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Diet and Hair Growth

Just as your overall health benefits from eating a balanced diet, so too does your hair. The food you eat contains the building material your body needs to grow. If you eat a healthy diet, you will grow stronger and healthier cells throughout your body and that includes your hair.

Here are the top 10 foods that experts say will help prevent hair loss and promote hair growth.

No. 1 Food to Grow Hair: Fish

Fish such as salmon and hoki provide high-quality proteins. They are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a healthy scalp and hair growth. If you don't get enough, it can result in a dry scalp and hair, giving it a dull look.

Note for Vegetarians: You can get some plant-based omega-3 fatty acids by including one or two tablespoons of ground flax seed in your daily diet.

No. 2 Food to Grow Hair: Nuts

Sometimes it's okay go nuts, especially if you want thick, shiny hair. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that is believed to help condition hair. They are also a great source of zinc, as are almonds, cashews, and pecans. A zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss so make sure nuts are a regular part of your diet. Another nut to consider is the Brazil nut. It is one of nature's best sources of selenium, which is an important mineral for maintaining a healthy scalp.

No. 3 Food to Grow Hair: Dark Green Vegetables

Dark green vegetables provide both iron and calcium. Spinach also provides vitamins A and C, which your body needs to produce sebum. That's the oily substance secreted by your hair follicles. It's your body's natural hair conditioner.

No. 4 Food to Grow Hair: Poultry

Chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys all have high-quality protein that provides nutrients that will help you keep a healthy head of hair. The lack of this type of protein can cause weak, brittle hair. A profound deficiency of this protein can even result in the loss of hair color,

No. 5 Food to Grow Hair: Legumes

And yes, that includes beans. Legumes like kidney beans and lentils provide nutrients that your body uses in growing hair. Not only do they provide protein but they are also good sources of iron, zinc, and biotin. Although rare, biotin deficiencies can result in brittle hair.

According to the American Dietetic Association, your diet should include three or more cups of lentils or beans each week.

No. 6 Food to Grow Hair: Whole Grains

Whole grains provide zinc, iron, and B vitamins, which are needed for healthy hair growth. These include whole-wheat bread and fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals.

No. 7 Food to Grow Hair: Eggs

How do you like your eggs? It really doesn't matter whether you like them boiled, scrambled, or fried. They are one of the best sources of protein you can find. Eggs also contain vitamin B-12 and biotin, which are important nutrients for hair growth.

No. 8 Food to Grow Hair: Low-Fat Dairy

Low-fat dairy products like skim milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium, whey, and casein, all-important nutrients for hair growth.

You can add some verity to your yogurt or cottage cheese by adding a couple of tablespoons of ground flax seed or nuts for additional omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. This also makes a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

No. 9 Food to Grow Hair: Oysters

Although oysters are better known for their reputation as an aphrodisiac, they can also contribute to growing a healthy head of hair. Oysters contain zinc, which is a powerful antioxidant. For those who do not like oysters, you can still get zinc from whole grains, nuts, beef, and lamb.

No. 10 Food to Grow Hair: Carrots

Carrots are beneficial for more than just maintaining good eyesight. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, which promotes a healthy scalp and hair growth. Carrots are also good for snacks as well as toppings on salads.

Supplements

Although there are many supplements sold to promote hair growth, experts recommend you try to get the nutrients you need from whole foods whenever possible. And beware of dietary supplements that are marketed to thicken hair or make it grow faster. In rare cases they may backfire. Too much of some nutrients, such as vitamin A, have been linked to hair loss.

Sources

From Get Healthy Now!: A Complete Guide to Prevention, Treatment, and Healthy Living by Gary Null, page 851: "My study in reversing hair loss did not rely on phytochemicals alone, but was holistic in scope. The program overcomes the genetic threshold through a multiple assault on the problem, by removing stress and doing exercise, becoming vegetarian, and detoxing by removing bad food.

From Home Remedies What Works by Gale Maleskey and Brian Kaufman, page 235: Researchers have also discovered that inositol prevents hair loss in animals. So far, however, there are no studies documenting the same effect in people. The vitamin is found in beans, fruits, grains and nuts.

From Natural Health Secrets by Glenn W Geelhoed MD Jean Barilla MS, page 137: Premature baldness can be caused by nutrient deficiencies - and in these cases, it can be reversed.

From Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 403: "Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in starch. This may help to slow down the process of hair loss. Fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids, many of which are antioxidants that may provide protection for the hair follicles and encourage hair growth."

From Ancient Healing Secrets By Dian Dincin Buchman PHD, page 83: In the days of the pharaohs, the Egyptians had developed a great skill in the use of herbs, and their herbal traditions were kept alive by the Copts, early Christians who were their direct descendants. The ancient Egyptians used an oil made from seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), while the Copts employed the root of the plant. The Copts crushed the root in water, allowed it to steep for some time, strained out the root, and applied the remaining water as a wash to the head. Other peoples from the Far East generally applied castor oil directly to the hair as a treatment to halt hair loss and to promote the growth of new hair. Castor oil treatments were sometimes alternated with slathering the scalp with aloe vera juice, olive oil, equal amounts of rosemary tea and olive oil, onion juice, or onion juice mixed with honey. Directions: Apply any of these concoctions to the scalp before bed and cover with a plastic wrap to protect the bedclothes. Rinse your hair thoroughly each morning.

From New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine, page 335: For men, Dr. Klaper says that a low-fat diet may help slow down the balding process. "On some level, male pattern baldness might be tied to increased testosterone levels during puberty, which are often the result of a high-fat diet or eating too many animal products," says Dr. Klaper. "If you look at Japan, male pattern baldness was almost unheard of prior to World War II. The Japanese diet is now far more fatty and Westernized, and Japanese men are going bald everywhere. It's clear that a high-fat, meat-based diet raises testosterone levels, and that may adversely affect hair follicles. I'm not sure eating low-fat foods will stop hair loss, but it might slow it down."

From Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD, page 222: "Acute deficiency may cause hair loss or thinning, dermatitis, and decreased growth. Both poor appetite and digestion are also experienced by adults with zinc deficiency. Loss of taste sensation may occur, as can brittleness of the nails or white spots on the nails, termed leukonykia. These and most other symptoms can be corrected with supplemental zinc. Sulfur may be helpful as well. Skin rashes, dry skin, and delayed healing of skin wounds or ulcers may result from zinc deficiency, and stretch marks, called striae, are also produced by this condition. Zinc and copper are both needed for cross-linking of collagen, and when they are low, the skin tissue may break down."

From Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD, page 404: "All forms of undereating, skipping meals, or eating only limited foods will lead to poor nutrition and eventually, to problems from protein, calorie, vitamin, or mineral deficiencies. Other symptoms include lack of energy and subsequent weakness, malnourishment of internal organs, skin problems, and hair loss. Severe weight loss in spite of regular eating may indicate an underlying medical condition and warrants an evaluation by a doctor."

From The Clinicians Handbook Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 40: Results of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that long-term oral therapy with daily doses of 18,000 IE retinol, 70 mg L-cystine and 700 mg gelatin led to an improvement of diffuse hair loss relative to controls.

From Vitamin And Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler MD PhD, page 82: Prevents hair loss and graying of hair-Perhaps because pantothenic acid deficiency in rats leads to graying of hair and loss of hair, many manufacturers have added pantothenyl alcohol (panthenol) to hair conditioners and other hair treatment products. There is anecdotal evidence that pantothenic acid can restore some color to human hair and prevent or slow its loss, but these claims have not been tested in scientific studies.

From Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford, page 350: "Americans have the greatest incidence of baldness of any people; this is understandable since hair loss is tied to high-fat, high-protein diets, which damage the kidneys and create acidic blood. Meat and dairy, besides being high in fat and protein, are also generally considered "sweet" in Oriental medicine. Considering the additional sweets, desserts, and sugar-laced foods and drinks in which Americans indulge, we can see that the sweet flavor dominates the typical diet. The Inner Classic cautions that too much sweet-flavored food makes the head hair fall out. A further caution from this ancient text: "Too much salt damages the blood [and therefore the hair]." As discussed in the Salt chapter, excessive salt is consumed by Americans, nearly all of it highly refined."

From Smart Medicine For Healthier Living by Janet Zand LAc OMD Allan N Spreen MD CNC James B LaValle RPh ND, page 314: "Avoid consuming excessive amounts of animal fats, animal proteins, and salt. This may help delay hair loss in men prone to male pattern baldness."

From Smart Medicine For Healthier Living by Janet Zand LAc OMD Allan N Spreen MD CNC James B LaValle RPh ND, page 315: "If you are experiencing hair loss, have a hair analysis done to uncover any nutritional deficiencies or toxic metal contamination. As hair is formed, available minerals and amino acids circulating in the blood are laid down in the hair."

From Natures Medicines by Gale Maleskey, page 457: "Not all hair loss is inevitable, however, nor is the decline entirely controlled by genes. Stress, hormone changes, and vitamin or mineral deficiencies can lead to fast fallout. Moreover, you're likely to lose hair faster if your hair follicles become inflamed or if you get skin disorders that affect your scalp."

From Symptoms Their Causes and Cures by The Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books, page 222: "Lack of protein, although not generally a problem for well-fed Americans, can force hair into a resting phase, leading to hair loss."

From New Choices In Natural Healing by Prevention Magazine: For women, thinning hair or hair loss can be a sign of a problem in the gastrointestinal tract, says Michael A. Klaper, M.D., a nutritional medicine specialist in Pompano Beach, Florida, and director of the Institute of Nutritional Education and Research, an organization based in Manhattan Beach, California, that teaches doctors about nutrition and its relationship to disease. "Occasionally, it's a sign of insufficient stomach acids or that she's not absorbing protein, zinc and other nutrients," he says. "If she takes acidophilus after meals for a month or so, that often helps." Dr. Klaper recommends nondairy powdered acidophilus, available in most health food stores. He says to take two tablets between meals (four to six tablets per day) for at least two months.

From Choices In Healing by Michael Lerner, page 612: Vitamin E has a wide range of positive effects in cancer particularly vitamin E succinate. It also may help prevent hair loss, and it protects the heart (in animal studies) from cardiac toxicity from doxorubicin.

From Anti-Aging Prescriptions by James Duke PhD, page 393: Asia, red sage has a reputation as a hair restorer and hair-care helper. I can't vouch for the former claim, but the latter is supported by the fact that extracts of red sage are used in several shampoos.




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