What is healthy hair? That is an interesting question in that most people think of hair as that stuff hanging out of their scalp, but that’s dead stuff. The only living part of hair is a cell under the skin that causes the hair to grow in the first place.
So, how can you offer healthy hair tips for something that is dead? Well, it might be dead, but it doesn’t have to look dead. It should look vibrant and shiny, not dull and listless and it shouldn’t fall out prematurely. So, what can you do to have healthy cells that grow hair and keep the dead, but showy part of the hair shiny and vibrant? Well, those are the two questions we answer today.
Healthy hair tip one – healthy cells
Healthy hair starts with the cells that grow it. Foods that are particularly good for hair include:
- Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – Salmon, which is also high in vitamin B-12 and iron, walnuts (1/4 each day) and flaxseed (2 – 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day).
- Eat foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. These nutrients are found in dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kohlrabi. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. Low fat dairy foods such as yogurt are excellent sources of calcium.
- Eat foods rich in iron, zinc, and biotin – beans and lentils are a good choice. Oysters are particularly rich in zinc. Most nuts are also a good source of zinc. Poultry provides biotin and a rich source of easily digestible protein. Eggs also provide biotin along with vitamin B-12. Whole grains provide zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
- Make sure you eat sufficient protein – turkey, chicken, beans, dairy products and eggs are good sources of protein. (Protein deficiency is rare except in some impoverished parts of the world.)
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of selenium – Brazil nuts are richest in selenium followed by wheat germ and brewers yeast. Warning: Selenium in high doses is toxic. It can cause your hair to fall out.
If you aren’t getting what you need from your diet, your hair will pay the price. For instance, if you’re deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, your hair will look dull and listless. Vitamin deficiencies reduce your body’s ability to produce sebum and sebum is your own personal hair conditioner. A biotin deficiency causes brittle hair. A zinc deficiency can cause your hair to shed.
Note: Beware of crash diets, they can be damaging to your hair if you aren’t getting adequate nutrition.
Healthy hair tip two – the exercise factor
- Exercise reduces stress – see ‘healthy hair tip three’ below.
- Exercise increases blood circulation to all parts of the body.
- Too much exercise has been linked to hair loss. It appears that heavy exercise raises testosterone levels which may lead to hair loss. If you’re concerned about this, stick to moderate exercise. A brisk walk is good. All your cells will thank you including those that live in your scalp. Protect your hair from the sun by wearing a hat or spraying with UV protectant (minimum SPF 12). Swimming is also a wonderful exercise, but you need to protect your hair from chemical damage from the chlorine by washing your hair immediately after a swim or wearing a swim cap.
Healthy hair tip three – manage stress
Everyone has stress. I think life would be really dull without it. Getting ready to go on vacation creates stress. Getting married creates stress. Getting a wonderful new job creates stress. These are all good things, but they create stress none the less. However, each of these events create short term stress that our bodies are designed to handle.
The problem really arises when we are under steady stress that demands our bodies to be continuously flooded with stress hormones. This is devastating to our health in general including our hair. If you wake up every morning stressed and go to bed each night stressed, it’s time to get proactive.
There are pharmaceuticals that are widely used to artificially reduce stress. I prefer to use the following activities to relieve stress. They work for me, you may have other ideas. If so, comment on them so others can benefit.
- Exercise – I like to walk in a park not too far from where I live. Misty, my little Yorkie, approves of this. Sometimes I go to the pool for a swim.
- Read – I like good fiction. I also sometimes read books that help me put things in perspective. I’m particularly fond of Wayne Dyer’s books. I have friends that also read inspirational articles and books.
- Listen to soothing music. To learn more about relaxing music click here.
- Meditate (Only works for me if I can get my brain to shut up for a few minutes. If I can’t, attempting to meditate adds to my stress.)
- Create a mini-escape with a personal spa day. This is sooooo relaxing. To learn how to have a perfect spa day click here.
For more information on relaxation click here.
Healthy hair tip four – protect your hair from you and the elements
- Avoid harsh chemicals. Always wash hair after swimming in chlorinated water or salty water.
- Protect your hair and scalp from the sun. Your scalp can sunburn and the sun breaks down your hair’s protein. You can use a hat for this purpose or use an SPF 12 or more on your hair. If you use SPF to protect your hair, it will build up on the hair shaft and you will need to remove it with a clarifying shampoo once a week.
- Avoid a hair dryer that’s too hot. You can tell if your dryer is too hot for your hair by holding it about 2 inches from your head. If it becomes uncomfortably hot for your head, it’s too hot for your hair.
- Don’t pull hair tight back with bands or brush excessively. Take care not to tear hair when combing and brushing. Be gentle.
- Don’t over wash hair as this can cause drying and scalp flaking.
- If you must perm which damages you hair, don’t add more injury by perming again too soon. Wait until your hair has grown out. Better yet, find a style that doesn’t require you to perm your hair.
There are good products that you can buy or make that will give your locks added shine and bouncy vibrancy. However, what is most important to long lasting healthy hair is to take good care of your hair by taking good care of your health. This is closely followed by protecting your hair from environmental damage.
Now go have fun and relax.