The phrase "you are what you eat" has a history of being tied to body type and fitness, but healthy eating also affects the look and feel of your hair. That's right, if you want healthy hair, you better start by adopting a healthy diet. Your follicles depend on certain vitamins and minerals to produce radiant hair at optimal levels. You see, like the rest of your body, the outward appearance of your hair is significantly affected by the nutrients you provide. In other words, how your hair looks and feels is an indicator of your overall health.
The Growth Cycle
Like every system in your body, the growth of your hair is a specialized process that's inherently linked to the nourishment that comes from the foods you consume. Let's take a quick look at the growth cycle to understand how and why your follicles and hair depend on a healthy supply of vitamins and nutrients.
Hair is made up of two structures: the follicle and the hair shaft. The base of your follicles are provided with nourishment via tiny blood vessels. The living part of the follicle that receives nutrients from the blood is called the bulb, and its cells divide faster than any other type of cell in your body. The hair shaft is made of protein. The strength of this protein (keratin) is directly related to the amount of protein and vitamins that the follicle receives.
The hair grows in three phases, all of which rely on a healthy system. The first phase is anagen. During this stage the cells in the follicles divide rapidly, forming new hairs that will push the old hair up and out of the scalp. The next phase is the transitional phase known as catagen, during which growth slows and a club hair is formed. The follicles are dormant during telogen, but still require zinc, protein and more to restart the cycle and produce healthy hair. If your hair isn't getting the proper nutrients, the telogen phase may be prolonged, causing patchiness and thinning.
Drive-Thru Nutrition (Or Lack Thereof)
Fast-food may be convenient, but it's no way to treat your body. If your diet consists of drive-thru tacos, burgers, and fries, your overall health (and your hair) could be lacking some seriously important nutrients. The average fast-food meal contains the bare minimum of fruit or vegetables and often none at all. Nutrition facts for most fast-food meals are high in sodium and fats, and lacking in just about every other important nutrient. The highly processed meats and refined bread that makeup up the majority of fast-food meals just don't provide meaningful vitamins or minerals that help your body function at its peak.
If you must rely on fast-food meals once in a while, consider ordering smaller portion sizes, opting for grilled chicken sandwiches, or ordering a salad. All of these options will help you achieve a healthier drive-thru experience. Better yet, adjust your diet to focus on achieving health and cut out fast-food altogether!
Adjusting Your Diet
So, what exactly are the vitamins and minerals that your hair requires to stay strong and healthy? And what foods should you plan to consume in order to supply the best nutrients for happy hair? Well, adjusting your diet means knowing which key nutrients you may be missing and planning meals with sufficient amounts to jumpstart healthy growth. Here are some of the most vital nutrients that hair requires for optimum growth as well as some of the foods that can supply them:
- Zinc - Whole grains, lentils, and oysters
- Iron - Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Vitamin C - Sweet potatoes, blueberries, and oranges
- Vitamin B-12 - Meat, fish, and dairy
- Protein - Lean meats, yogurt, and eggs
- Omega-3 - Salmon and nuts
- Biotin - Egg yolks and grains
Healthy hair and your overall health are interconnected, but if you are struggling with hair loss we can help. Our hair loss experts can help you determine the cause of your hair loss and create a plan of action to reclaim your confidence. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation!