How a Nutrient Dense Diet can Support Thick, Healthy Hair.
Modern-day hair styling, pollution, diets deficient in specific vitamins and minerals all affect our hair's health. While quality hair products and regular organic hair oil treatments can most certainly improve the health of your scalp and hair, the secret to long-term healthy hair is supporting good quality products with a diet that incorporates all the right nutrients.
Learn how to eat your way to glossier locks by incorporating these accessible foods into your gorgeously healthy hair-health routine. Chances are, you'll also see your skin, nails and overall mood benefit too - so it is win-win all round!
The vitamins and minerals you want to incorporate via a wholefoods diet for hair and scalp health:
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in the cell membranes of the scalp and makes up about 3% of the hair's shaft. So, naturally, a diet rich in omega-3 foods is essential. Keep in mind that your body can not produce omega-3 itself, so try to incorporate:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel
- Nuts and seeds - chia seeds are one of my personal favourites as they are abundant in omega-3s and easy to throw in smoothies or make a batch of delicious chia seed puddings ready to grab from the fridge
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and hemp seed oil)
- Seaweed and Algae are important sources for vegetarians
Also known as vitamin H, biotin is one of the B complex vitamins. Your body needs biotin to help convert certain nutrients into energy. If you aren't getting enough, you may experience hair loss or a scaly red rash. Because biotin is water-soluble, your body can't store it. However, there are lots of foods you can eat to ensure you are getting enough. Try to incorporate regularly:
- Eggs (particularly yolks)
- Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts and all pure, genuinely natural nut butter (not the sugar-loaded commercial stuff!)
- Soybeans and other legumes
- Mushrooms contain biotin to help to protect them from parasites and predators as they grow. You can saute them, but if you can eat them raw in a salad, it is even better.
- Spinach contains one of the highest biotin levels among the leafy green vegetables. Why not make a spinach and mushroom salad?
Folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9 or Folate, is primarily responsible for healthy cell growth. Of course, these are located inside your skin tissues as well as in your hair and nails. So, it goes to follow that a diet lacking folate could induce weak hair growth, and it may even trigger hair loss. Interestingly, one small study in 2017 on 52 adults with premature greying found deficiencies in folic acid. Foods to increase your folic acid intake:
- Oysters - Oysters are one of the most potent beauty-boosters on the planet. But it isn't just folic acid your hair will benefit from when you eat oysters. Iron and zinc are also found in abundance and help strengthen hair follicles.
- Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits
- Whole-grain and fortified-grain products
- Beans and lentils also contain folic acid
Lysine is one of the essential amino acids in humans, and a building block for your body and foods rich in it may help promote hair growth. L-lysine is a form of lysine your body can use is also present in the hair's root.
An L-lysine deficiency can cause hair loss (read this study which cites lack of l-lysine as a factor in hair loss). Getting enough of this amino acid may help prevent this issue and promote healthy hair growth. Foods to incorporate include:
- Meat - specifically red meat, pork, and poultry
- Spirulina, a type of algae that is sold in tablet or powder form
Protein & Iron:
Getting enough iron and protein is crucial for your hair to be strong and healthy. If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair is likely to become dry, brittle and weak. Like-wise, when hair follicles grow, they require a lot of iron. Most of the foods listed above should ensure that your diet is covering your protein and iron bases.
Now for the fun bit - Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is full of flavonols - antioxidants which increase blood flow to protect hair and skin from free radicals and UV damage. But that is not all. Copper, zinc and iron are minerals that promote the cell renewal growth process, and dark chocolate happens to be full of them. As the link in the first line shares, there are studies that also prove its benefits for the brain and an encourage positive effects on your mood. Don't overdo it though - just a small square after dinner is all you need!
For a healthier version of a rich chocolate treat, try whipping up this raw chocolate slice which is a favourite in our household. You need to:
Blend the following in a food processor:
- 1 Cup of Organic Cacao Powder
- 1 Cup of REAL Maple Syrup (check the label and ensure it is pure and authentic Maple Syrup)
- 1 Cup of Organic Coconut Oil (sit the jar in some hot water to melt if it is solid)
Once you've blended the above in a food processor, add 2-3 handfuls of healthy, nutrient rich nuts and seeds. I use what I have on hand, but a typical slice in our kitchen will have a mix of:
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Organic Sultanas
- Sometimes I'll add a gluten free bulker such as Buckini.
Put it all in a tray and place in the freezer for an hour. You can now slice it into small pieces and put in an airtight container. However, be sure to keep it in the freezer so it doesn't melt and eat from there. Enjoy!
The thing that really stands out is, just as we see with skin and mental wellbeing, it seems there is no getting away from the fact that a diet rich in fresh, real food is the key to radiating health and wellness - from your skin, to your nails and even your hair!
Remember, if you've noticed any significant changes such as dramatic hair loss, you should speak with your doctor as the first point of call to ensure there isn't an underlying condition.
As with all blogs on this website, this information is not intended to replace medical advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials.