I love hair. Short or long – it just makes me swoon. But I have not always had the same love affair with my own hair. I always felt that my hair was under par compared to others. Girls and guys! The last couple of months I have taken a special interest in creating and maintaining healthy hair for myself.
Healthy hair comes from the inside. Of course, what products you use make a difference but for the most part, the health of your hair is largely influenced by what you eat, what you drink, gut health your sleep and stress levels.
Everyone is looking for the magic bullet for growing hair super fast. Sorry, it does not exist. Patience and investment into a good diet and some supplemental support can go a long way in speeding it up and creating healthy hair, but nothing will grow your hair by 5 inches in 1 month. Unless its extensions. Then yes, you got it.
Always and forever diet makes the biggest impact on your health. In my line of work, I have met people with amazing hair but who have terrible diets which many will use as a line of defence against eating well. But those same people suffer in different ways that you are not. The point is to understand that if you are having trouble with hair loss, hair condition or very slow growth, your diet may be a cause.
Eating a whole foods fresh diet means you are getting plenty of nutrients – vitamins and minerals – to grow healthy hair. Your body is wicked smart. Seriously, its the most beautiful complex system that knows exactly what to do. So in most cases of bad lifestyle and diet, the body will divert resources for health. Those vitamins and minerals are directed to organs and systems that are needed for life, not healthy lustrous hair. Having unhealthy hair and nails are usually indicators of deficiencies and or underlying problems in the body. They are early warning systems if something deeper.
A fresh whole foods diet not only provides you with adequate nutrients but also keeps the body clean and clear on the inside so everything can work efficiently.
What are some plant based foods good for hair?
- Berries – loaded with vitamin C, a great antioxidant to protect you from environmental damage as well as natural oxidation of cells. Vitamin C also is powerful in supporting collagen production in the skin.
- Greens – What arent greens good for? – High in folate, iron, vitamin A and C, all good for hair growth. What has been noted is that deficiency in iron and folate can lead to hair loss!
- Nuts and seeds – Loaded with good fats, proteins and minerals all essential for the healthy growth of hair from the follicle. They also contain great amounts of Vitamin E, linked to healthy hair. Another awesome nutrient that nuts and seeds offer is zinc. Another crucial nutrient for skin health.
- Avocado – Good fats for moisturised skin and hair. Avocado is also a great source of plant-based protein, bonus for strong hair.
- Beans and legumes – Good source of proteins as well as b vitamins.
- Sweet Potatoes – Ah love this on the list! And why? Beta Carotene aka vitamin A. Vitamin A is really important for skin health. Health scalp = healthy hair growth.
So whats the best way to ensure you get these each day?
- Green Smoothie – Greens powder, fresh collard greens, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and some frozen berries and water.
- Snacking – Nuts in a Tupperware for work or well, anywhere! Bake sweet potatoes in the oven on a lower heat for longer, wrap it up and take it to work
BONUS: Eating like this will not only benefit your hair but it will have a positive impact on your energy, weight management as well as your skin.
Hydration is important for health in every way. We are after all 60% water! Make sure you are drinking the recommended 2 – 3l of water per day. Dehydration is a lot more common than people think. You can suffer from chronic dehydration. This shows up as fatigue, clouded thinking, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, dizziness and dry, dehydrated skin and hair. Look at how this woman drank water for 30 days and transformed her skin!
Another consideration when it comes to the health of your hair is the quality of the water you wash your hair with. Hard water has more minerals and creates more build up in the hair over time. This means you wash your hair more, stripping it more and this runs in a cycle. Build up – wash more – scalp produces more oil to compensate – wash more – more build up from the water etc – you get it.
What’s the solution? Get a filter for your shower. You get some pretty awesome filters these days. I really like shower filters with added Vitamin C. Remember antioxidants 🙂
This is so understated in health. Stress has so many effects on our health that if people really knew then they would all be meditating in Zen gardens all over the place.
One of the impacts of stress is the condition of hair and more so, hair loss. Yes, hair loss. Scary right? Stress impacts your adrenal function and your adrenals are connected to your hormones and your hormones regulate DHT – too much DHT and you have hair loss. DHT comes from male sex hormones and this is why men suffer more from hair loss. But women, under the right circumstances, can tip their hormones in favour of more male hormones and this can lead to hair loss. So if your hair is thinning out, look at your stress and anxiety levels. Taking care of yourself is essential. (Hormones imbalance may be caused by many things but a good place to start is diet, stress, sleep and vitamin D levels)
BONUS TIP: Feeling stressed? The 4 7 8 breathing technique has been proven to calm the nervous system down. Herbal remedies such as lemon balm, or L-Theanine, an amino acid, are also great at helping to relieve stress. But remember, supplements can aid you to calm down, but inevitably you need to tackle the source of the stress as well as how you respond to it.
