A NUTRITIONIST'S APPROACH TO GROWING LONG + HEALTHY HAIR

 PHOTO BY KELLY BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY KELLY BROWN PHOTOGRAPHY

If you ask me, beauty is an inside job and it begins with cleaning up the diet. I have been getting quiet a few messages regarding hair growth and thought I would share my tips for growing long, healthy hair. 

I'll be honest, I'm not much of a product girl. I keep it pretty simple when it comes to my beauty routine and if I'm being completely transparent, dry shampoo is my best friend... But, as far as foods go to support healthy hair and skin, I am always up on those. 

Many women struggle with maintaining healthy hair as they get older due to stress, thyroid and hormonal imbalances, protein deficiencies due to insufficient stomach acid, not enough quality fats and likely a diet that is lacking in essential nutrients. 

So what foods help to support healthy hair growth? 

If we're looking strictly at foods, one of my favorite foods for hair health that has received quiet a bit of hype more recently is grassfed collagen. Collagen is the most prevalent protein in your body and therefore serves as a building block for hair, skin and nails. In addition to that, it supports a healthy gut, which is essential for natural beauty. You can purchase my favorite collagen peptides here. Similar to collagen peptides, bone broth also works magic for healthy, glowing hair. Rich in collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline, bone broth is full of healing compounds that support growth and repair. 

In addition to consuming collagen itself, increasing vitamin C consumption will promote endogenous collagen production. Leafy greens, strawberries, citrus fruits, red bell pepper and rose petals are all high sources of vitamin C. 

Good fats are also required for healthy hair. Avocados, coconut, grassfed butter, extra virgin olive oil, almonds and fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines all support strong, healthy hair. Without adequate fats, hair becomes dry, brittle and frizzy. Fats also work to balance hormone and thyroid function, both of which directly impact hair growth. 

ADDRESSING AN UNDERACTIVE THYROID 

Compromised thyroid function is a major contributor to hair thinning. Balancing the thyroid with iodine rich sea vegetables (nori, kombu, kelp, dulse & wakame), adaptogens like maca and removing gluten and dairy from the diet is supportive. Avoid drinking tap water which contains fluorine and chlorine, two chemicals that have a negative impact on thyroid function by inhibiting iodine absorption. Once again, increasing quality protein and fats, while reducing inflammatory foods is key for supporting the thyroid and improving hair growth. You may consider seeking guidance from a holistic practitioner to address thyroid dysfunction through food and supplementation. 

ADDRESSING LOW HYDROCHLORIC ACID 

Another common contributor to hair damage or hair thinning is a protein deficiency. A protein deficiency could be due to insufficient protein in the diet. It could also be due to insufficient hydrochloric acid (aka stomach acid). HCL is responsible for the breakdown of protein. Low HCL production lends itself to a protein deficiency. Weak hair, skin and nails, in addition to bloating 30 minutes after a meal and fatigue are among several symptoms of low HCL. As we age, our HCL production begins to drop.  Stress, sugar and gluten all lower HCL production as well. Taking digestive bitters before a meal, taking raw apple cider vinegar before a meal or even supplementing with HCL are effective remedies for low stomach acid. Reducing stress, getting adequate sleep and eating a whole foods based diet are also crucial habits for optimal stomach acid. 

SPECIFIC NUTRIENTS + SUPPLEMENTATION FOR HEALTHY HAIR

Tocotrienols - tocos or tocotrienols is a bio-available source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is required to repair damaged hair + prevent breakage. 

B vitamins - supplementing with a B Complex helps to rejuvenate the hair follicles. 

Zinc + Silica - two microminerals that are supportive for healthy hair are zinc + silica. Foods rich in zinc include pumpkin seeds, fresh oysters, brazil nuts, eggs, pecans. Foods rich in silica include cucumber, mango, green leafs, beans, celery, asparagus. 

Iron - in addition to zinc + silica, iron is necessary for optimal hair growth. Grassfed red meat, blackstrap molasses, green leafy vegetables, leeks, cashews, dried fruits, figs and berries all contain high levels of iron. That said, women in particular may still acquire an iron deficiency. Supplementing with a quality iron supplement and cooking your food in a cast iron skillet will help to replenish iron stores. I like the product floradix for an herbal based iron supplement. Consider speaking with a holistic practitioner for dosage.

MSM - MSM or methylsulfonylmethane is a precursor to keratin, a protein found specifically in the hair which is responsible for strengthening hair follicles. Leafy greens, asparagus and beets contain small amounts of MSM, but supplementation of quality msm is likely required when working to increase hair growth. 

In closing, beauty truly is an inside job. Weak hair, just like irritated skin, is an indication that something internal is out of balance. Cleaning up the diet, reducing stress and supplementing where necessary is the best approach to achieving beautiful, vibrant hair. 

Xo, E

#EatLikeAGoddess