Even though hair is not a living tissue, it is important to supply nutrients to the hair follicles in the scalp. While there are no foods that directly stimulate increased hair growth, choose foods that supply the body with a rich supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and protein.
Foods to include:
• Ensure adequate protein intake as protein is necessary for hair growth. Choose lean sources of protein (fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy). Meat, poultry, and fish also contain iron, which is required for proper hair growth.
• Fish and flaxseed contain essential fatty acids necessary for proper hair growth.
• Nuts and seeds; almonds contain magnesium, which is important for hair growth.
• The outer skin of plants such as potatoes, cucumbers, green and red peppers, and sprouts can strengthen hair because they are rich in the mineral silica.
• Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of essential nutrients and fibre.
Foods to avoid:
• Caffeine and alcohol can deplete the body of nutrients and also raise adrenal levels, which can trigger hair loss.
• Foods high in sugar can raise cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and cause the body to produce more androgens, promoting hair loss.
• High intake of salt has been linked to hair loss. Foods high in salt include processed and snack foods, deli meats, and the salt shaker.
• Reduce or eliminate pro-inflammatory foods: saturated fat (fatty meats and dairy) and trans fats (processed foods and fried foods). Saturated fat reduces the amount of sex hor- mone-binding globulin (SHBG), a substance that normally binds to testosterone. With less SHBG, more testosterone can be converted into DHT, which promotes hair loss.
In my next post I will discuss lifestyle tips for healthy hair.