With all the hair care products on the market promising shiny locks and full, bouncy tresses, it is easy to get overwhelmed with options. Many of us invest in these products because, let’s face it, first impressions matter, happen in the blink of an eye, and sometimes can contribute to that make-or-break moment.
The trick to truly healthy hair has more to do with what goes into your body than styling products and hours spent in front of a mirror. Hair loss, dullness, and hair that refuses to grow often comes from a lack of nutrients or from doing too much of a good thing.
1. Wash hair less frequently. If you wash and condition your hair every time you shower, this one may be tough to swallow. After all, shiny hair and a fresh smelling scalp are modern day hallmarks of good hygiene.
When you wash your hair often, say every day, you actually strip natural oils from the hair. These natural oils are there for a reason; they make hair naturally shiny. These oils, along with a seasonal trim, keep hair growing and prevent the ends from breaking.
Believe it or not, lathering up less often is actually better for your hair! Your hair needs natural oils to boost shine, so try to shampoo every two to three days.
If you notice that going longer than one or two days without washing makes your hair appear stringy and oily, remember that less washing is also about training your hair to accept a new regimen, which could take months.
- Whether it is your hair or skin, constantly stripping natural oils tells your body to produce even more of these oils. So start slow and work your way up to skipping two or three days between washing. Your hair will be healthier and happier.
2. Eat eggs, liver, or both. Eggs, liver, and to a lesser extent, salmon and avocado are all excellent sources of a nutrient called biotin.
- Biotin, sometimes known as vitamin H, is B-complex vitamin B7.
- A deficiency of biotin is associated with brittle hair and nails. Severe biotin deficiency is marked by hair loss.
If you only occasionally eat eggs and liver, that is okay as long as your gut flora is thriving and healthy.
- This is because good bacteria in the small and large intestine make their own biotin.
- While the biotin in the large intestine has little chance of being absorbed and used, biotin that is produced in the small intestine is exactly where it needs to be for optimal absorption.
Not sure where to find hardy beneficial bacteria? Try drinking a few ounces of Body Ecology InnergyBiotic with every meal. A few sips of this fermented beverage on a daily basis guards against gut dysbiosis, which is linked to biotin deficiency.
- Cooking the egg white denatures this protein.
- This is important because biotin binds strongly to avadin.
- Denaturing avadin leaves biotin free for us to absorb.
3. Fish oils: good for the hormones and good for the scalp. Andrea Giancoli, a Los Angeles based dietician, tells her clients that, “Essential omega-3 fatty acids are needed to support scalp health. A deficiency can result in a dry scalp and thus hair, giving it a dull look.” (2)
Not only are omega-3 fatty acids important for your scalp, they also influence hormone production, including the production of thyroid hormones. Many of us know that thinning hair is a classic symptom of hypothyroidism. However, sometimes hypothyroidism has more to do with exhausted adrenals or sluggish pituitary function.
- In order to have a healthy and regulated endocrine system, which includes all of these glands, your body depends on a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids (EFAs) that is high in long chain omega-3 fatty acids.
- Make sure your omega-3 fatty acids come from a quality source.
- If you opt for the less expensive brands or buy from companies that do not provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) upon asking, you could actually make problems worse. Omega-3 oils, whether sourced from flaxseed or cold-water fish, are extremely sensitive to heat, light, and air. These oils can oxidize easily and require special processing methods.
- The omega-3 fatty acids found in Spirulina are the same acids found in chia and flaxseed.
- Spirulina also contains the longer chain omega-3s that are typically only available from animals, such as cold-water fish and fish roe.
4. Increase blood flow. Home remedies to promote hair growth often involve some kind of paste, usually made with ginger, and a scalp massage. In Chinese medicine food therapy books, a topical application is recommended. An ointment is made by soaking 10 g of red chilies in 50 ml of white wine for ten days. After the chilies are strained, the wine is applied to the scalp several times a day. (3)
What do a ginger paste, scalp massage, and a wine treatment infused with red chilies all have in common?
- They promote blood flow and circulation.
- If blood flow is not happening in the scalp, chances are that other extremities also lack proper blood flow.
- In addition to treating the scalp, it is perhaps more important to treat the root of the problem, which is lack of blood flow itself.
Two herbs that are frequently used for brain health and that work extremely well with the vascular system are ginkgo biloba and feverfew. It is best to work with a health care provider when using herbs to address specific concerns.
5. Soak up the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D, which the body can synthesize with enough sun exposure, actually plays a hormonal role in the body. Vitamin D also works to modulate the immune system and is used at varying doses to remedy anything from the common cold to autoimmune flare-ups.
- Influencing both the immune and endocrine systems, perhaps it comes as no surprise that vitamin D is also associated with healthy hair growth follicle cycles. (4)
- Many times autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and endocrine exhaustion, such as adrenal fatigue, are accompanied by hair loss.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
Truly healthy hair starts with your diet, not with the hair care products that you use each day. You can treat hair loss, dullness, and even dry scalp by using the following tips:
- Wash your hair less often to preserve its natural oils and boost shine.
- Eat eggs and liver for healthy doses of biotin to remedy hair loss.
- Take high-quality fish oils to prevent dry scalp and regulate hormone production.
- Increase blood flow with a scalp massage or natural herbs to prevent hair loss.
- Get more vitamin D to boost the immune system and support healthy hair growth cycles.
- Mock DM. Biotin. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins RJ, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:498-506
- Lu, Henry. Chinese Natural Cures. Black Dog & Leventhal: New York. 2005.
- Amor, KT; Rashid, RM; Mirmirani, P (2010). "Does D matter? The role of vitamin D in hair disorders and hair follicle cycling". Dermatology online journal 16 (2): 3.