When most people think about changing their diet, it’s related to their body shape and long-term health. But a well-balanced diet stretches beyond that. Your skin, your nails, your hair, even your body odor are all affected by what you eat. While no amount of salmon is going to act like automatic Rogaine, loading up on certain foods — all of which are part of a healthy diet anyway — will help contribute to healthier, shiner hair that’s less prone to breakage in the long-term. Here’s a look at the foods to add to your diet now to make hair grow faster.
- Tea: Stress is a common contributor to hair loss, and while we all have different ways of handling it, taking a moment to savor a cup of tea is never a bad idea. Chamomile, barley, mint and passionflower are all commonly found, and boast a variety of calming properties.
- Salmon: Salmon is consistently singled out on lists of the healthiest foods. Its high levels of omega-3s in particular are key for helping keep your scalp healthy and hydrated, while its high levels of vitamin D and iron help prevent hair loss (their deficiency is commonly associated with hair loss).
- Protein: Hair is primarily made up of protein (called keratin), so it stands to reason that it’s imperative to have a protein-rich diet for a healthy mane. Eggs, tofu, chicken, beans, lamb, pork, the occasional piece of lean beef — these are all great sources of protein. Beans boast a wide range of other hair-boosting properties, including iron and come in a wide variety of types; ideally mix up the kind of beans you are eating.
- Nuts and seeds: Watch your portions on these as it’s very easy to overindulge. A handful of nuts and seeds added to your diet daily, however, will give you the healthy fats your hair needs. Nuts, especially walnuts, are also rich in biotin, which is commonly prescribed in health food stores as a supplement for healthy hair (as with anything, though, it’s better to get key vitamins, minerals and nutrients directly from food).
- Dark, leafy greens: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard — these are all high in vitamins, folate and beta carotene, known to help with sebum production to naturally condition hair.
- Blueberries: Like salmon, blueberries consistently come out on top as one of the best foods for overall health. For hair loss in particular, they are rich in vitamins that have been shown to help fight hair breakage.
- Oysters: While they’re best known as aphrodisiacs, oysters are rich in zinc which helps produce androgen, a hormone that helps combat hair loss. They’re also rich in protein, iron, omega fatty acids and calcium all of which will work to strengthen your mane.
- Yellow pepper: Vitamin C works to prevent breakage by strengthening hair. It also helps produce collagen, key for hair follicles (bonus: it’s also great for skin). While oranges are often touted as a Vitamin C goldmine, yellow peppers actually have considerably more (and they’re way lower in sugar!).
- Eggs: A great source for protein, eggs are also rich in biotin, which is key for hair growth and overall scalp health.
- Sweet potato: These are a great source of Vitamin A. Note, however, that while a deficiency in Vitamin A will cause hair loss and dandruff, if you have too much it can cause hair loss as well. If you’re taking a multivitamin, make sure to check the level of Vitamin A (nutritionist Joy Bauer recommends looking for one with no more than 50 percent DV of Vitamin A).
- Avocado: There are so many way to load up on this fruit, which is rich in essential fatty acids. The high fat content of avocados works to strengthen hair both when you eat them and when you apply it topically. Avocados also contain Vitamin A and C.
You’ll want to bear in mind, however, that while all of the above mentioned foods will help boost the health of your hair and make hair grow faster if eaten consistently, there is no one magic wand to fix your hair with a quick bite. The most important thing you can do to encourage hair growth is to get a handle on your stress levels and eat a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, lean protein, and low in sugar and processed foods. Good hair products designed specifically for your type of hair are also key, and always protect your hair from the sun and heat styling with a spray like this.