Have you ever told someone that you don’t wash your hair every day? Their faces snarl, sometimes they even make a noise indicating their disgust. For someone like me with very, very coarse and curly hair, daily washing isn’t a necessity. If anything, it’s doing more damage than good considering how much shampoos can dry out your hair, strip shine, and wear down the general health of each strand.
Shampoo isn’t the only thing wrecking your hair, a greasy fast-food habit can be just as destructive. The health of each strand of hair shows more than just your showering regimen, it’s an indicator of your total wellness.
“The condition of your hair reflects your nutritional status as well as your overall health,” said Dr. Jessica Wu, Daily Glow‘s Skin + Beauty Expert, Los Angeles dermatologist, and author of Feed Your Face. “If you’re feeding your body plenty of protein and other essential nutrients, your hair is more likely to be strong, shiny, and easier to style. On the other hand, certain dietary deficiencies or imbalances can make hair weak, brittle, difficult to style, or even change color. If you’re not eating the right foods, your hair can get dull, dry, and thin.”
Yes, once again, what you’re eating shows up in more places than the mustard stain on your shirt or the bulge around your belly. Your hair is taking a beating every time you opt for fries over a salad or a Coke instead of a water. Your hair is a reflection of what you eat, making it even more important to be mindful at each meal.
Dr. Wu broke out some impressive science to explain why our hair needs specific amino acids to ensure more than an occasional good hair day.
“For stronger hair, I recommend eating foods that are high in the amino acid cysteine. This is because keratin, the protein that makes up your hair, is made largely of cysteine. Cysteine molecules are linked together in a strong bond called a disulfide bond, which gives your hair its strength.”
Feed your hair pork, poultry, egg yolks, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, oats, garlic, and onions for a stronger coif.
If you’re in need of a thicker head of hair, Dr. Wu suggests foods rich in zinc and iron. “Zinc is essential for producing keratin, so people with low zinc may produce finer, sparser hair. In addition, anemia from iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of thinning hair in otherwise healthy adult women,” she explained.
Feed your hair lentils, kidney beans, spinach, and zinc- and iron-fortified foods (cereal, pasta).
Improving the foods in your diet is one way to improve the health of your hair, but you can also go straight to the root of the problem. Shampoos can be so damaging to hair by drying it out and making it more brittle. A new trend of late is to make homemade shampoos without the harsh detergents and sulfates. Dr. Wu warns that these homemade cleansers won’t give you a rich, foamy lather, but they can help repair your hair.
Feed your hair a mixture of olive oil, honey, and aloe vera juice. “Mix well so you can work it through your hair,” she says. Then, for an all-natural conditioner, choose one of the following that is best for your needs. Dr. Wu recommends conditioning the ends of your hair with bananas for oily hair, avocado for normal hair, and coconut oil for dry, frizzy, or brittle hair.
“If you use a lot of product, try removing excess residue with a dilute solution of apple cider vinegar once a week,” added Dr. Wu.
One last thing, make sure you’re feeding your scalp, too. Yogurt and tea are two things that should be a part of any healthy diet, but Dr. Wu explained that these foods are ideal for a healthy scalp, too.
“Many people with dandruff have an overgrowth of yeast on their scalp, so taking a probiotic (or try eating yogurt) has been shown to help relieve itching and flaking. Also, chamomile is a calming ingredient, so if you have itchy scalp, try doing a rinse with cold chamomile tea.”
From head to toe, the health benefits of wholesome foods know no bounds. If you’re having a bad hair day, switch up your lunch before you invest in a new line of styling products.
avocado mask image via loveinsydney.wordpress.com
August 1st, 2012