After all, healthy hair is an important sign of a healthy body
What you eat to nourish yourself from the inside works on the outside too. This is a fact that’s only been proven time and again thanks to health food trends, self-care rituals and the popularity of cleanses. Your hair and skin are largely affected by your diet—you can try every kind of external treatment but the best way to naturally boost their health is with the help of food. We spoke to celebrity-favourite Luke Coutinho, holistic lifestyle coach in Integrative Medicine, and Sneha Jhaveri, owner of Vous Salon, Mumbai, and co-founder of natural beauty brand Sova Care, for their top recommendations on what to eat when dealing with sudden hair loss—and here’s what we found.
“The health of our hair is mostly an inside out approach,” believes Coutinho. “While losing a couple of strands is normal, when our hair starts to fall or shed in bunches, it mostly points to an underlying nutrient deficiency, a lifestyle factor like excessive stress, poor sleep, or habits like smoking and drinking. More often than not the condition of our hair and skin can be indicative of the state of the body on the inside. Hence nutrition plays a pivotal role in reversing hair loss.” Jhaveri agrees, “The right kind of foods are extremely important for healthy hair and skin. There are several very advanced treatments in the market, but they cannot substitute the right foods.” So which foods should you include in your diet to tackle hair loss concerns? Scroll ahead to find out.
“This is a common ingredient in the Indian kitchen that is great for general health and particularly hair,” says Coutinho. “It’s a rich source of beta-carotene, proteins, iron, calcium, Vitamin C and phosphorus. Not only do curry leaves prevent hair fall, they also impede premature greying. Curry leaves can be added as a tempering to a variety of dishes, chutneys and buttermilk. A few curry leaves can also be added to your daily vegetable juice, or chewed as is.”
Jhaveri is an advocate of this common salad ingredient. “They contain silica, which is extremely important to absorb vitamins and minerals. You could be consuming vast amounts of vitamins and minerals, but their absorption will be not be possible for the body without silica. Bean sprouts are also very high in folate, which is important to increase hair growth and reduce hair fall. They are best consumed as a salad or as a part of your breakfast,” she says.
According to Coutinho, beetroot is “an amazing root vegetable and has the capacity to boost blood circulation towards the scalp, thanks to the presence of nitric oxide which acts as a vasodilator. It also helps in fighting free radical damage by providing antioxidant support. Oxidative stress is one of the primary causes of hair fall. Beetroots can be consumed as a juice, soup, salad or in the form of roasted vegetables.”
“Asparagus is rich in folic acid, which is a kind of Vitamin B that helps the body absorb more proteins,” says Jhaveri. “This, in turn, helps hair to grow faster, and prevents it from falling.”
Coutinho emphasises on the importance of proteins for healthy hair. “Keratin, a protein, is the key structural material that our hair is made up of. However, both over-consumption or under-consumption of protein can lead to hair fall. Ensure that you include good quality of proteins in your diet. The combination of rice and lentils is a perfect source of protein and can do wonders for hair. Other sources of protein rich foods are nuts, seeds, organic and hormone-free eggs, chicken and fish. These foods are also rich in Biotin (Vitamin B7), which is another important nutrient for hair health.” Jhaveri agrees and sides with the vegetarian-friendly paneer. “Cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and protein. It also contains whey protein and casein, which aid strong and healthy hair. Cottage cheese is best consumed before a workout.”
This millennial-favourite fruit (yes you read that right; avocados are fruits!) is part of Jhaveri’s list of foods that are beneficial for hair loss issues. “Avocados are rich in Vitamins B and C, which help to stimulate the hair follicle and prevents hair fall. They also contain monosaturated fats that help to moisturise the scalp and keep the hair naturally conditioned and shiny. It is best consumed as a fruit with mild seasoning.”
“If the red blood cell count is low in our body, chances are that you may suffer from hair fall,” says Coutinho. “Thus, one should look at including iron-rich foods such as dates, nuts and seeds, garden cress seeds, spinach, lentils and lemons in their nutrition plan. Iron-rich foods are best consumed in combination with Vitamin C. For example, sprinkle lemon juice over green leafy vegetable dishes. Another point to make a note of is that caffeine and tannins inhibit iron absorption. So it’s best to maintain a gap between your meals and your evening tea or coffee.
“Oats help to retain the original colour of the hair, as they aid in creating melanin,” says Jhaveri. “They are also packed with magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron, which help to boost hair growth. The packet instant oats need to be stayed away from, as they are packed with chemicals and preservatives. I am referring to the raw, steel-cut variety. Oats need to soaked preferably in curd or milk for 45 mins, after which nuts of fruits can be added and enjoyed. This makes for a great breakfast or midday snack.”
“Onion contains catalase, an enzyme that not only prevents hair fall, but also premature greying,” says Coutinho. “It is also rich in sulphur, which is the main ingredient of melanin. Drinking its juice or having it as a part of salad is the best way to consume onion. Its juice can also be directly applied to hair.”
Jhaveri vouches for these seeds as they are rich in Omega-3 and iron. “Both of these are very important to support the overall health of the scalp and hair. They are best consumed as a powder, added to your soup or dal.”