Our hair forms an integral part of how we look and feel- we all want to have a full head of healthy-looking and beautiful locks. The good news is that the condition of our hair can also be a good indication of how healthy our body is from the inside.
A key factor for healthy hair is good nutrition. Healthy hair needs key nutrients including protein, iron, zinc, sulfur, B-vitamins and essential fatty acids. These can be found in food such as red meat, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Hair is 97% protein so it makes sense that protein is essential for healthy hair. The best sources of protein are animal-based like red meat and seafood, but dairy products such as milk and cheese, as well as eggs and beans are also excellent ways to incorporate protein into your diet.
Hair is thickest when you are in your early 20s; after this the number of hairs on the scalp declines as part of the natural aging process. This hair loss is a perfectly normal part of aging. In fact, the average person loses between 100 and 125 hairs every day.
Non-age-related hair loss can be caused by many factors, including hereditary factors, diet, stress, taking certain drugs or medication.
The factors that we can change are nutrition and improving our general health, which can play a big role in the cause and treatment of hair loss.
- If like many women you suffer from anaemia, try adding iron-rich foods to your diet, like red meat and liver, dark, leafy green vegetables and eggs.
- A zinc deficiency, which can be characterized by fine and brittle hair, is known to be improved by eating foods like seeds, nuts, oysters and fish.
- For reducing stress, eat more vitamin-rich foods, concentrating on vitamin C and the B-vitamins to boost immunity. Vitamin B5, also known as pantothetic acid is particularly useful for cell growth and boosting hair condition, and royal jelly or bee pollen is an excellent source of this nutrient.
- Changes in hormone levels, such as pregnancy and the menopause can temporarily cause hair loss, but this usually alleviates itself when the hormones settle done.
To improve the condition of your hair:
- Drink plenty of water. Water not only re-hydrates your body, it nourishes your scalp and follicles, and feeds the hair with vital nutrients.
- Increase your intake of essential fatty acids, including nuts, seeds and good quality olive oil and nut oils for cooking and salads.
- Sulfur is an important mineral for glossy, smooth hair. It is found in vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
- Silica is a trace mineral found in hair, as well as in skin and nails. It has been associated with slowing the rate of graying. Silica is found in onions, oats, barley and whole wheat products.
Natural Hair Care
Frequent hair-washing is actually damaging to the hair because it strips all of its natural oils and dries out the scalp. This stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more oil to compensate, which in turn lead to greasy hair and more hair washing. When hair is left alone it reaches a point of homeostasis where it is protected by its natural oils. I don’t know how far I would take this, but I thought it was worth mentioning!
Another point worth mentioning is that most mainstream haircare products contain harsh and harmful chemicals which temporarily provide solutions for looking after our hair, but with nasty long-term side effects.
The alternative is to use ‘organic’ shampoos, but these can be quite costly for frequent use. Why not try making your own personal care products from natural ingredients found in your store cupboard at home- that way you know exactly what you are putting on your body, and won’t break the bank.
Some tried-and-tested suggestions are coconut oil- massage it onto your hair and scalp before washing it to give dry hair an intensive treatment. Coconut oil also makes a great hair conditioner, although it can leave your hair looking greasy and heavy. Shea butter is another great hair conditioner which doesn’t leave a greasy residue- try smoothing it onto dry hair to calm frizz.