Long luxurious hair is every girl’s dream, and guys too! How to grow hair, how to maintain healthy hair, how to stop hair fall. how to treat dandruff etc. are some the common questions people keep looking answers for. There are many products that may give you good results, but the results are mostly not permanent and may burn a hole in your pocket. There are ways to grow your hair naturally but one needs to be patient and follow the regime religiously. But first, let’s start by understanding some basic physiological facts about hair. Each hair has a hair shaft and hair root. The shaft sticks out of the skin while the root remains within the deepest layer of the skin. We are all born with a number of hair follicles that remain constant throughout our lives. The hair follicles on our head number about 100,000 according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The hair root gets nutrition from the blood that flows in the scalp, helping hair grow. To lose about 50-100 hair daily is a normal process of the body. The oil glands that surround the hair roots coat the hair follicle with oil, making it shiny and glossy.
Now, coming back to the question ‘how to grow hair faster and healthier?’ The answer is yes, you may grow hair naturally. Genetics play a major role in hair health and growth but we can support hair health by adopting some simple strategies of good food.
1. Protein-rich diet
A diet rich in protein plays an important role in hair growth. The hair is 95% Keratin (a protein) and 18 amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Eating healthy proteins help hair growth while protein deficiency can lead to slow hair growth and makes them weaker. An Indian diet is particularly deficient in proteins; we eat a lot of carbs but forget proteins. Good protein sources include eggs, milk, paneer, yogurt, cheese, chicken, poultry and certain cereal grains like Quinoa.
2. Eat foods rich in Biotin
Biotin is a B vitamin and is associated with healthy hair growth. Lentils are a good source of Biotin and so are almonds, walnuts and vegetables like Cauliflower and carrots. Lentils and nuts also add up to the protein in your daily diet.
3. Iron-rich foods
Iron deficiency leads to poor oxygen supply to our tissues and this includes the hair follicles as well. In addition to iron another factor – Ferritin is also important for hair growth and deficiency of which has been linked to hair loss and poor growth. Iron can be found in meat, poultry, eggs and Green leafy vegetables, fruits like Guava. Supplementation should be only under a doctors guidance.
4. Add more vitamins like B12, B6, and Folates
Vitamins play a major role in preventing and alleviating anaemias, hence daily consumption will help keep the flow of nutrients to the hair follicles robust and will keep the hair and scalp healthy. Rajma, beans, whole grains and milk are good sources of B vitamins.
5. Omega-3 Fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in hair health. These oils are important for healthy skin and hence help maintain the health of the scalp. Dry scalp can result in poor hair growth. Omega-3 fats are abundant in fatty fish, flax seeds and walnuts.
6. Vitamin C-rich food
Vitamin C is probably the most important nutrient for skin health. Healthy scalp ensures healthy hair growth. In addition, Vitamin C is essential for Iron absorption and prevention of anaemias. So, fill your days with citrus fruits, bell peppers, fresh lemon water and more.
7. Include Zinc-rich foods in diet
Zinc is a mineral that is needed in very small amounts but is crucial for a lot of essential processes in our body. In case of hair health, zinc is said to help keep the hair follicles in good health. It is also used by our body for binding proteins. Whole grains, Legumes, peanuts, sunflower seeds are a rich source of zinc.
Crash dieting or following fad diets that restrict food choices have a detrimental effect on the nutritional status of our body, which in turn will cause unhealthy hair. Excessive use of chemicals and heat on hair will also cause damage. We love hair colour and we love to style our hair, but too much may not be the best. Massage with a good oil is invigorating for the hair. It enhances blood flow and rejuvenates the roots. So, don’t miss it.
Eat well, keep the stress at bay, and exercise – it’s the same formula for overall health.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.