EFFECTS OF SUPERFOODS ON HAIR GROWTH
Hundreds of hair products, such as creams, gels, lotions, etc. line the shelves of various beauty supply stores, all advertising how efficacious they are in hair growth. Although these products may help, a much more in-depth analysis of hair growth is needed.
Good hair growth depends on proper nutrition, but what is that? Just because you eat 3 times a day doesn’t mean that you are eating properly. How often have we heard someone say, “I eat healthy meals?” Well, what does that mean? Oftentimes, it means a person eats just what they like. However, proper nutrition is far more than that; it means eating a BALANCED diet that gives the body the nutrients it needs.
It’s the “balanced” part that we mostly struggle with. Majorly, this is caused by cultural influences we grew up with. For instance, if our grandma or mom didn’t take a certain type of food regularly, that would rub off on us. Therefore, the onus is on us to break out of the box of eating the same types of foods all our life. No one food has all the nutrients we need, so that is why we have to eat different types of foods. A very handy tool is called “The food pyramid.” Study it and make every effort to follow it closely.
Now, let’s talk about the vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy environment for our hair to grow.
NUTRIENTS THAT HELP THE SCALP
Biotin: This nutrient hydrates the scalp and prevents dryness and flakiness. Additionally, it prevents breakage by strengthening the elasticity of the hair cortex. Sources include: eggs, liver, soy, beans, etc.
Vitamin K: This nutrient helps keep the skin soft and hydrated. It can be found in carrots.
Vitamin A: This nutrient helps boost regulation of the scalp skin cells. It can be found in dark green vegetables.
Vitamin B6: This nutrient helps prevent dandruff. Sources include: cereal, egg yolk, liver, etc.
Vitamin B12: This nutrient helps prevent hair loss. Sources include: egg, chicken, milk, fish, etc.
Vitamin C: This nutrient helps to produce and maintain collagen, which is the connective tissue found around the hair follicle. In addition, as a strong antioxidant, it protects cells in the follicle and nearby blood vessels. It can be found in citrus fruit.
Vitamin E: Due to its antioxidant properties, this nutrient helps to strengthen the hair and protect it from breakage. Also, it helps nourish the cell membranes of the hair follicles. Sources include corn, vegetable oils, wheat germ, etc.
Pantothenic Acid: This keeps the scalp and follicles clear of dandruff, debris, and oil. Furthermore, it gives the hair flexibility, strength, shine, and prevents hair loss and greying. Sources include: cereal, eggs, liver, etc.
Flax Seed Oil: This regulates sebum oil in the scalp, which increases scalp hydration and eliminates dryness. It contains omega-3-fatty acids, and can be found in fish.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): It helps build collagen and keratin, which are the main components of the hair.
NUTRIENTS THAT HELP THE FOLLICLE
Zinc: A mineral that helps the enzymes that build healthy cells. It can be found in nuts.
Saw Palmetto: Nature’s Minoxidil (rogaine). It stops shrinkage, thereby allowing follicles to thrive.
Kelp: This helps regulate resting time in follicles, thereby helping the follicle to become active again.
Borage oil: It’s a natural source of omega-6 fatty acid, and helps reduce inflammation in the scalp.
Folic Acid: It has been proven to be a remedy for hair loss disease such as Alopecia.
Protein: The hair shaft is made of a protein called keratin, and many of the vitamins and minerals you need help the enzymes that put the keratin molecules together. Good sources of protein are eggs, chicken, beef, pork, etc.
Follicle is where your hair grows from, and if your hair is thinning, damaged, or growing slowly, your follicles are most likely damaged or have shrunk. If you’re having problems with split ends or hair breakage, you need to build a stronger cortex (the hair shaft). When your scalp and follicles are properly nourished, you will start to grow fuller hair faster.
Hair is one of the fastest growing tissues in the body; the fastest growth is from 15 to 30 years of age, and the rate of hair growth decreases from age 40 to 50. There is a cycle of hair growth which is follicle creation, maturation, then destruction. For each new cycle, a follicle is created all over again.
THINGS TO AVOID
Crash Diets - These drastic diets rob your body of energy needed for the high metabolism going on in the hair follicle. Avoid very low calorie diets, as this is a definite trigger for sudden hair loss. Many people bounce from one diet to another or eat protein all the time. Effective weight loss plans are readily available online which you can make use of. In addition, endeavor to follow the Food Pyramid concept.
Avoid Sugars and Processed Carbohydrates
Sugar provides no nutritional benefit of its own, and nutrients in the body are used to process it; therefore, it is really an “anti-nutrient” that wastes nutritional molecules you need for healthy hair growth.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, flour, and white rice have a similar effect because they have had all their nutrients striped away and are turned into sugar in your body. Try replacing the sugary snacks with a piece of fruit, some nuts, or breakfast cereal. Avoid the white carbohydrates and go for the whole grains.
Eating healthy requires you to spend time to learn the “Healthy food Vocabulary,” i.e., whole grains, and read food labels to see what’s in the food you are eating.