It's National Junk Food Month so I thought it'd be appropriate to talk about how these delicious foods can affect your hair. There are soooo many products on the market that claim they help hair growth, but no one ever talks about the actual reason your hair can be pretty crappy. I've had many conversations with clients about what can make their hair grow, what they can do to improve their hair, or prevent hair loss, and my first question is always, "How's your diet?" And that's followed closely by, "Do you drink enough water?"
Here's the thing: whatever you put in your body comes out through your hair. Everything. Ever heard of a drug addict shaving their head to avoid a drug test? That's because the drugs they did months ago would still be lurking in their hair strand. Same goes for food. I'm not sure how often it happens, but I'm pretty sure scientists can tell a lot about our diet if they looked at a single strand of hair on our head.
So what does hair need to grow long, lush, and healthy? Well, first WATER. Just like plants need water to grow, so too does your hair. If you're dehydrated (as most of us are) your hair will become dry and brittle, and may even slow down in growth. How much water should you drink? The old 8-cups-a-day is actually just a guideline. In truth you should be drinking half your body weight, in ounces, per day. So if you weigh 150lbs, you need 75 ounces of water per day to stay healthy. If you don't like water, try amping it up with a little fresh fruit like lemons, oranges, or even berries. Water helps flush toxins from our system and regulates the circulatory system, therefore allowing our hair (and skin) to feel soft and healthy.
Up next is healthy fats. Emphasis on healthy. Eating a block of cheese is not the same as a delicious avocado. Oils rich in natural fats, like olive and coconut, are also great options. Any body builder will tell you that as soon as they start training for a competition they cut fats from their diet, and even sometimes water consumption, and their hair will start to feel dry, brittle, and even fall out. Likewise, "bad" fats, like those from my beloved potato chips, can cause blockage in your hair follicle, reduce blood flow, and increase production of the hormone DHT (which is what causes hair loss). These are saturated fats, and come from animal proteins (especially red meat and dairy by-products) and fried foods. If you're going for dairy fats, make sure you're choosing hormone-free dairy, as hormones are the number one culprit for crappy hair (and not just in food...), and eat them in smaller quantities so as not to negatively affect your hair growth.
This next one should go without saying, but your rainbow of fruits and veggies are the next thing that's critical for healthy hair. Full of essential vitamins and minerals, hair will be shiny and grow like a weed if you're getting your recommended daily allowance of these goodies.
Many of you remember the old food pyramid that was heavy on grains (bottom layer), with veggies, fruits and proteins above that, and fats all the way at the top. Well, the USDA refined that pyramid and made it into a plate! This handy dandy little plate was actually given to me in the form of a kid's plate when my son was little, and it actually was super helpful. I almost wish they made them for adults...
I know this sounds more like a nutrition blog than a hair blog right now, but it is seriously important for healthy hair growth. All those supplements on the market that claim to grow your hair....well, they're just a man made version of the plate above. Maybe you've even made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier. This is even more ammo to tell you that you should. Your hair will thank you.