Who should you blame for your hair being dry, dull and brittle? You are probably cursing your damaging hair dye, the ruthless hairdryer, the bad shampoo or your poor genes. But actually, the problem might lie in what you eat. And in what you don’t eat!
It’s simple logic actually. As much as we appreciate our luscious hair, our body doesn't really consider it a vital organ. And when your body is spreading nutrients around, hair is one of the last to be considered. Depending on how well we eat, some of the nutrients might be left over for the hair cells and in the worst case, they will have to make do with an “empty plate”. The longer the starvation, the more vitality the hair loses.
Your hair needs a wholesome cocktail of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins.
The following are especially important!
- The main structural material making up hair is keratin. To produce keratin, your body needs proteins. The gym enthusiasts among us know it, of course, but let’s just repeat it once again: protein-packed foods are dairy products, turkey and eggs, for example.
For a vegetarian or a vegan, walnuts, almonds and various bean varieties are a good source of proteins. To produce keratin, the body needs vitamin C, so don't forget about citrus fruits, berries and different lettuce varieties or spinach.
- Iron is another element that is an essential nutrient for hair. Iron deficiency can often be the reason behind hair loss. Hair follicles and roots are powered by oxygen-rich blood. If your iron level is low, you may develop anaemia. The supply of nutrients to the hair follicle and the growth cycle of the follicle will be disrupted and the hair might fall out.
You can keep your iron intake up by eating red meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarians and vegans should eat lentils, broccoli, spinach and all other types of green salads, and kale. Keep in mind that the body needs vitamin C for iron absorption.
- Another reason for brittle and falling out hair could be the low biotin level in your body. Biotin is water-soluble vitamin B. If you suspect the lack of biotin in your food could be causing the poor condition of your hair, you should eat liver, egg yolks, various nuts, soybeans, bananas, cauliflower and mushrooms.
Don’t do this to your hair
If you are one to pay a lot of attention to your looks, you are obviously no stranger to dieting. However, the working principle of quite a few diets is that you need to consume certain food groups in a restricted amount (e.g. the Atkins diet) or straight-out starve yourself. Dieting may be effective when it comes to body weight – even though this is often short-term only – but for your hair, experimenting like this can be devastating.
What else should you avoid?
- The excessive consumption of alcohol is also bad for your hair. Alcohol lowers the zinc level in the blood but zinc is an important nutrient for hair.
- Sounds like a cliché, but greasy fast food really is bad for your hair as well. When you eat greasy food, the scalp starts producing more sebum, which clogs the pores. Clogged pores may cause hair loss.
- Sugar is also evil when it comes to hair, as it prevents an essential structural material, protein, from being absorbed.
- Diet sodas contain no sugar but do contain plenty of sweeteners – and links have been discovered between hair loss and sweeteners.
You are eating right, but are still struggling with your hair?
Your body is in good health only if you drink plenty of water in addition to a balanced diet. And don’t forget about it in the winter season, either – the heated indoor air makes the skin and hair drier than usual.
If your menu is balanced and you are eating all the food groups, you should not be at risk for a deficiency of any of the elements. And in that case, the problem lies somewhere else. Just in case, you might want to visit your doctor for thorough check-up, if necessary.