Every day we read that the right diet keeps us healthy, helps us stay in shape and also gives us more energy for our everyday life. But what we don’t think about is that the right nutrients also help the health and beauty of our hair.
There is a proven link between what we eat and the vitality of our hair, because proteins, fats, oligo elements, pigments and water are the building blocks of our hair.
Our diet shouldn’t only be healthy, it also needs to be varied. Therefore, it’s best not to continually eat the same foods, but to vary our meals every day so that we’re sure our body is getting everything it needs.
KERATIN, THE PROTEIN THAT GIVES OUR HAIR STRENGTH
Keratin is a protein that our body produces naturally and is the main constituent of skin, hair and nails. A high concentration brings hydration and nourishment to hair, which appears shiny and silky. Dull, lifeless hair is a symptom of low levels of keratin. Chemical treatments like colours and perms, overly-aggressive shampoos, pollution, overuse of straighteners and hairdryers can lead to a depletion of the keratin structure in our hair.
So here is a diet that can help. Meat, fish and liver contain two essential amino acids – cysteine and lysine that make up keratin in hair. Chicken contains complete proteins that help hair cells synthesise keratin for thick, healthy hair. Salmon contains proteins rich in lysine (key amino acids for hair health) and is rich in omega 3, needed to keep our skin cells healthy.
Eating meat and fish at least twice a week helps us maintain a good level of this essential protein.
VITAMINS, THE ULTRA-IMPORTANT MICRO-NUTRIENTS
Vitamins are essential components in our diet, but are only needed in small quantities. This is why they are called micro-nutrients. They are also essential for the health of our hair because they make it stronger, healthier and improve its appearance.
Nourishes hair and helps prevent ageing. It is found in abundance in eggs, oily fish, leafy green vegetables and liver, as well as in carrots, broccoli, cabbage and squash. A lack can cause dandruff and dry hair.
It also benefits the skin!
B GROUP VITAMINS
Regulate the metabolism of the hair follicle. A serious lack causes greasy hair, dandruff and baldness.
In detail, these are:
VITAMIN B1 o Thiamine, allows hair to grow strong and healthy. Especially found in pulses.
VITAMIN B2 or Riboflavin, found in eggs, dairy products, broccoli and green beans. Helps sebaceous secretion (the production of sebum) and metabolic processes. A lack causes dry skin (asteatosis).
VITAMIN B3 or Niacin is vital for the health of our hair because it helps metabolise energy correctly.
VITAMIN B4 or Adenine is found in meat, cereals, potatoes, egg yolk and tomatoes and improves hair follicle activity.
VITAMIN B5 or Pantothenic Acid is found in eggs, peanuts, mushrooms, liver and broccoli and helps the robustness of the hair shaft while accelerating hair regrowth.
VITAMIN B6 or Pyridoxine, helps assimilate protein and acts on the enzyme 5α-reductase .
VITAMIN B8 or Biotin (also known as VITAMIN H) optimises lipid metabolism and prevents seborrheic dermatitis.
VITAMIN B9 or Folic Acid is vital for synthesising proteins, including keratin. A lack leads to telogen effluvium – serious hair loss.
A powerful antioxidant that increases oxygen absorption in body cells. A well-oxygenated scalp helps prevent hair loss and makes hair shiny. We find it in vegetable oils and wholegrain cereals, in wheat germ, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and walnuts.
VITAMIN H is the German name for biotin. It is the equivalent of VITAMIN B8, and is a water-soluble vitamin that helps form fatty acids, help metabolise carbohydrates and amino acids.
A small part is produced by bacterial flora and it is found in many foods like cow’s milk and derivatives, dried fruit and nuts, wholegrain rice, wheat, carrots, peas, lentils, calf’s liver, mushrooms and egg yolk. Some of these foods contain important mineral salts like calcium and magnesium. The minimum daily amount needed varies between 15 -100 mg.
This vitamin encourages the production of keratin, the base protein of nails and hair and, according to recent research, seems to have a neuro-protective properties for correct working of bone marrow.
Oligo elements are valuable minerals for health. These are trace elements, but they play a vital function in major physical processes. The health of our hair is also the result of an adequate supply of minerals, often lacking in our modern diet. A lack of oligo elements leads to hair loss, known as telogen effluvium, and so a healthy diet should always contain:
IRON. Found in red meat, spinach and fruit. This is vital for the synthesis of haemoglobin and for oxygenating blood. Iron helps produce the colour pigment that contrasts the appearance of grey hair.
COPPER. Found in spinach, shellfish and potatoes. Helps synthesize melanin that colours hair and prevents greying.
MAGNESIUM. Found in vegetables and peanuts. Helps the development of enzymes that produce melanin and favour hair regrowth. A balanced diet must include a sufficient quantity.
ZINC. Found in meat and fish. It promotes the activity of germinal matrix cells and, as a result, hair growth (or loss if this element is lacking).
SULPHUR. Found in white meat, liver and ham. Prevents weak hair and spilt ends.
There are foods that help hair by acting on the peripheral circulation of the scalp. One example is chocolate, which is rich in proteins and other mineral elements that are essential for the human body. It acts directly on blood circulation in our scalp and is used in several beauty treatments.
Chilli pepper is an important spice. Capsaicin, a chemical substance within it, is a vasodilator and applying it topically can help blood flow to the scalp and stimulate the hair bulb to remain productive, preventing hair loss.
So remember that we are what we eat, and our hair is how we nourish it.
A tutta salute con Medavita.