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Physical Health and Your Hair

Stephen Ramsey

Posted on June 30 2017

Although there are many ways to improve the condition of your hair, the most valuable approach is to start from within.  This means taking care of your diet to absorb the relevant vitamins.

A BALANCED DIET:

If healthy hair starts with a balanced diet then which vitamins and food groups should you choose?  In general, eating a sensible, varied diet of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and dairy – plus lots of water – should improve blood circulation and thus maintain healthy hair growth.

However, there are vitamins that can help your hair. 

Protein and Iron:

Protein deficiency can result in poor hair health.  It is believed that a lack of keratin moves growing hairs into the Telogen or resting phase and this causes hairs to shed from the scalp.

In addition, iron helps the body function in a variety of ways.  It’s an essential part of haemoglobin, the red pigment in our blood that allows it to carry oxygen around the body – including the scalp.  A healthy level of iron intake is recommended.


Foods high in protein include:
 

  • Beans, nuts and legume
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • White and red meats

 

Iron-rich foods:

  • Red meats (the richest source of iron) e.g. beef, kidney, liver
  • Dried fruits e.g. apricots, raisins
  • Eggs
  • Oily fish e.g. tuna, sardines, mussels
  • Iron-fortified cereals
  • Green vegetables 
  • Vitamin C-rich foods e.g. oranges, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts 

Note: many of the above foods are also rich in Vitamin A which, in large doses, can contribute to osteoporosis and/or hair loss.  Always consult your GP if you have any concerns.

Lifestyle Factors:

There are many lifestyle factors that can affect the health of your hair.  Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, the use of recreational drugs and some medications can affect blood flow to the scalp which could lead to hair loss problems.  It’s worth cutting out anything you suspect is bad for you! 

Exercise:

Since hair follicles need a regular supply of oxygen, increasing your level of activity promotes blood flow to the scalp and boosts healthier hair.  Experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.

Always consult your GP before undertaking any fitness regime.

General hair care rules:

We’ve all heard the saying that “prevention is better than cure”.  When it comes to your hair, there are some general rules you can follow to prevent further damage:

  1. Avoid excessive exposure to sun, rain and wind– just like the skin, hair is equally susceptible to damage from the elements.  Wear a hat or hair protection products while on vacation, weekend outings and in the swimming pool.
  2. Minimise chemical treatments (bleaching, perms)– these can cause irreparable damage to the hair shaft. However, in the hands of an expert stylist, it is possible to only touch-up the re-growth, thus minimizing the damage.
  3. Avoid tight ponytails- constantly tying hair back can cause certain types of alopecia.  Make sure you mostly wear your hair loose.
  4. Keep hair hydrated – lack of water causes hair to break.  It’s essential to drink water, avoid too many caffeine drinks and use protein-rich shampoos/conditioner to help improve its overall condition.
  5. Avoid over-styling and heating the hair– this causes the hair shaft to weaken and break.  Allow your hair to dry naturally, wherever possible.
  6. Eat a balanced diet and take regular exercise – remember, stimulating blood flow and oxygen supply is good for your mind, body and scalp as well.

Fun Fact - Did You Know?     

Hair is the fastest growing tissue on the body?

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