“Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair!”
These are actually lyrics from the song “Hair” which hails from the famous Broadway rock musical of the same name. The song is actually about hippies of the late ’60s with long hair as their statement, much like tattoos and body piercing are today. However, when you see photographs of people from that era you can’t help but be amazed by the amount of hair on both male and females during those times. I remembered as a teen back in the ’70s, taking care of your hair was extremely popular, more so than today. The big thing then was eliminating split ends and making your hair shiny. There was very little about the overall health of one’s hair.
You see countless television commercials from the past and present touting to use this shampoo and this conditioner and you’ll have the most beautiful head of hair possible. I suppose that is true temporarily, until the next cycle of washing and conditioning. What happens in between those times? According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a dietitian from Chicago says, “the foundation of our new hair is in the nutrients we eat. If you consistently eat a healthy diet you’ll grow stronger and healthier cells throughout your body internally and externally.” Hair and nutrition experts also say a well-balanced diet of proteins and iron does make a difference. Beware of dietary supplements that promise to make your hair thicker or grow faster.
What are the specific foods needed for healthy hair? The following information will be a guide to a mixture of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that are its foundation. It is important to know firsthand that a balance is needed with all of these foods for optimum healthy hair. A great book to read The Hair Bible: A Complete Guide to Health and Care by Philip Kingsley, a famous hairdresser, stresses the significance of eating a healthy protein-packed breakfast each day, since the energy levels in your hair follicles are at its lowest in the mornings. Here is a list of fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and other foods recommended by various sources for you to have healthy, shiny hair.
Vegetables – Beans, carrots, dark green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and Swiss Chard (similar to a beet) are excellent sources of iron, calcium, and vitamins A & C. These particular vitamins produce sebum, which is the oily substance secreted by the hair follicles that act as the body’s natural hair conditioner. Beans also provide plenty of protein for hair growth and have an ample supply of iron, zinc, and biotin. Legumes such as kidney beans and lentils are important for a hair care diet. Carrots are excellent for a healthy scalp, which is essential for shiny and well-conditioned hair, because it contains Vitamin A.
Fruits & Nuts – Essentially any and all fruits are vital to a diet for healthy hair. They can be eaten for breakfast and throughout the day as a nutritional snack. You can never go wrong with fruits, because they oftentimes are high in water, fiber, and Vitamin C. Brazil nuts are nature’s best source for selenium, which is an important mineral for the scalp. Also, walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acid that helps with conditioning the hair. Additional nuts such as cashews, almonds, and pecans contain a wonderful amount of zinc that helps prevent shedding of the hair.
Meat/Fish/Poultry – Eating beef twice a week is highly recommended, not only for its obvious protein factor, it has vitamin B, iron, zinc, and other important minerals for optimal hair health. Believe it or not bacon is another source of meat protein for your hair care diet containing zinc and vitamin B. Lamb is another meat protein to consider. The number one fish that is the best food for healthy hair is salmon, because it includes multiple vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B, B-12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. These help with the prevention of a dry scalp, which can lead to giving hair that dull look.
If you are a vegetarian an alternative to fish protein would be one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed into your diet. Another seafood high in protein, but never thought of for hair care are oysters. Yes, they have a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, but they also contain zinc, which is a powerful antioxidant. Poultry is another important protein. Without protein and iron in the diet your hair can become weak, brittle, and lose its color. Chicken and turkey are the best sources of high-quality protein. Once again for the vegetarians, egg whites are the next best thing if you can’t or won’t eat animal protein. Eggs scrambled, fried, or over easy are great for anyone to eat and have healthy hair in the process too.
Grains/Dairy Products – Brown short-grain rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain breakfast cereals are excellent complex carbohydrates for B vitamins, fiber, zinc, and iron. Low-fat diary products like cottage cheese, skim milk, and yogurt contain the vital mineral that is calcium. Whey and casein are sources of high proteins as well. Cottage cheese and yogurt make great “on the go” snacks, since they now have the mini container sizes.
This wraps up the list of the needed foods for healthy, shiny hair. One other important item that was not mentioned earlier is to drink plenty of water to keep you and your hair hydrated. Another important bit of advice for healthy hair is not to drink alcohol, smoke, or eat a lot of processed foods such as cookies, cakes, and candies. Be sure and remember to have an overall balanced diet of vegetables, legumes, fruits, lean proteins, fish, grains, and low-fat dairy items. It will give you the healthiest and shiniest hair around.