, it promotes healthy scalp. Iron and calcium also pull their own weight when it comes to hair health.
Spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, mustard green, bak choy, broccoli, arugula and kale—take your pick. Research shows that if you eat these greens with a little oil (think olive oil, canola), it will help the body absorbs the nutrients better.
How to Eat Oysters
Oyster is often the poster boy for zinc, since it boasts high level of zinc, more than high–protein foods. In fact, six medium-sized oysters can supply about 513% of the recommended daily intake of zinc. But how many people eat oysters on a daily, even weekly basis? So, if you’re looking to make sure you’ve enough zinc intake, consider nuts, whole grains, legumes and yeast—all rich sources of zinc, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. As noted, zinc helps to promote healthy oil gland and prevent hair loss.
- Whole Grains
Whole grains is getting a lot of applause—from fighting cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, certain cancers to preventing weight gain—the applause keeps getting louder with various studies. Is it praise-worthy? The answer is yes—whole grains has a whole arena of phytonutrients including B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc. B vitamins create red blood cells and they help to supply oxygen to hair follicles.
Enjoy a variety of whole grains; wild rice, oatmeal, brown rice, barley, quinoa, black rice, red rice, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and popcorn.
Anatomy of a Whole Grain
Onion and Garlic
These culinary multi-taskers, useful in spicing up a dish or enhancing flavor, are rich in sulfur. They are members of the allium genus which also include leeks, shallots and chives. You may have heard of people taking MSM (methylslfonylmethance), a form of sulfur used in supplements to help hair growth or to treat joint pain or inflammation. Sulfur plays an important part in the formation and repair of connective tissue, hence its part in promoting healthy bone, hair and nails. In addition, sulfur promotes cardiovascular health, tames inflammation, lower cholesterol and prevents blood clot
The alium family doesn’t hold exclusive rights to sulfur—other sources include cruciferous veggies, red meat, poultry, fish and legumes.
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