There are a few factors which influence how your hair looks and feels.
These can include genetics, your environment and, most importantly, your diet.
We’ll touch on the first two briefly in this article, but what we’re focusing on right now are ways in which you can use food and natural supplements to give your hair the best possible chance of looking and feeling its best.
First, let’s ask a simple question: What exactly is hair?
In the simplest terms, hair is formed of a kind of protein called keratin. Keratin isn’t the kind of protein you would expect; it’s tough, and is made to function outside of your body for months at a time.
That alone is a pretty incredible feat considering what most of us put our hair through on a daily basis.
Each hair begins life inside a follicle at a base point called the hair bulb. Blood vessels feed nutrients to the bulb, and from there cells begin dividing to make a hair.
This happens for up to 150,000 hair follicles (the number can vary based on hair color).
Overall, the human body is covered in around 5 million hair follicles, with men having a few hundred thousand more than women.
Once a hair has grown, that’s pretty much all she wrote for that little guy. Your scalp does continue to produce a slightly oily substance called sebum which is needed to protect and lubricate hair, but that has its limits.
If you’re really looking to try and influence the look and feel of your hair, then you’ll want to start on your diet.
Can A Vegan Diet Really Make Your Hair Healthier?
Absolutely it can, although it can be a slow process. Once a hair is out of your scalp and grown, there’s very little you can eat that will affect it, since it’s essentially just a long bundle of protein.
What eating the right kinds of foods does is to prime your entire body and those all-important follicles and bulbs for healthier hair growth next time around. That’s why when you start to eat a more hair-healthy diet, you’ll start to notice real results after the first month or two.
Top 6 Vegan Foods for Healthy Hair
While there are a lot of promises online about what might and might not work for your hair, it really comes down to the basics, especially when the needs of a vegan diet are considered. Here are 6 foods you can start with to help you see results in a few months:
1) Almonds and Almond Butter
There are few foods that are more hair-friendly than almonds. Considering how hair is mostly protein and both skin and hair thrive on the presence of vitamin E, almonds are an excellent choices for getting both in. Just a tablespoon a day is enough to help gradually strengthen newly-forming hair.
Packed with zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium, spinach also helps with that all-important sebum, which acts as a natural lubricant for your hair. Spinach is a true superfood and what it does for your body as a whole will show in your hair.
Oats are high in fiber, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, making them an ideal addition to your diet generally. Yet this is especially the case if you struggle with thin or weak hair. Look for organic oats wherever possible.
This vegan favorite is also loaded with biotin and zinc, which when combined can help to strengthen hair from the roots, making it thicker and more robust.
5) Nuts and Seeds
We’ve mentioned almonds already, but if you’re not a fan of those, check out walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts. As far as seeds, look into sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. They’re all rich in an array of hair-loving vitamins and minerals, along with protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
6) Sweet potatoes
The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes is an awesome defense against dry, dull hair. Try them roasted or replace your regular mashed white potatoes with sweet potatoes instead.
A Few Supplements for Healthier Hair
If you are interested, there are also a supplements you can take for healthier hair, too. Some of the ones aimed at hair specifically are great, but often a little overpriced. All you really need are the basics, including:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
Just make sure to check how the supplements are made to make sure it’s vegan friendly!
Other factors affecting your hair can come from your surroundings. If you travel a lot, then pollution can do a number on your hair, making it appear tired and dull. Smoking and secondhand smoke are also terrible for the health of your hair. Avoid smoke when you can and wear either a hat or bandana when travelling to and from work to protect your hair from the elements. Consider some of our tips for healthy and natural hair, if you’re worried about products and environmental damage.
You’ll want to reduce your stress levels, too. Being stressed out has a body-wide impact, which manifests very visibly in your hair.
Of course, good hair health is a complex topic and will require more research still. For more healthy hair tips, visit Groom+Style’s Art of Hair section.