As well as style, the hair demonstrates health and beauty

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Sandhya Govind

Sandhya Govind

Auckland, December 14, 2021

                                                         

                                                                     Healthy hair spells general wellbeing (Indian Actress Kushboo)

 

A person’s hair is considered in most cultures to be an extremely visible manifestation of good health and beauty. Hair also plays an important role in boosting confidence and self-esteem in people of all ages and social classes. 

Thus, beautiful, healthy, lustrous hair is something that most of us covet, although it seems increasingly difficult to achieve due to various reasons, including genetics, hormonal imbalances, certain medical conditions, certain treatments and medications, stress, improper diet and nutrition, poor lifestyle choices, and damaging hair care practices such as the use of harsh chemicals and excessive heat from devices such as hair straighteners and hair dryers.

All these can prevent our hair from staying healthy and contribute to hair loss. For most people, excessive hair loss can increase stress levels and cause considerable psychological distress.

This article will focus on just one of the many aspects that contribute to heathy hair growth – our diet. Proper nutrition is essential to provide sufficient nourishment to the scalp and hair follicles, which will in turn help in promoting optimal hair growth. The following are some of the nutrients that play an integral part in maintaining or improving the structure and strength of the hair and help in preventing hair loss.

Foods rich in Iron and Vitamin C

The hair follicles are fed by a blood supply that is rich in nutrients. Iron helps produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body. When iron levels (serum ferritin) are low, the hair follicles do not receive sufficient oxygen.

This may result in slower hair growth as well as hair loss. There are two forms of dietary iron – Heme and Nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal products such as red meat, chicken and fish, and is easily absorbed by the body.

Nonheme iron is less easily absorbed and is found in plant foods such as lentils, nuts, fortified grains, spinach, broccoli, kale and other green leafy vegetables. One way of increasing the absorption of nonheme iron is by eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C along with the iron-rich plant foods. Good sources of Vitamin C are blueberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, guava, kiwi fruit, oranges, papaya, strawberries and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin C supplements should be taken only if prescribed by health professional as an excess could lead to stomach pain, flatulence and diarrhoea

 

Indian women play floral tribute to their scalp (Wedabout Photo)
 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps in maintaining a healthy scalp, as it is involved in the production of sebum, an oily substance created by the sebaceous glands, which moisturizes the scalp and acts as a natural conditioner.

Over-production of sebum results in an oily scalp, while under-production may cause an itchy scalp and dry hair. Vitamin A balances the production of sebum and prevents both over-production and under-production, and also reduces inflammation of the scalp, stimulates hair growth and helps keep the hair healthy and shiny.

Vitamin A can exist in the diet as preformed vitamin A (from animal sources) or as provitamin A carotenoids (from plants). 

Good sources of Vitamin A include fish oil, oily fish (herring, sardines, salmon, cod), liver, eggs, chicken, yellow, orange, red and green (leafy) vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, capsicum, mango, papaya, apricots etc.

Please do not take Vitamin A supplements unless they are prescribed by a doctor, as this could lead to an excess of Vitamin A in the blood, resulting in toxicity with symptoms such as headache, skin rashes, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. It could also cause hair loss.

Protein-rich foods

Our hair is made up of about 91% protein. This is in the form of long amino acid chains called polypeptides that are found in the cortex (middle part) of the hair. Thus, a diet rich in protein is essential to make the hair strong and healthy. Insufficient protein in the diet could cause the hair to weaken and become dull, dry and brittle, which may result in hair loss. Good include sources of protein include meats, poultry, fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon, cod), dairy products, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts (Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts) and soybeans.

 

Actors like Brad Pitt have set hairstyle trends and healthy living
(Men’s Hairstyles Now Photo)
  

Foods rich in Biotin (Vitamin B7)

Biotin plays an important role in maintaining the strength and texture of the hair.

A deficiency in biotin can cause brittle hair and can lead to hair loss. The biotin required by our body can be obtained naturally from foods such as organ meats (liver and kidneys), canned salmon and tuna, egg yolk, avocado, yeast, soy flour, seeds, nuts, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Do not take biotin supplements unless prescribed by a healthcare practitioner as these supplements may interfere with the results of certain diagnostic tests as well as interact with certain medications, including those that treat seizures.

A balanced diet rich in protein, fruits, vegetables, grains, and an appropriate amount of good fats will go a long way in enabling us to have thick, healthy, lustrous hair.  When the body does not get enough of a certain nutrient, it uses what is available to nourish the vital organs in the body and maintaining healthy hair follicles is not a priority. Therefore, good nutrition, along with other treatments and lifestyle changes, plays a vital role in ensuring that our hair remains strong and healthy for as long as possible.

I would like to stress here the importance of consulting with a health care professional before taking any supplements.

My next article will be a continuation of this one with more information on foods to include in the diet for healthy hair growth.

Sandhya Govind is a qualified and trained Naturopath and runs the ‘Sandhya’s Naturopathy Clinic,’ an integrated Natural Medicine facility, which helps people rediscover optimal health, radiance and vitality naturally. She provides holistic support including Herbal Medicine, Supplements, Health Coaching, Diet Advice and Mineral Therapy. Ms Govind also creates Crossword and Word Search puzzles for Indian Newslink Digital Edition every fortnight. She can be contacted on 021-0709243. Email: sandhyanaturopathy@gmail.com; The above article should be read for general information purposes only and not taken as individual advice. Please always consult your GP or other authorised persons or agencies for personal advice. Indian Newslink and Sandhya Govind absolve themselves of all responsibility or liability in this connection.

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