We’ve all seen the advertisements, where glossy-haired models seductively swish their shiny locks as they stride towards the camera.
And which one of us hasn’t envied their healthy hair, wishing we too could have what they have?
But while it’s all well and good to invest in expensive conditioners, costly serums and pricey treatments, the food we eat could very well hold the key to a brilliantly barnet.
‘Most of us would love to have full head of thick, shiny hair.’ said Shona Wilkinson, Head Nutritionist at NutriCentre.
‘Patterns of hair growth and loss, as well as condition and quality, are determined partly by our genes.
‘But there are other factors in our lives that can also have a negative effect on hair quality and growth, causing our hair to become weak, dry or lacklustre, or triggering hair loss.
‘These factors can include nutrient deficiencies, stress, hormonal changes, poor circulation, thyroid problems and even over-brushing.
Why it’s good for you: Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega three fats are really good for your hair. Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties. This can help to open the hair follicles which promotes healthy hair growth. One of the signs of lack of Omega 3 is a dry scalp and dull looking hair.
Why it’s good for you: Eating spinach is a great way of getting nutrients into your diet. It contains vitamons B, C and E as well as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and Omega 3 – all of these are required for good healthy hair. The iron content in particular helps the red blood cells carry oxygen to hair follicles which is essential for healthy hair growth.
Why it’s good for you: Lentils are a good source of zinc and biotin which help with good hair health. Theyre also a great source of protein. Protein is an important macro nutrient for the hair. Protein helps with the strengthening of the actual hair strands. A good source of protein in your diet will help with the healthy growth of hair. Try adding lentils to salads and soups for a healthy addition to your diet.
Why it’s good for you: Sweet potatoes are packed full of a nutrient called beta-carotene. Beta carotene is converted by the body into Vitamon A. Vitamin A deficiency often results in dry skin which can affect your scalp and can fall off your scalp as dandruff. For a healthy scalp try incorporating more beta carotene into your diet.
Why it’s good for you: Oysters are a great source of zinc. Zinc is an important antioxidant for the body. Zincs properties help with hair growth as it helps keep the oil glands at the scalp at a helathy level. Deficiencies in zinc can be shown as hair loss in extreme conditions
Why it’s good for you: Some people put raw eggs directly onto their hair to help with hair condition. You can also eat eggs for these benefits. As well as being high in protein, they contain biotin. Biotin is a B vitamin which is essential for scalp health and hair growth.
Why it’s good for you: Mackerel is an oily fish. This means that it is high in omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for healthy hair. If you are a vegetarian you can eat flaxseeds to ensure you get the health benefits of this essential fatty acid.
Why it’s good for you: Walnuts are a source of Biotin amongst other nutrients. Biotin helps strengthen hair, reduce hair loss and improve hair growth. Walnuts are also a good source of vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiency may lead to brittle hair which easily breaks off or snaps. Try eating walnuts as a healthy snack.
Why it’s good for you: Carrots are usually thought of as being good for your eyes but they help your hair as well. Containing vitamin A, these vegetables help you get that shiny well-conditioned look by maintaining the natural oils in the hair and keeping your scalp in tip top condition.
Why it’s good for you: Good quality protein sources are essential for healthy hair. Without adequate protein, or with low quality protein, one can experience weak brittle hair. Deficiency in protein can result in loss of hair colour. Protein also strengthens the hair and increases the bioavailability of iron, which promotes healthy hair growth.
THE DOS AND DONT’S OF AMAZING HAIR: FOUR WAYS TO SHINY LOCKS
Avoid drastic weight loss diets
Very low-calorie diets are a common trigger of hair loss. Low-calorie diets often do not provide enough essential fats and protein, vitamins and minerals to nourish the hair.
If you need to lose weight, it can be far better to choose a healthy eating plan such as a low-GL (low glycaemic load) diet, and make sure you are including protein with every meal and a source of essential fats every day. Taking a multivitamin and mineral can also support your nutrient levels while you are losing weight.
Avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates
Sugar is an ‘anti-nutrient’, meaning it provides no nutritional benefits of its own, and actually uses up nutrients in the body to process it, including those that you need for healthy hair. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, white rice and anything else made with white flour have a similar effect, as they have had all the vital nutrients stripped away from them, and are quickly absorbed and turned into sugar in the blood
. So replace sugary snacks with a piece of fruit and a few nuts, or try some of the protein-rich snacks mentioned above. Ditch the white carbohydrates and go for whole grain alternatives.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for healthy hair.
Keratin, a substance that provides the strength and structure of hair, is a protein, and our body makes it from the proteins that we eat. (Protein is also vital for the health of the thyroid gland – more on this later.) So to ensure you have strong hair, eat a variety of protein-containing foods every day: meat, fish, eggs, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and dairy products are all good examples.
Great ways to get more protein include swapping your morning cereal for scrambled eggs on whole grain toast, adding a handful of nuts or seeds to your porridge, and swapping your usual snacks for a couple of oatcakes with tahini (sesame seed paste) or a natural yoghurt with added pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Don’t skimp on the healthy fats
If you have dry or brittle hair, or a dry or scaly scalp, you could be deficient in essential fatty acids. As most of us know, fat is not all bad, and the essential fats have many vital roles in the body including maintenance of healthy skin, scalp and glossy hair.
Oily fish, raw seeds and nuts, cold-pressed flaxseed oil and avocadoes all supply good levels of healthy fats. Try a mashed avocado with lemon juice and black pepper on a slice of toast for a healthy hair-loving snack.