We all know that diet is important. Eating well is one of the biggest contributors to overall good health, and a balanced diet has a positive impact on every part of our body. We may not always think of diet in relation to hair care, however, but actually the signs of a poor diet will tend to show up in your hair before you notice them anywhere else.
Your hair suffers first
The cells that make up your hair are actually the second-fastest growing in your body, after those in your intestine. Each individual hair is a complex part of your system, requiring support and nourishment. At the same time, your hair is very low down on your body’s list of priorities. It knows that if necessary, you can live without it, so if you have an imbalance in your diet, your hair is the first part of you to have its rations cut.
What this does mean is that your hair is like an early warning system. Any deficiencies or excesses will more than likely cause damage there first, showing up in the form of hair loss, or dry and brittle hair, or an appearance of being greasy and lifeless. In short, your hair is extremely sensitive to changes in your diet.
Viabrance and a balanced diet
Certain foods will support and encourage certain qualities in your hair, as this article by Viabrance explains, but overall your hair, like the rest of your body, responds best to a properly balanced diet. This means including sufficient carbohydrates, calories, proteins and fats alongside vitamins, minerals and plenty of water for truly healthy hair.
Plenty of proteins
At a cellular level, your hair is largely made up of amino acids and a protein called keratin. This is sustained by your daily protein intake. Proteins are the building blocks of the whole body, but in terms of your hair, they give it strength and support growth. If you’re not getting enough protein, then you may notice that your hair has stopped growing. With a more serious deficiency, it could become brittle and start to fall out.
Meat, fish, poultry and eggs are the best sources of protein, with eggs being the favorite choice for your hair. Cheese is also good, but in some people, it can be a cause of dandruff. Beans, nuts and pulses are also rich in protein but are more difficult to absorb as they don’t contain the same level of amino acids.
To convert protein to energy, we need carbs. Ideally, these should be natural, complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains such as whole wheat bread or natural wholegrain cereals. Brown rice or pasta, fresh fruit, beans, peas and jacket potatoes are also recommended. Hair growth requires a lot of energy, and each serving of complex carbs provides enough for about four hours. Again, a carbohydrate deficiency could lead to hair loss before you notice other symptoms.
One of the most common causes of hair loss is anemia, which in turn can be caused by a deficiency in iron. This is an important mineral for your whole body, but it is particularly essential for healthy hair. Iron deficiency leads to a shortage of red blood cells. If you suspect that you are suffering from iron-related anemia, consult your doctor, who will be able to prescribe the right kind of supplement. Ideally, a healthy diet should provide the right levels of iron to our bodies, so don’t take a supplement without medical advice as too much iron can also be dangerous.
The stored iron ferritin helps to produce protein in your hair as well as in other cells of your body. In cases of an iron deficiency, your body will withdraw ferritin from your hair to distribute it elsewhere, leading to shedding. Peaches, prunes and apricots, broccoli and beetroot, spinach, lentils, almonds, walnuts and red meat are all rich in iron.
Biotin is an essential vitamin for your hair. In fact, it’s sometimes known as vitamin H: H for hair. It helps to break down carbs, fat and the amino acids in protein, supporting healthy, active hair. Great sources of biotin include egg yolk, bananas, avocados, raspberries, cauliflower, liver, pork, salmon, nuts and beans.
In short, your hair is just as affected by diet as the rest of your body, and in fact is even more sensitive to dietary imbalances than the rest of you. Drinking plenty of water is also essential to hydrate your hair and skin so that you look and feel your best.