Nourish - 12 Foods for Strong Healthy Hair Growth
The secret to strong, healthy shiny hair isn’t an expensive shampoo or fancy hair salon treatment—it’s down to what you eat.
Nutrition plays a huge role in the health of your hair, and so the answer to getting a healthy mane is to ensure you’re eating a variety of healthy foods.
Many people pay large amounts of money to hair salons or on expensive products to wash, cut, colour, straighten, blow dry, curl and shine their tresses; and although these do provide the instant gratification or ‘quick fix’ where results may be seen in a matter of minutes or weeks, this doesn’t necessarily mean the hair is healthy.
Your hair is fundamentally dead protein fibres, with the only living part just below the surface of your skin.
If you are experiencing weak or brittle hair, hair loss, slow growing hair, a dry scalp, or any other problems with your flowing locks or scalp, it may be a sign of a deeper problem, like a nutrient deficiency, or that you’re using too much product or damaging it from over-heating it with blow dryers, curlers or straighteners. ***
For the healthiest of tresses, start from the root up and feed your hair!
I’ll warn you now though that hair actually takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months before you see a difference from the foods you eat. But rest assured, your patience will be rewarded.
Fill up on these nutrients to nurture your locks, nourish that scalp and start growing your healthiest hair yet!
No. 1 – Essential Fatty Acids (Omega Oils)
Your body can’t make these healthy fats by itself, which is why it is essential for you to get them from your food or through supplementation.
Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have incredible beauty benefits, like helping your body grow and maintain healthy, shiny hair, as well as giving you gorgeous glowing skin.
These good fats help keep your hair and scalp hydrated and well nourished, which helps to prevent your hair and scalp from becoming dry, flaky, itchy and damaged.
Find these oils in hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; walnuts, green leafy veggies and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Supplements including fish oil, krill oil, hemp oil, flax oil, Udo’s Choice oil and algae oil are also available.
No. 2 – Dark Green Vegetables (and leafy greens)
Dark green veggies supply an abundance of nutrients, including plenty of beta-carotene, iron, folate and vitamin C. These vitamins all work together in helping to maintain a healthy scalp and mane.
These nutrients are very important when it comes to scalp health and the production of sebum, the natural oily conditioner secreted by our hair follicles.
The vitamin C in particular is hugely helpful in preventing hair breakage, whilst the beta carotene, (which converts into the powerful anti-aging vitamin A) is necessary for all cell growth including hair cells.
Try adding the following veggies to your next meals:
Kale, spinach, collard greens, cabbage, turnip greens, beetroot leaves, broccoli, romaine, rocket, watercress, lettuce, bok choy, chard, dandelion leaves, mustard leaves.
No. 3 – Orange Fruits and Vegetables
Again we come back to the benefits of beta-carotene, the antioxidant known to help keep hair hydrated, shiny, and growing strong!
The body transforms this phytonutrient into vitamin A which is essential for scalp health, helping to reduce dandruff and bring dull, dry, lifeless hair back to existence by encouraging the glands in your scalp to make the oily fluid called sebum that keeps hair from drying out.
Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, as are sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mangoes and cantaloupes.
No. 4 – Nuts
It doesn’t take much to encourage anyone who shops in Nourish to increase their nut consumption, because honestly, I’ve seen those kilogram tubs of almond butter disappear within a matter of minutes once they go on the shelf! However, I’ll go on none the less!
Nuts are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamin E and minerals. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pecans are rich in zinc which keeps hair from shedding; walnuts boast omega oils which help the body retain moisture, giving your mane a healthy-looking shine, plus vitamin E and biotin; whilst Brazil nuts are one of the richest sources of selenium, a mineral linked to scalp health. Selenium also helps keep dandruff at bay.
Have you made your own nutmilk? Or attempted making your own nut butters?
Maybe try whipping up some homemade muesli and adding a different nut with each batch, or simply stirring some nut butter in to your porridge in the morning.
No. 5 – Seeds
Hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds are not only rich in omega 3 fatty acids, but they’re choc-a-bloc full of a multitude of other health loving nutrients too, including protein, vitamins A, C and E, B vitamins and vitamin K.
They’re also brimming with minerals like magnesium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and copper to name but a few.
All of these nutrients are essential for building healthy hair shafts, nourishing and hydrating the scalp and hair, strengthening your mane and promoting healthy hair growth.
Try adding more seeds and their oils to your diet by including a teaspoon or two of hemp/chia/flax oils into your smoothies, or into salad dressings; or sprinkle the seeds into your breakfasts, lunches or dinners, mixed into bread recipes or baked goods.
I love to throw a handful of hemp seeds on top of my porridge and smoothies, and I like to replace eggs with flax or chia eggs in my baking.
You can also add them to trail mixes so you can nibble on them during the day or when you’re out on a family adventure somewhere; or you can make them into raw snack bars or energy balls.
Have you tried making a chia pudding yet? Do it – you’ll love it!
