Why Diet Matters
Your hair is a reflection of your inner state of health. Beautiful, shiny, strong strands are signs of a healthy, thriving body, which can only exist with a well-balanced diet. Brittle, dull, and thinning hair may be a sign of poor health due to a diet lacking in nutrients or other factors such as stress, exposure to toxins, and disease. While there are of course uncontrollable factors that lead to hair loss, such as age and heredity, eating the right foods can at the very least increase hair health and encourage growth. What are the basics of a healthy diet to prevent hair loss?
Nutrient Sources to Focus On
Which nutritional components are important for promoting new growth? Why are these substances important? What are the best foods to eat to ensure a plentiful and constant supply of these nutrients?
A protein rich diet is essential for healthy hair. Plenty of protein or amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, are needed for the body to form new tissue. While it is easy to consume more than enough protein in a diet high in animal products, it is more efficient to get your protein from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, and legumes. Why? Because they are also rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, and they are easier for the body to utilize.
Plenty of essential fatty acids are crucial for preventing hair loss. Consuming the omega oils, which are found in nuts, seeds, sea greens and
sea food, legumes, and whole grains improve texture and strength, preventing brittle, broken hair.
A diet rich in all vitamins and minerals will support healthy hair growth, but there are some compounds which are particularly essential. Biotin is one of the most important vitamins for preventing hair loss. It is needed for cell growth and is a specific nutrient for hair and skin. Good sources of biotin include brown rice, soy, lentils, and egg yolks. This nutrient also assists with the absorption of the entire B complex of vitamins which are important for new hair growth. Whole grains, eggs, fish, green leafy vegetables, sea greens, nuts, legumes, and brewer's yeast are great sources of B vitamins.
Other important vitamins include vitamins C and E, which both act as protective antioxidants, support the formation of new cells, and increase circulation to the scalp. For vitamin C, seek out fresh fruits and vegetables. For vitamin E, green leafy vegetables and nuts.
The most important minerals to prevent hair loss include iodine to support thyroid function, potassium for the transfer of nutrients through cell membranes, and silica and sulfur for new tissue formation. Sea greens and sea food are high in iodine and potassium. Oats, brown rice, beets, soy, and green vegetables are rich in silica. Cabbage, eggs, garlic, onions, and fish are high in sulfur.
What to Avoid
While eating a nutrient-rich diet will encourage new growth and improve the well-being of your hair it is also important to avoid or minimize substances that will slow digestion, inhibit nutrient absorption, and put extra work on the liver. Sugar, white flour products, salt, excess animal fat, refined and processed foods should be consumed in small quantities to help prevent hair loss.
Eating Tips for Healthy Hair
There are so many nutrients that are necessary for encouraging hair growth, so many foods that are helpful, and even many foods that need to be avoided. While it may at first seem that eating a diet to prevent hair loss is a lot of work, there are essentially a few simple tips that can help you eat well for healthy hair.
- You can never eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables
- Consume sea greens and sea food on a regular basis
- Snack on unsalted nuts and seeds
- Choose soy and beans (plant protein) over animal products as much as is comfortable for you
- Switch from white flour products to whole grains
- Drink six to eight glasses of water a day
Following these simple tips you will get the nutrition that you need to support healthy hair. What you eat is in your control, so is the well-being of your hair.
Balch, Phyllis, CNC. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition." (The Penguin Group, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
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