You probably choose your shampoo and conditioner carefully, but there’s another element of hair care many of us forget – our diet. Did you know food can make or break your hair health? From deficiencies to inflammatory ingredients, eating the wrong things can strip away our hair’s natural defences. Here are 8 foods that do the opposite!
Graphic by Grace Martin
Blueberries are a powerhouse of antioxidants like vitamin C, and vitamin E, both of which help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals – these can cause oxidative stress, which is a major contributor to hair damage and hair loss. By reducing oxidative stress, blueberries can help promote a healthy environment for hair growth. Vitamin C also helps with the production of collagen, which is a structural protein that helps strengthen hair strands – and not just our hair, but our skin and nails too! Manganese is another essential nutrient found in blueberries which boosts our hair health. Inflammation is another key element of poor hair health – from dry texture to thinning – as an inflamed scalp can disrupt the hair growth cycle. On the plus side. blueberries happen to have anti-inflammatory properties in spades. They improve the transportation of oxygen to the scalp, along with boosting circulation – both of which stimulate hair growth. Toss some on your morning oatmeal or with Greek yoghurt for a nutritious snack!
One of the biggest hair growth boosters of lentils is their folic acid content – this stuff plays a vital role in the hair growth cycle, along with supporting cell and red blood cell renewal. The result? Our scalps can get that much needed circulation and oxygen for healthy growth. Protein is another key element of lentils – and this is significant because hair itself is made of a protein known as keratin. This stuff gives hair its strength and elasticity, so legumes like lentils are especially nourishing for our hair. Zinc and biotin are other nutrients found in lentils which promote hair growth and repair, along with supporting the structure of keratin. Take a look at some of the other beneficial legumes for hair health:
- Mung beans
- Green beans
- Lima beans
- Kidney beans
Spinach is a great food for brittle, dry hair, with its dose of vitamin A, iron, folate and vitamin C to promote healthy growth and moisturisation. Vitamin A is especially beneficial for cell growth and restoration – an essential element of healthy hair. It can also help regulate oil production, which helps to remedy dry hair. It’s also worth noting that the vitamin is converted into retinol in the liver – this form is better absorbed than beta-carotene – and helps to promote hair growth and combat early greying. Take a look at some other veggies and fruits rich in vitamin A:
- Sweet potatoes
Like spinach, you’ll find vitamin A densely packed in sweet potato, along with a good amount of fibre. But how does fibre boost hair health, you ask? Well, as it improves our gut health, promotes regularity and helps balance blood-sugar levels, it has a knock-on effect for our hair. The antioxidants like vitamin C and E also play a massive role in boosting hair growth as they reduce inflammation and promote circulation, both of which are important building blocks for healthy growth cycles.
Eggs are loaded with high-quality protein which our bodies can make quick use of, and as we know, protein is one of the major foundations of healthy hair. Biotin is another nutrient here – this stuff is vital for keratin production and preventing hair loss. Here are a few other beneficial nutrients you’ll find in your humble egg scramble:
- Omega 3
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids for shiny, strong hair, along with biotin and vitamin E. The latter is an antioxidant that helps to protect the scalp and hair follicles from oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which contribute to hair loss and dry hair. You’ll also find hair-boosting nutrients like folic acid, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and manganese in walnuts.
Your humble pumpkin is actually a powerhouse of hair-nourishing nutrients! From the beta-carotene content to its antioxidants, iron and protein, it’s worth adding this delicious veggie to your meals. You might also want to add the seeds too – these guys are loaded with keratin – the building blocks of healthy hair – and healthy fats for soft locks.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are another essential for hair growth, and salmon happens to be loaded with the stuff. Not only do they have anti-inflammatory properties, but they also nourish the hair follicles. Salmon is also rich in protein, which, as we mentioned earlier, plays an important role in supporting the structures of our hair and providing the building blocks for keratin production. You’ll also find biotin here, a nutrient which boosts keratin production – in fact, a biotin deficiency is a known contributor to hair loss, so be sure to include foods rich in this vitamin in your diet. This can include nuts, mushrooms and legumes. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and selenium. Vitamin D helps to improve the health of hair follicles, while vitamin B12 is important for the production of red blood cells, which supply oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps to neutralise inflammatory free radicals and protect the scalp and hair follicles from damage.
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