Just like the rest of the body, our hair undergoes a change as you grow older.
Our hair is mainly composed of a protein named keratin, with an inner layer that consists of melanin, which gives the hair its natural color. We have an outer layer known as cuticle, which protects the hair from any damage.
Common Causes Of Unhealthy Hair
The hair cycle has three phases — rest, shed, and grow – which tends to slow down as we age. The average hair growth per month is 1cm. The speed of hair growth is dependent on various factors such as genetics, age, and hormone level.
Hair growth might also be affected by zinc deficiency, protein deficiency, anemia, and hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy, menopause, thyroid, or the polycystic ovary syndrome.
Healthy Diet For Healthy Hair
We, as nutritionists, recommend a healthy and balanced diet as the first line of defense.
If you wish to treat hair fall and need lovely, shiny hair, you should start treating your body from within. Much like that of your skin, the condition of your hair is an outward sign of your inside health.
[pullquote]A correct balance of vitamins and minerals is necessary to keep your hair shiny, lustrous, and strong.[/pullquote]
The cells that make up your hair strands require a supply of key nutrients. So watch out for what you put on your plate as your hair can be a great indicator of your overall health.
1. Get More Proteins
[pullquote]A low-protein diet can make the hair brittle and dull.[/pullquote]
Proteins are one of the most important nutrients for the hair, since your hair is made up of proteins. The special protein keratin present in the hair is required for strength and flexibility.
The suggested foods are salmon, egg whites, chicken, soy protein, and dairy products like milk and yogurt, coupled with nuts and legumes.
2. Don’t Go No-Carb
[pullquote]Make sure you include a good amount of complex carbs in your diet.[/pullquote]
Just like proteins, carbohydrates can be your best friends too. Very less carbs or a no-carbs diet can also affect you hair, leading to dullness and hair loss, and the effects can be seen in three months.
The suggested foods are complex-carbohydrate foods such as whole-grain bread, brown rice, oats, whole-wheat pasta, and cereals like sugar-free muesli.
3. Set Your Iron Levels Right
Iron is a particularly important nutrient for your hair. A diet rich in iron is usually enough to keep your iron stores replenished.
[pullquote]Iron deficiency can affect the hair growth cycle and result in shedding.[/pullquote]
Iron content below the required level can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which can lead to hair loss as the hair follicles are fed by the nutrient-rich blood supply.
The suggested foods are green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, salad greens, broccoli and fish, egg whites, and chicken
4. Hike Up Omega-3 Fats
[pullquote]Don’t cut too much of fat from the diet since it is essential to have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.[/pullquote]
Though our diet is known to be very rich in fats, it is often very low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health. Omega-3 fats are found in cell membranes in the skin of your scalp and in the oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.
The suggested foods are flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, green leafy vegetables, legumes, and fish such as salmon and tuna.
5. Vitamins Are Vital
Vitamins and minerals are very important for healthy-looking hair. Crash diets, which are known to lack essential vitamins and minerals, can harm your hair drastically and lead to hair loss.
This is essential for the absorption of iron and is vital for good hair. It is known to be an antioxidant and so is used readily by the body. It also helps in the production of collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair shafts.
The suggested foods are black currants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi, oranges, papaya, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.
[pullquote]If sebum is absent, you might experience a dry and itchy scalp.[/pullquote]
Vitamin A is needed by the body to make sebum, which is an oily substance created by our hair’s sebaceous glands. It provides a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp and prevents it from becoming dry.
The suggested foods are sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and green leafy vegetables — great sources of beta carotene.
The sun is known to damage our hair just like it can damage our skin. The suggested foods are nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and almonds.
Biotin is an important B-complex vitamin particularly essential for hair health. Too little biotin can lead to brittle hair and, at times, hair loss.
The suggested foods are whole grains, egg whites, yogurt, kidney beans, and chicken.
6. So Are Minerals
Zinc And Selenium
Zinc and selenium are essential trace elements required for the protection of our scalp. Lack of zinc can lead to hair loss and a dry flaky scalp. Zinc is also important for cell growth.
The suggested foods are cereals, whole grains, kidney beans, and egg whites.
7. Get A Balanced Diet, Not Supplements
We have various supplements available for hair, but it’s best to get all your nutrients from the food that you eat every day. A varied balanced diet is the one that contains all the food groups and vitamins and minerals necessary for good healthy hair.
Include a mix of lean protein, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy in order to live a healthy life.