Feed Your Hair Through Your Mouth

Shampoos and conditioners have their place but hair really needs a good meal.

NUTRITION As we age, hair volume diminishes. Texture can seem dull, thin and brittle. Generally, people cope with this using one or more of six popular methods: 1) Spend a fortune at the hair dresser. 2) Buy more hair conditioners and oils. 3) Shave it off. 4) Obtain a prescription from a dermatologist. 5) Cover it up with a wig. 6) Ignore it and do nothing.

Reasons for hair loss are many. It would be foolish to treat them all with one remedy. [1] With this in mind, some of the aforementioned methods of coping with poor hair quality may be advisable. Yet, like our skin, fingernails and hair can signal correctable health issues. Too often these signals are masked under nail polish or wigs, respectively. We need to get to the root of the problem.

The Root of The Problem

Hair is comprised of two distinct structures: 1) the follicle beneath the skin surface in the dermis. It maintains stem cells which not only re-grow the hair after it falls out, but also after a wound heals; and 2) the shaft, which is the hard filamentous part that extends above the skin surface. [2]

The main component of hair and nails is protein keratin. The visible shaft exhibits no biochemical activity. The hair follicle includes the oil-producing sebaceous gland which lubricates hair. With this in mind, the quality of that hair shaft is dependent upon the amount of protein it contains and the amount of lubrication is naturally provided within its core from the scalp. Externally applied oils mask flaking and give the appearance of shine.

To improve hair volume and luster, consider treating from the inside out. Poor nutrition makes everyday a bad hair day. Avoid the foods that, at best, offer no nutritional benefit and at worst, inhibit hair growth. These are caffeine, sugar, fat and carbonated beverages. [3] Instead, include in your diet foods that naturally oil the scalp and strengthen the hair shaft.

Foods That Grow Hair [4]
Nutrition Source Benefit
Salmon, chicken, turkey, nuts, soy, eggs, beans Protein, Vitamin B, Zinc Strengthens hair shaft
Broccoli, spinich, swiss chard, carrots Vitamins A and C, Beta-carotene Increases sebum, a natural conditioner
Salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines Omega-3, Omega-6, fatty acids, iron, sulfur, protein Prevents scalp from drying out
Olives, avocado, flax seeds, liver, pumpkin seeds Fatty acids Moisturizes scalp

Topical hair solutions may be an advisable adjunct to good nutrition. Hair and scalp problems can also be caused by fungus, parasites or hereditary conditions. Healthy food extends the avenues for stimulating hair growth. So, while eating a turkey sandwich and munching on broccoli, it's a bit comforting to realize that you could also be feeding your hair.

Before heading to the hairdresser or your local drugstore for hair tonics, you can glean some excellent tips from the article at WebMD entitled Gorgeous Hair at Any Age. It describes various hair conditions that are common as we age and suggests haircare products (available in sidebar) and regimens to cope with them. [5]

Tags: barber, beautician, cosmetology, dermatology, dietitian, hair stylist, restaurant

References
  1. American Hair Loss Association. AmericanHairLoss.org
  2. Hair. Wikipedia
  3. Foods That Promote Hair Growth. Quickcare.org
  4. What Foods Aid in Hair Growth? eHow.com
  5. Gorgeous Hair at Any Age. WebMD.com