The classic fairy tale princess, ‘Rapunzel’ used her long braids of hair to win her prince charming and so can you…!
A lustrous and strong mane is a valuable asset which can be easily transformed into a fashion accessory by merely colouring, curling, and dressing up or smoothening. And when it comes to healthy hair, just applying branded shampoos, expensive conditioners and hair revitalizing creams would not be able to give us the luxurious locks which we crave for. If we wish for the hair that is healthy and strong, we would most definitely be required to stride out of the shower, and focus more on what we put on our plate than on our tresses.
Hair is basically a filament, which is mostly protein and tends to grow an average of 1/4 to 1/2 inch every month in a healthy adult. Hair has an extremely active cell system. The cells in the hair bulb are second only to bone marrow in the frequency at which they generate themselves. The foundation of healthy hair growth is the array of nutrients which we eat and just like any part of the body; hair too needs a healthy and well balanced diet to grow longer and stronger. While it is true that genetics play a pivotal role in deciding the thickness of our hair, a nutrient dense diet that includes plenty of growth-promoting nutrients such as protein, iron and calcium can certainly make a difference .Agreed, if we were born with fine textured, thin hair, we would perhaps be never able to flaunt rope-thick tresses. But, if we choose our hair nutrients well and add them in our daily menu, our hair would surely reflect the shine and we can easily keep the daily hair problems like limp, dry hair, premature greying and hair fall at bay.
You are sure to find innumerable beauty supplements and dietary pills on the shelves of most stores to thicken hair or make it grow faster, but it is advisable to try to get the nutrients you need from foods whenever possible. You would be amazed to know that what we choose to eat and for that matter not eat enough, can actually have a profound effect on the way our hair looks, feels and grows. Our diet affects not only our body’s ability to absorb nutrients but also impacts the production of enzymes, and the way our hormones work, all of which are crucial to ensure an optimum hair growth. So, while avoiding unhealthy foods like fried foods, excess sweets and trans fat rich foods like wafers, cookies and cakes is important, it is also imperative to ensure that our body gets the correct dosage of nutrients through natural and supplemental means. The most crucial hair growth nutrients are –
- Water- Water makes up almost one fourth of the strand of our hair and drinking adequate amount of water (at least 8-10 glasses per day) ensures a soft, supple and shiny hair.
- Proteins-Hair is primarily protein and adding proteins will ensure a better hair growth and lesser breaking and splitting.
- Vitamins– Vitamin A keeps our scalp healthy and controls the oil secretion while the vitamins like E,B and C are responsible for hair colour, strength and lustre.
- Minerals-Among the minerals, iron helps to feed our hair follicles with the much needed oxygen and Zinc and selenium help to delay greying and hair fall.
So, now that we have a fair idea about the specific nutrients which are required for our hair, let’s get acquainted with the top 5 healthy hair foods which are basic to a healthy hair menu and must feature in our daily hair promoting diet. Do incorporate these foods in your diet.
Healthy Hair Food No. 1: Fish
When it comes to foods that pack a healthy punch, it’s hard to beat fish. Loaded with hair friendly omega-3 fatty acids, this high-quality protein source is also filled with vitamin B-12 and iron. If you are a Vegetarian, then include soybeans, milk products and one or two tablespoons of ground flaxseed or alsi in your daily diet.
Healthy Hair Food No. 2: Beans
Beans like rajmah (kidney beans), lentils (dals) and sprouted pulses make an important part of your daily hair care regime. These protein dense beans have plentiful nutrients and vitamins such as iron, zinc and biotin which help not only in making your hair stronger, but also aids in keeping common problems like thinning and falling of hair away. The recommended intake of these beans would be around 4-5 servings in a week. You can easily add them in your diet in the form of dals and rasam, sprouts salads, dal stuffed paranthas, rajma rice or moong dal chilla (pancakes made from ground moong dal)
Healthy Hair Food No. 3: Nuts
Going nuts over nuts is recommended to get the healthy hair which you have always craved for. Zinc and Selenium are the key minerals required for a healthy scalp and nuts like almonds and walnuts happen to be their best sources. Walnuts, in particular contain the omega 3 fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid) which helps to condition our hair. These nuts are also a terrific source of proteins and Vitamin E which help in delaying the process of greying of hair.
Healthy Hair Food No. 4: Eggs
An adequate amount of protein is essential for strong hair. Any protein deficiency or any diet with low quality of protein may result in dramatic changes in the hair thickness, cause slowed growth and weak and brittle hair which break under minimum stress and strain like combing. Eggs are a great source of good quality protein and also provide our hair with iron and that too with a high degree of bioavailability, so that our body can easily utilize its benefits. They also contain biotin and vitamin B-12, which are important beauty and hair care nutrients. However, if you have a history of heart ailments, it would be better to switch to egg whites instead of whole eggs. Vegetarians can opt for low fat dairy products and tofu for similar benefits.
Healthy Hair Food No. 5: Whole Grains
To arm your hair with a healthy dose of zinc, iron, and B vitamins, add fibre rich whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and cereals like oat bran, sorghum (jowar), millets, nachni/ragi, in your diet .Make jowar bhakris ,bajra rotis, nachni porridge and wheat bread sandwiches a regular inclusion in your menu.
Watch out for the next article in the series, ‘Diet Solutions for Common Hair Problems‘.