Benedetto Cusumano MIT WTS, from the Institute of Trichologists, shares his insight into why “what you eat” can really be at the root of a healthy and well-nourished head of hair
The hair is the second fastest growing cell in the human body and you have approximately 120,000 individual hairs growing on your scalp at any one time. However, because your hair is not a vital bodily organ, your body will never rank your hair and its nutritional needs as a priority. It is because of this that any nutritional imbalance will affect your hair before anything else, resulting in hair loss.
Hair and scalp issues can occur as a result of either having too much or too little of key nutrients in your diet. Iron and Ferritin (stored iron) deficiency can result in hair loss, but hair loss can also be caused by too much vitamin A in the diet.
What many people believe to be a healthy diet – one including lots of fruits and vegetables – does not always include all the nutrients necessary for the optimum health, appearance and growth of your hair.
For your hair to look its very best, your diet should contain a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, iron, vitamins and minerals.
This list of “daily dos” will ensure that you are doing the best for healthy and beautiful looking hair:
- Breakfast is the single most important meal of the day, not just for your overall health but for your hair too! The energy needed for hair growth and repair is at its weakest in the morning so eating a balanced breakfast of proteins and carbohydrates will give your hair the nutritional boost it needs.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is good for controlling your weight, skin complexion and, just like your skin, will keep your scalp healthy and hydrated too.
- Reduce the level of salt in your diet. Using too much salt in your food can cause retention of water in the body and this includes the scalp.
- Indulge in nourishing snacking. Energy levels decrease four hours after eating a meal. Eating healthy carbohydrates, such as wholemeal crackers, fruit and vegetables, will sustain your energy levels and help support the health of your hair follicles.
- Eat enough protein. Your hair is actually comprised primarily of protein so ensuring that you are eating enough protein as part of your diet is vital to having healthy hair. Eating lean protein for both breakfast and lunch is recommended. If you are vegan or vegetarian, sources of protein include beans, legumes, nuts and quinoa.
- Drink milk with your tea. Research has suggested that black tea can increase the chances of anaemia so adding a dash of milk to your tea can help to improve the health of your hair.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of Iron and Vitamin C in your diet. Iron is very important to your hair health but it can only be properly absorbed into the body if you are eating it alongside an adequate amount of Vitamin C. Having a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice with your breakfast in the morning goes a long way!
- Make sure you are eating a varied diet. Eating the same food every day is not only boring but bad for your nutritional health too! Eating a varied diet will ensure that your body, and your hair, is getting a broad range of vitamins and minerals that it needs to be healthy and happy.
Before making any significant changes to your diet, you should always consult your GP.
Benedetto Cusumano MIT
Member of The Institute of Trichologists