No. 6 – Whole Grains
Grains such as oats, whole brown rice or even pseudo grains like quinoa or amaranth are crammed full of B vitamins, zinc, iron, biotin, magnesium and potassium plus hair loving protein to help boost hair follicles, making hair fuller and stronger.
A deficiency in these key nutrients can lead to brittle hair that’s more prone to breakage, so boosting your levels will help you on your mission to strong and healthy hair.
How about trying overnight oats, making your own granola or muesli, creating an amazing Paella or attempting quinoa sushi?
No. 7 – Beans, Legumes, and Lentils
Protein is the building block of healthy hair, so you want to make sure you’re supplying your body with it via excellent sources like beans, legumes and lentils.
They’re also full of a multitude of vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and biotin to aid hair growth and encourage stronger, thicker, most lustrous hair.
Think creamy hummus, Indian spicy dhal, three bean salads and Shepardess pie (made with lentils instead of meat).
No. 8 – Coconut
From the water through to the oil of the beloved coconut, the whole package is a hair-care dream. Coconut water is a fantastic natural hydrator, containing an abundance of electrolytes including potassium which helps to move nutrients into our cells.
Staying hydrated is also a key way to ensure a healthy scalp and to prevent your locks from drying out.
Coconut oil is a great source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals and is one of the best natural scalp moisturisers for your hair, boosting growth and shine.
You can reap the benefits of coconut oil both internally and externally to condition, repair, rehydrate, and strengthen your hair.
Simply add to your smoothies, replace butter in frying and baking, add to raw desserts or use as a hair mask.
No. 9 – Avocado
What would life be without avocadoes?!
Once known as poor man’s butter, avocadoes have a unique nutritional profile, containing heaps of fibre and a multitude of vitamins and minerals, such as B-vitamins, vitamin K, potassium, copper, vitamin E and vitamin C.
They also contain vitamin B5 which has been shown to help prevent your greying.
As with coconuts, avocadoes can also be used externally as well as internally. Simply massage the oil into the scalp and/or through the hair for a good hair mask and then wash out with shampoo after a few minutes, or overnight.
No. 10 – Bananas
Thanks to their high density of nutrients, bananas are wonderful at helping to strengthen weak, dry, brittle or damaged hair.
They’re a good source of nutrients including vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, potassium, manganese, magnesium, biotin, copper, protein, fibre and healthy carbs.
In particular, bananas are full of B6, and it’s worth noting that a deficiency in this B vitamin has shown to result in thinning hair.
B6 also aids in the absorption of nutrients and the production of red blood cells needed to nurture hair follicles.
Add them to smoothies, chow down on them as they are, or find other tasty ways to add them to your diet like Deliciously Ella Raw Banoffee pie. Yuuum!
No. 11 – Berries
Berries are abundant in vitamins, minerals and hair loving antioxidants. These antioxidants help to protect cells from damage and keep hair healthy, strong and vibrant.
They have even been shown to prevent premature greying and thinning.
The powerful antioxidant vitamin C helps to contribute to the creation of collagen, an important connective tissue used in bones, skin, and hair which helps prevent the hair from splitting and breaking.
Berries are rich in B complex vitamins which helps to increase hair growth by improving the blood circulation and oxygenation within the body, specifically the scalp.
We’re talking strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries; even goji and acai. Snack on them, add them to muesli, porridge, fruit crumbles, and beverages or preserve them.
No. 12 – Spices and Herbs
Spices like cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, ginger, coriander help to boost your circulation, encouraging the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles.
Herbs such as rosemary, chamomile and horsetail are excellent for drinking and washing your hair with too.
Rosemary is excellent for helping to prevent dandruff and hair loss, whilst also working as a great circulatory stimulant when gently massaged in to your scalp.
Combining a drop or 2 of rosemary essential oil (and/or a drop of ginger)with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil, then gently massage this into your scalp for some circulatory boost.
Chamomile is a wonderful soothing herb, so rinse your scalp/hair with this herbal infusion to sooth the scalp, especially if it’s itchy or sunburnt.
Horsetail is high in the nutrient silica, where research has shown it may help promote hair growth and strength and may also be beneficial for hair loss, dandruff, and split ends.
Drinking Horsetail tea and/or washing the hair with shampoo containing horsetail extract may be effective to achieve dandruff free nourished, strong, lustrous, and rejuvenated hair.
These herbs and spices, among many others that you can grow in your gardens or purchase from a shop, are simply loaded with a whole bunch of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants with hair benefiting qualities.
For more info in to any of these foods, herbs or spices, I encourage you to do your research and discover ways in which you can incorporate them in to your diet.
Of course, it’s not all solely down to your diet and nothing else.
If you eat heaps of bananas and knock back fish oils, yet still bleach your hair every 2 weeks, your hair is not necessarily going to be beaming with health.
Be conscious of what you’re putting on and doing to your hair and try to make an informed decision.
*** If you are experiencing sudden and/or extreme hair loss, a skin rash or any major change, please speak to a registered health practitioner.
These may be caused by hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems or a reaction to your shampoo or hair dye, so it’s best to check it out.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication