Just like skin, we need to not treat, but nourish our hair. Our daily diet affects our hair directly and no amount of chemically made product is going to condition, moisturize, or improve the health of our hair. We must eat right to produce good results. If we are starving our bodies our hair will starve too. Malnutrition doesn't refer to a lack of food being consumed. It refers to a lack of nutrients. Stress is also a large factor with hair health, specifically growth and loss.
So lets talk about foods for the hair. Our hair, just like the rest of our body, needs to eat! The hair thrives from a wide variety of foods. The main minerals and vitamins our hairs needs are: vitamins B & C, the proteins keratin and collagen, iron, silica, lycopene, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. Below I will provide a list of foods with the nutrients that they provide. Keep in mind you'll get maximum nutrients with high qualities of these foods, specifically raw and organic or wild.
What to Eat for Healthy Tresses
Keratin (strength and growth): garbanzo beans, eggs, kale, walnuts, almonds
Biotin (B vitamin for growth): halibut, cucumbers, goats milk, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, almonds, walnuts, Swiss chard, and avocado
Other B Vitamins (prevents hair loss): dark leafy greens, eggs, poultry, salmon, whole fat yogurt
Iron (growth): dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, salmon, poultry, eggs
Silica (retains moisture and strength): leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, cucumber, celery, and strawberries
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (gives moisture): salmon, walnuts, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds
Lycopene (antioxidant that helps maintain levels of collagen): watermelon, tomatoes, red bell peppers
Tips to Be Aware of with Foods
There are two types of iron: heme (animal sourced iron) and non-heme (plant sourced iron). The body can actually absorb heme better, the chance of levels becoming toxic are higher. Non- Heme iron is easier for the body to regulate, which is less likely to store up and toxify the body.
What to Stay Away From
Caffeine: reduces absorption of non-heme iron
Excess Calcium: too much of this mineral, especially from processed milk from the grocery store, can inhibit iron absorption; do not ever supplement with calcium if it is not 100% necessary; if you ever do supplement with make sure it from a plant source like algae.
Phytic Acid: some plants contain phytic acid like nuts, seeds, grains, and beans; certain plants contain higher levels; it reduces non-heme iron absorption; a way to reduce phytic acid is to soak your nuts, seeds, and beans beforehand.
Good Supplements for Healthy Hair
Collagen: this is a protein found in the body in our bones. It breaks down over time due to stress and poor diet. Its very important for strengthening hair and it promotes growth. The best source is a sea sourced hydrolyzed supplement from wild fish bones. You can find it sourced from cows and pigs, but I would stay away from those due to toxins and lack of knowledge about antibiotics and hormones.
Aloe: a drinkable aloe supplement is very beneficial because it helps absorb B vitamins and it will add moisture.
Often times our hair and skin are victims of over washing. We live in a culture that is obsessed with getting rid of germs and bacteria. A little dirt never hurt anyone, it sure has helped several people though. I cannot stress enough how vital a healthy gut is to our immune systems. That requires trillions upon trillions of good bacteria. When we take antibiotics and eat poorly....oh I digress, back to hair. The over washing makes our hair dry and brittle. That is because the chemicals in the water, I highly doubt you are using a shower filter, strip our hair of moisture and natural oils. Same with our skin. Try to wash your hair every other, or even every two days if possible.
There are so many hair products on the market mainstream and organic. The problem is with organic products its hard to know who to trust since there are no clear or strict guidelines. The word organic without the USDA seal of approval really means nothing. So a hair product can have organic written on it 50 times and it still doesn't really matter. As the consumer we are left with buyer beware. It's kind of disconcerting if you really care about where your money goes, who you are supporting, as well as what goes on your head and the heads of your children.
The buying of hair products can get extra interesting when food allergies or intolerances are hanging out as well. Yes, if you have food allergies, especially to gluten, do be aware of what goes on your head! It makes a huge difference. Remember these things are going on our scalps, and it goes into our blood streams. I do think there are a few trustworthy lines available. It goes without saying that a hefty price tag is sometimes attached.
As a mom and follower of Yeshua, I really do take these little things to heart and pray. It's not worth stressing over though. I've watched moms literally stress over which products to purchase at the health food store where I work. Nonetheless these products are bought with God's money going on the houses for His Holy Spirit so we want to be responsible. I can share with you a couple brands that I have researched, feel comfortable with, and/or have used. I havent used all of them. Honestly, I've tried to make my own, and I haven't been satisfied yet, but will let you know if I become successful. Any brands I list are also gluten free. It's too arduous to go through every product line that isn't labeled gluten free. There are too many ingredients and terms that are disguised with crazy jargon you'd never know was gluten. Save yourself the trouble and only buy products with the gluten free label.
- Honey Bee Gardens
- Hugo Naturals
- Desert Essence
- JR Ligetts Shampoo Bars
- Latherandlove.com shampoo bar
Major Toxins in Hair Products
You want to be on the look out for the following toxins. When you see these you automatically know to move onto the next bottle:
- Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate: overly processed detergent that after processing contains carcinogens
- 2,5 Diamine Toluene Sulfate: toxin linked to blood disorders
- Peg-3 Cocamide: carcinogenic foaming agent
- Aminomethyl Proponal: pH adjuster usually used at much higher than safe levels
- Parabens: preservatives linked to neurological disorders and cancer
Final Odds and Ends
I usually wash my hair every other day. During one day of washing, usually mid-week I do a baking soda wash and vinegar rinse. It's a safe and inexpensive way to rid your scalp of excess product, brings hair back to life, and makes the hair shiny. I don't use shampoo or conditioner this day, other than possibly a little conditioner on my ends. To deep condition my hair, usually twice a week I massage organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil into my scalp, and all through my hair. I sleep on it in a shower cap, and wash it out in the morning.
To wash with baking soda use 1 part baking soda and three parts water. Try 2 Tbsp baking soda and 6 Tbsp water. Mix it in a small bowl or jar into a paste. Rub into hair and scalp, let sit for 1-2 minutes. Rinse in the shower. To rinse with vinegar you need 1 part water and 1 part raw apple cider vinegar, like Braggs. Try 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a jar, shake to mix well. Then pour onto hair slowly all over your head. You can add 5-6 drops of essential oils for a more pleasant scent, maybe try lavender or rose. Do not rinse. Dry and style as usual.
For styling I use argan oil like a gel. It keeps the frizz down, and argan oil is great for hair health. It's not too heavy or greasy. I've also been using Honey Bee Gardens alcohol free hair spray and I really like it. Hugo naturals has a hair gel that I'd like to try out. I will let you know if I do :) For guys a tip I picked up watching a documentary, which I currently can't remember the name of, was to use UNPETROLEUM JELLY (not to be confused with petroleum jelly), for hair pomade. Any good health food store should carry that product. It's made up of healthy oils.
What do you do to keep your hair healthy?