A healthy, balanced diet is the first line of defense for great hair. Just like your skin, the condition of your hair is an outward sign of inside health. The cells that make up each strand of hair require a regular supply of key nutrients.
Eating a variety of healthy foods will give you the mane you wish for:
Protein: the building blocks: As hair is made of protein, ensuring you have enough protein in your diet is crucial for making hair strong and healthy. If you are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your hair will become dry, brittle and weak. The special protein in hair, keratin, is responsible for giving hair its strength and flexibility. Low protein diets may result in hair loss.
Good sources: Chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs and soy protein. Beans, legumes and pulses, but combine them with starchy food proteins such as wheat, rice, or corn to ensure a wide range of dietary amino acids essential for keratin production and healthy hair.
Keep the Complex Carbohydrates coming: No-carb or very-low-carb diets can affect the mane.
Sources: Wholegrain bread, brown rice, whole meal pasta, whole wheat or gram flour, millets such as ragi, jowar, bajra and oats.
Maintain serum iron levels right: A healthy diet containing iron-rich foods is usually enough to keep your iron stores replenished, but iron deficiency (anaemia) can result in hair loss.
Sources: Liver and red meats, oily fish and egg yolk, lentils, spinach, other leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale and salad greens, nuts such as dates, apricots, walnuts and pine nuts and breakfast cereals
Vitamins: the micronutrients for hair: Vitamins and minerals are essential for everyday health and that extends to hair health .People on highly restricted or crash diets can have significant hair loss, due to a lack of micronutrients.
Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and can arrest hair fall. Vitamin C also helps in the production of collagen that strengthens the capillaries that supply the hair shafts.
Sources: Blackcurrants, blueberries, broccoli, guava, kiwi fruits, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin A is needed by the body to make Sebum, an oily substance created by our hairs sebaceous glands and a natural conditioner for a healthy scalp.
Sources: Animal products and orange/yellow coloured vegetables which are high in beta-carotene (which makes vitamin A) such as carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin E: The sun can damage our hair just like it can damage our skin so ensure you eat foods rich in vitamin E to provide protection for your hair.
Source: Healthy oils such as olive, coconut, sesame, flaxseed and nuts.
Biotin: Too little biotin can cause brittle hair and may lead to hair loss.
Source: high-biotin foods eggs, peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, salmon, avocados, whole grains, soy flour and low-fat cheese.
Zinc to add zing to your mane: Low levels of zinc can cause hair loss, slow growth, and dandruff.
Source: Fortified cereals and whole grains are a good source of zinc along with oysters, beef and eggs, most nuts and seeds, peanut butter, wheat germ and fat-free yogurt.
A varied, balanced diet with all of the food groups and vitamins and minerals is best for healthy hair. So eat a mix of lean proteins, fruit and vegetables, whole grains and dairy each day for overall good health, and good hair health.
The author is a Senior Consultant Nutritionist, Max Multi Speciality Centre, New Delhi