If you’re looking to get healthy, shiny, luscious hair, investing in a great conditioner is a good place to start (our personal favourite is the silk infused treatment conditioner from V&M Spa). But nourishing your hair from the inside, out is an option too. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 foods for healthy, shiny, strong and luscious hair, so your products don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
For the plant-based out there who are tired of being told to eat fatty fish for long, luscious hair (we’ll get to that), we’re starting with the meat-free heroes which work wonders for healthy hair growth. Number one on the list is nuts: these protein-packed powerhouses are rich in vitamins and minerals including zinc, vitamin E, vitamin B and essential fatty acids. Vitamin B deficiency in particular has been linked to hair loss, so including a range of nuts in your diet can be an easy step towards healthy hair.
Berries are another vitamin-rich plant-based option. As well as being loaded with antioxidants (which help reduce inflammation in the body, meaning healthier distribution of nutrients between cells and protection against harmful free radicals), berries are rich in vitamin C which aids in the production of collagen. As well as improving skin health, collagen helps improve the strength and structure of hair follicles. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, which is important for helping red blood cells transport oxygen around the body.
Another iron-rich plant is spinach, but spinach’s iron content isn’t its only perk. This vitamin-rich leafy vegetable is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as being rich in folate which is essential in the production of hair follicles. While vitamin C helps in the bodies detoxification process and aids the production of collagen, vitamin A helps the skin glands to produce sebum, which helps hair to lock in its natural moisture.
Another option for maintaining hair’s natural moisture is sweet potatoes. A great source of beta-carotene (which is converted by the body into vitamin A), a medium sized sweet potato is said to contain over four times your recommended daily vitamin A intake.
Avocados are rich in vitamin E, which is another vitamin loaded with antioxidant properties. As well as working to eliminate free radicals within the body, vitamin E also works to eliminate oxidative stress to the skin, so can help to protect the scalp. These vitamin-rich veggies are also an excellent source of healthy fatty acids, which the body uses to create cells.
The most obvious, essential dietary component to promote hair growth is protein. As a primary animal protein which can be easily digested by the body, eggs are a natural go-to. As well as providing protein which is essential for the production of hair follicles, eggs are rich in biotin – a vitamin essential for the production of keratin. Nutrient-wise, eggs are also an excellent source of selenium and zinc, which both help with the body’s growth and repair cycle.
For a plant-based alternative, seeds are another great source of protein. From an intuitive, entirely unscientific perspective, this one makes a lot of sense. Seeds mean growth, right? To an extent, right. These magic morsels are densely packed with enough nutrients (including selenium, vitamin E and zinc) to support the life of a plant, and that goes for your hair’s life too. While seeds like flaxseeds and chia seeds provide omega-3 fatty acids, sunflower seeds and are rich in vitamin E and B vitamins, so to get the best benefits, vary your seed intake by adding a range of different seeds to your diet.
As well as being a plant-based source of protein, soybeans are uniquely rich in spermadine: a compound which has been found to speed up the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, meaning a soybean heavy diet may help to extend the length of your hair.
As with eggs, meat is a primary animal protein which can help with hair growth by providing the body with adequate amino acids for the healthy production of hair follicles. While there are many plant-based proteins which can also provide the necessary amino acids for healthy cell production, its the iron-content of red meat which sets it apart. The iron found in red meat is particularly easy to absorb, and is amazing for helping red blood cells deliver oxygen to cells within the body (including hair follicles).
And finally, if seafood is in line with your dietary requirements, fatty fish can work wonders for promoting hair growth. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring provide primary protein which can be converted by the body into amino acids for cell growth, as well as omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to promote hair growth and density.
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