I've always been a pretty healthy eater, but lately I've been stepping it up a little. I do it for my health, to shed a few pounds for the summer, and to keep my hair healthy. These are my top foods (or beverages) for healthy hair that I've incorporated into my diet:
1. Water. Hair is made up of about 25% of water, so when we drink enough water, our hair will stay shiny and moisturized. Water also flushes out all of the bad toxins in our body. I discussed water in this blog a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I didn't stick to my water routine very well. I don't know if it was because I was sick of running to the bathroom, or if I just got lazy. Anyway, I started it back up when I was pregnant and kept it up while I was nursing, but then I fell off again. In January, I promised myself to drink at least 60 oz of water every day. This meant I basically had to cut out any other beverages. I lost 5 pounds in one week! That alone was motivation enough to keep going. Some of things that help me with my water commitment are drinking it at room temperature (I can drink more this way), setting time goals (i.e. I have to drink 30 oz before 10am), and halting water 2 hours before I leave work (so I don't have to go to the bathroom on my way home!). I rarely even think about drinking soda or sugared juices now.
2. Flaxseed. Flaxseed is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for glowing skin and hair. I started taking flaxseed oil pills in 2008 to help the condition of my hair, but I had an allergic reaction to them. About 6 months ago, I decided to try just plain flaxseed. I mix a teaspoon into my oatmeal every morning. Salmon is also a good source of Omega-3.
3. Protein. We all know that our hair is made up of protein (called keratin), so we need to add protein back into our hair to make the strands thicker. I especially need more protein after the thinning I experienced postpartum. I maintain a high-protein diet of hard-boiled eggs, chicken, fish, and lean beef, pork and lamb.
4. Vitamin C. The body needs this vitamin to produce collagen and sebum, the oily substance, secreted by our hair follicles which naturally conditions the hair. Even a mild vitamin C deficiency can cause split, dry ends. I make sure I bring at least 2 pieces of fruit to work every day, and usually one of them is a fruit containing vitamin C. Lately, my favorites have been strawberries, tangerines and pineapple. You can also get vitamin C through broccoli, asparagus, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, which I eat daily.
5. Nuts. Nuts contain the mineral zinc, which aids in tissue growth and repair, including hair growth. It also helps keep the oil glands around the hair follicles working properly. If you don't have enough zinc in your diet, you could experience excessive hair shedding. I also like nuts as healthy afternoon snack, so I avoid potato chips and other food I shouldn't be eating!
6. Carrots. Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A which are high in anti oxidants. Anti oxidants can help you balance the pH levels of the skin and also helpful in preventing the damage caused by the free radicals on the skin. Carrots can also help aid in hair loss. I bring carrot sticks to work as a snack, but I also juice carrots on a regular basis. They say that one ounce of fresh carrot juice can provide about 800% of the daily requirement of the vitamin A to the body. It can also help to burst the energy levels of a person. Carrots also contain vitamin C.
Other foods I eat to make sure I get the necessary minerals and vitamins are whole grains, shellfish, soy milk, lentils and beans. I take a daily multivitamin to make sure I get what my body and hair need as well.