Okay, I’m pretty sure everyone has heard such sayings as “you are what you eat” and “what you put on the inside shows on the outside”. Well, for a vast majority of people, eating and drinking habits play a huge role in the overall health of the hair. Nonetheless, there are those people who eat fries and burgers all day and still have nice looking hairs, but they are in the minority; but note that such eating habits are bound to catch up with them at some point anyway. I know for a fact, that when I improved my diet and started eating healthier, the quality of my hair improved significantly – my hair felt stronger, it grew aster and it got thicker. Of course, even with the healthiest diet, you still need to take care of your hair to see results, so don’t neglect that side of things, just remember that what’s on the inside definitely matters.
It is important to note that hair is not essential for life, it’s pretty much an added bonus – if someone shaved off all your hair, you may be pretty angry but, you would still be alive and well. In terms of nutrients, the hair gets them last – this means that if you’re not getting enough of those important nutrients, your organs will use up the good stuff first and there will be nothing left to keep your hair healthy. Basically, you really need to eat right for your hair to reap the benefits of what you’re eating.
For starters, we should always eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water too. Having established this, I will go a little deeper and give you 5 things you definitely shouldn’t skip when it comes to achieving your healthiest hair.
Protein is essential for a healthy and strong hair. Essentially, our hair is made up of a protein called keratin. So, if you’re not eating protein, it’s pretty hard for your hair to stay healthy and it is highly likely that your hair will be weak and brittle. Choose fish, beef, chicken, beans as excellent sources of protein along with vegetarian sources such as legumes and nuts. The best part is, no matter what your diet is like (from pescatarian to vegan to vegetarian to meat eater), there are so many sources of protein so eat up!
2.Dark leafy greens
Another essential nutrient for a healthy hair is iron. A lack of iron can lead to extreme hair loss and breakage and can even go as far as causing bald spots. And to step away from hair for a second, a lack of iron can also cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness and fainting. Dark leafy greens are full of iron other excellent sources of iron include spinach, kale, chard and bitter leaf. Of course, you can also get iron from other sources such as red meat or even iron supplements (consult your doctor before using iron supplements) but dark leafy greens have so many health benefits that skipping them out completely is a big no no! They contain important nutrients, such as vitamin C (more on that later), folate and fibre.
Bonus tip: if you really can’t stand the taste, throw them in a blender with some fruit and make yourself a healthy green smoothie that tastes good!
Now this is pretty much a no brainer. We all know how essential water is for the body – let alone the skin and the hair. It flushes the body of any nasties, hydrates (obviously!) and it can even help you lose weight if that’s your goal. The same way you moisturise and hydrate your body from the outside, you should hydrate your body from the inside too. The amount of water you need depends on several factors such as lifestyle, age, weight, height etc. But it is typically recommended that adults drink 8 glasses of water daily. I am a huge water fanatic so I drink a minimum of 3 litres (about 0.8 gallons) of water a day and more on a hot day or when I exercise.
Bonus tip: you can mix it up by drinking herbal teas (e.g. green tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea) or adding lemon or lime to your water if you find plain water too boring.
4. Vitamin C
We ALL know how essential vitamin C is for our overall health, particularly when it comes to strengthening our immune systems! Vitamin C is so important for many reasons – for example, it is an antioxidant that helps regenerate other antioxidants in the body. We’ve all been told to take vitamin C when we come down with a cold or the flu. But what a lot people don’t know is that vitamin C is also very important for hair health. Basically, healthy body = healthy hair and scalp. It is one of the vitamins that keeps the hair strong and healthy. It prevents your hair from getting dry and splitting and also enhances hair growth.
5. Omega 3 fatty acids
I know the word ‘fat’ always freaks people out when it comes to food but the fact of the matter is that, it is an essential part of a balanced and healthy diet. The important part, is making sure you are eating the right kinds of fat. For example, fried chicken is bad fat, avocados are good fat. Other great sources of healthy fat include salmon, nuts and seeds. Healthy fats are amazing when it comes to hair growth and health, particularly when it comes to having that healthy, glossy hair a lot of us crave. These fatty acids reduce scalp inflammation, promote hair growth, help to increase hair strength and thickness and prevent scalp dryness.
There we have it guys! Of course, there are SO many other things you can include in your diet to see great changes and improvement in your hair but these are just my top 5. And hey, diets/eating habits are not a one size fits all thing – a vegan diet may be incredible for you and horrible for the next person. The important thing is to make sure you are taking a balanced, nourishing diet. Not just for your hair, but for your overall health!
Tara is a hair and skincare blogger living and working in Lagos. She works a 9-5 job whilst building the business she is passionate about, Nature's Locks (a hair and skincare line of products and tools), which started out as a blog, natureslocks.to
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