Sleep is underrated in our society. The phrase “sleep when you are dead” has become popularized and I could not disagree more. Sleep now. Sleep well. Enjoy it. Choose it over a night out if you need to! Sleep is our bodies time to heal, to rest and digest life. It’s a time for our minds to shut down and unwind.
Part of my personal-development is to look at successful people and see what they have in common and sleep is most definitely one of them. Contrary to belief, a lot of successful people don’t advocate working to the bone and over stressing. Take Aubrey Marcus for example, this guy is mega successful and he can not stress enough the importance of resting.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to thinning hair and hair loss so if you are suffering from hair loss and tried the above, whats your sleep like? Here is a great video on sleep and its importance.
If you haven’t heard already, our microbiomes are one of the most important systems in our body. The microbiome regulates the immune system, our defence against the world around us. Think of the gut as the central hub of your immune system.
The gut shares a very important connection with the brain called the vagus nerve. Its the highway of communication between the gut and the brain. So when one end is not working it can have effects on the other.
Stress can result in gut issues and microbiome imbalances or inflammation can impact the health of your brain. But what does this have to do with having healthy hair?
If your gut is not in good condition, this can have an impact on the ability of your gut to absorb nutrients. Nutrients are needed for healthy hair. Voila, connection. On the other side of the communication highway, if your gut is not well, it can lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia, again, all factors in the health of your hair.
A healthy gut is simple to achieve. Sometimes its not easy (weekends especially) but it is simple. Treat your gut well and over timer it will heal itself:
- Avoid sugar and alcohol
- Avoid gluten and dairy
- Eat fermented foods (kimchi and sauerkraut are great)
- Plenty of water
- Plenty of greens
- Reduced stress
- L-glutamine supplements
I know a lot of people are against supplements and while my first line of defence is a good diet, here are the reasons I do support supplementing. (opt for good quality supplements with few fillers and bioavailable forms)
- Environmental pollution
- Inadequate soil conditions = fewer nutrients in food
- Bio-individual ability to absorb certain nutrients
- Gut health
So what supplements support hair growth?
- B Complex – A good B complex supports healthy blood flow in the body and helps to deliver nutrients to the scalp and therefore the hair.
- Biotin (B7) – There is a lot of hype around biotin and while it didn’t make much of a difference for me it may have a profound effect on you. Take biotin with a b complex to avoid b vitamin imbalance. Alternatively, take biotin for 2 weeks at a time and 2 weeks off.
- Zinc + Vitamin A – Both of these work at maintaining healthy hair and sebum production. A healthy scalp is essential to grow healthy hair.
- Evening Primrose oil – High in GLA promotes skin health as well as hormonal health (remember imbalanced hormones can affect hair health). An added bonus is that your skin will look smoother and softer.
- Vitamin D – Can not praise vitamin D enough. Essential for new hair growth and follicle stimulation. Also modulator of hormones. (2000 IU per day is adequate)
- MSM – Great at reducing inflammation (healthy skin) and stimulating hair growth and strengthening hair.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an old go to and will always be a go to. It is used in so many systems and process in the body. Its water soluble to it leaves our system pretty quickly. 1000 mg in the morning and evening will support healthy immune function, have an antioxidant function in the body and stimulate collagen production int he skin and hair.
Products and washing
The products you use will definitely have an impact on the health of your hair and scalp. Avoid harsh chemicals as far as possible. I personally love Kevin Murphy products. They are vegan, cruelty-free and their packaging is 100% recyclable. His products are a bit pricey when you are buying at once but I can say they last for months! 3 months at least. A little product goes a long way.
Your scalp is living and should be treated gently. Don’t scrub with nails, overwash or use heat too much. How you wash your hair is also important.
Wash your hair consciously. I use the soft parts of my fingers and go gently in circles all over my scalp and make sure it’s clean. Sometimes (for reasons I haven’t pinned down) I need to wash more than once to really get it clean. Rinse well and apply conditioner and give your scalp a good massage. The days I wash my hair I do it over the bath so I can really focus on what I am doing!
It takes time.
If you are struggling with hair loss or just want your hair to be longer, care for your hair. Give it time, love and attention. Be patient and be consistent in your program. Nothing of true value happens quickly. Decide on a protocol and stick to it for at least 3 months. Take pictures to compare for progress. If the protocol is not working, change it up and try again. Our bio-individuality means certain products will work for some people and for others it will not.
I know for some, men and women, hair loss is a serious concern. Go to the doctor and test hormones and nutritional status to see if there are any underlying issues. Avoid harsh chemical treatments. Herbs and supplements can do wonders with patience and a positive attitude.
NOTE: Please don’t feel like you need to go and buy all the supplements or rock your whole world upside down to get the hair you want. Start with a healthy diet, good quality products and if you really want to, add 1 or 2 supplements to support your hair growth and health. Overdoing it is also not healthy. Healthy hair is a long and steady game. <3