Whoever coined the phrase “you are what you eat” was probably thinking about the health of their hair when they said it! In truth this cliché’ should read: “You are what you eat and what your body can absorb and utilize….”
With the exception of our bone marrow and the cells that form the lining of our stomach, the cells of the hair bulb reproduce at a greater rate than any other body cells. Because of its rapid growth, hair is very sensitive to internal or external changes that may affect our body.
Hair loss or dull, dry hair is often the first indicator to a developing internal disturbance. It’s little wonder then that the condition of our hair is directly affected by the foods we eat or don’t eat.
A gradual ‘all over’ thinning of the hair in may reflect low iron, zinc, or other deficiency. It could also herald the onset of a physical disorder such as diabetes or problems of the thyroid gland.
With low iron, zinc, vitamin C deficiency, or a thyroid disturbance, the hair is very often dry, brittle and lusterless. Hair texture and color may also be altered with some deficiencies.
The hair structure comprises 98% protein – however the body regards hair as a non-essential tissue – and not a priority for regeneration & repair over muscle and skin tissue. Therefore an adequate daily protein intake from various sources is crucial to support optimal hair growth.
Where protein intake is inadequate – or the protein is not being utilized – the hair shaft becomes finer and thinner, with hair breakage, split ends and/or hair loss the inevitably result. Research studies have shown that if we go more than four hours without eating, the energy levels to our hair follicles is decreased, and the formation of hair protein cells is affected.
Our metabolism functions more efficiently when we consume a diet higher in protein & fiber, with less carbohydrate load.
The mineral zinc is an essential element required for many biochemical processes in the body including hormone production and immune system function. A zinc deficiency may be caused by poor diet, absorption problems, endocrine gland dysfunction, or the excessive use of alcohol or diuretics. Low zinc will result in dry, brittle hair and hair loss.
Scaling, flaking or itching scalps may be the result of a diet too high in sugars or poor quality fats. These scalp issues may also aggravated by stress, smoking or excessive alcohol use.
The positive side in all this is that simply by consuming particular foods – consumed at the right time of day – can dramatically improve the condition, density and strength of our hair. Scalp and skin scalp will also reap the rewards of an improved diet & good hydration with water and non-commercial vegetable/fruit juices.
Vegetables, salads and fruits should account for about one-third of our total dietary intake for at least five days per week. Different vegetables and fruits do not all have the same nutritional value, so it is important to include a wide variety of each in the daily diet. Rule of thumb: the more ‘colorful’ the
vegetable or fruit – the higher its anti-oxidant content. Dark green leafy vegetables are believed to have some carcinogen-prevention value – particularly in the bowel. They also potentiate the absorption of iron and other nutrients.