On average, hair grows .3 – .5 mm per day, 1.25 centimetres or 0.5 inches per month, and 15 centimetres or 6 inches per year. How fast hair grows depends on factors such as age, genetics and diet. Hair is mostly made up of keratin, which can also be found on the outer layer of our skin and nails. In a real way then you literally are what you eat. As with our general health, our diet is a crucial aspect of our well-being. So, what are the best and worst foods for your hair?
When hair looks limp, dull and lifeless, people often turn to the simplest solution to the problem. This often means changing shampoo brand to one with added body and conditioning properties. Even if this helps, it is superficial and short-lived. The real concern can be a poor diet causing the hair to appear lifeless and weak, resulting in conditions such as split ends.
Maintain naturally healthy hair
Unlike factors such as age and genetics that cannot be changed, you can change and control your diet. We know that consuming a diet lacking in the right nutrients can lead to poor hair quality and ultimately to hair loss. We also know that having a balanced diet can help promote healthier hair growth. An improvement in diet can be seen directly in a positive change in hair quality.
Eating nutrient-rich foods has been scientifically proven to help your hair. It is very possible with our actions to influence our hairs thickness or how shiny it is. The phrase “having a bad hair day” often reflects how we have mistreated or abused our body; often after a good night out or frequently burning the candle at both ends. Keep this in mind when your hair is limp and lifeless as it’s often a mirror of how your body feels.
3 common good hair foods
A list of the best and worst foods for your hair could get very long, so let’s start with the 3 most common foods good for your hair.
Blueberries are full of goodness containing vitamins A, C, and E. Consuming these as part of your daily diet can have overall benefits for your skin and hair. Proanthocyanidins, chemicals found in blueberries, stimulate hair growth. They help to accelerate the change from telogen to anagen phase of hair growth. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, including vitamin B.
Oxidative stress is also associated with hair health and a review by International Journal of Cosmetic Science on the impact of oxidative stress on hair, links it to hair loss and unhealthy scalps. It is important, therefore, to maintain the required levels of antioxidants in the body to counteract oxidative stress.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have several health benefits. One for the hair is to maintain shine and lustre to the hair shaft. Wild salmon is preferable over farm-raised. Salmon also has a high selenium content, a mineral that protects from sun exposure. Salmon and other oily fish are rich in vitamin D that stimulate the hair follicles during the hair growth cycle. During the hair growth phase, hair follicles lay in a dormant stage.
Red bell peppers belong to the capsicum family of mild peppers with a slightly sweet taste. Peppers are good to add to your daily diet as they contain phytonutrients which have powerful antioxidants. They are also a good source of nutrients such as vitamins C, A and B6 as well as vitamin E, vitamin K, folate and potassium. Vitamin C is vital for the absorption of iron. Red bell peppers provide 300 per cent of daily vitamin C intake. If there is an iron deficiency eating red bell peppers will help to increase maximum absorption.
Looking at your diet is important to your hair quality and of course your overall well-being. Making adjustments to your diet can bring back lost sheen and quality to once lifeless hair. This is a more positive move than trying cosmetic products to artificially thicken and strengthen your hair.
3 common worst hair foods
Protein is important for your hair. Sugar hinders the absorption of protein. Added sugar is one to keep away from as much as possible. The public is becoming more and more aware of the dangers of high levels of sugar in a diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to make it easier for the consumer to monitor foods for sugar intake. As a result, all food companies must include a label for added sugars by 2020.
Starchy white foods
High-glycaemic foods include starchy white breads and pastas. Research shows that a high-glycaemic diet can increase androgen hormone levels. Over-processed starches are converted into sugar, which can cause hair thinning and, in the worst case scenario, hair loss.
High mercury content fish
Some types of fish naturally contain high levels of mercury. According to the FDA, high levels of mercury found in fish such as swordfish, mackerel, and some canned fish, including tuna, may be linked to hair loss. Like many things, it is a matter of everything in moderation. It’s not necessary to remove these types of fish from your diet altogether, rather control the amount that is consumed per week.
Healthy diet, healthy hair
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet can keep your hair in the best possible condition. Vitamin D, zinc, and iron all help to keep your hair looking and growing well. Research shows it’s possible to influence your looks simply by choosing specific foods. Hair growth, its thinning or loss, skin collagen, hormone balance and more are all tied to what you choose to eat.
There are some aspects that we cannot change – genetics and age. However by eating the best, and avoiding the worst, foods you can control and maintain a healthy head of hair and make the most of its quality naturally.