alexandra-andersson-424642.jpgStrong, healthy hair is a sign of youth. As we age, our hair thins, becomes brittle and falls out, leading to recession in men and overall loss of volume for women. This causes many to look in all areas for hair-loss solutions and ways to artificially boost hair production. While there’s nothing wrong with baldness nor thinning hair, many of us prefer to seek methods of keeping our hair well into our senior years.

While hair loss cannot be completely stopped, preventive measures in diet can be taken to avoid risk factors that lead to hair loss.

What Factors Contribute to Hair Loss?

By age 40, a person’s hair will have significantly changed since high school. In fact, individuals theoretically have their best hair at the age of around 15. Hair loss generally begins anytime after puberty and continues throughout an individual’s life.

Uncontrollable factors like age and genetics can leave individuals at a predisposition to thinning hair; however, other factors like nutrient deficiencies and habits can be easily controlled and greatly affect whether individuals keep thick, strong hair into their mid to later adult years. Factors like stress can be managed through proactive practices.

A Healthy Diet for Strong, Beautiful Hair

Nutrient-dense, plant-based foods are your best friends when it comes to healthy hair. Biotin, zinc, iron and vitamin D are just a few vitamins known for boosting hair production and preventing hair loss. Additionally, a well-balanced diet adequate in protein will leave your hair with the building blocks it needs to stay strong. Some of my favorite foods for preventing hair loss and improving growth include:

Oatmeal is rich in iron, fiber, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids, making this power-packed with the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to get the day started off with the right food. Not only that, oatmeal is a great source of protein and carbohydrates, making this breakfast food a strong ally against hair loss. Have your oatmeal with strawberries for Vitamin C to boost iron absorption.

Cinnamon improves blood circulation, which helps bring oxygen to the cells of the body. This helps keep hair and nails fueled by nutrition and remaining healthy. I like to sprinkle this spice over oatmeal and coffee.

Lentils and Beans contain high levels of protein, zinc, iron, biotin, folic acid and fiber. Folic acid is especially helpful since it restores the health of the red blood cells that supply skin and hair with nutrients.

Sweet Potatoes and other orange foods contain beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A keeps the scalp moisturized and prevents from drying out. Foods like carrots, pumpkins and cantaloupe are also great foods for improving hair strength and growth.

Bok Choy and spinach is packed with iron, a mineral that keeps your hair strong. Leafy greens with lemon works similar to strawberries as the high amounts of Vitamin C work well with foods high in iron. Leafy greens are also generally packed with omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium and calcium as well.

Nuts and Seeds are nutrient-dense, calorie-packed superfoods that are easy to pack as well as great for snacking. Almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios carry a myriad of micro and macronutrients. This assortment of essential foods carry biotin, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and other oils that add to the elastin of the hair, its ability to withstand breakage.

Most importantly, avoid harmful foods like artificial sweeteners and fast food, as these can greatly accelerate hair loss. Additionally, do not use tobacco products. Smoking tobacco has been linked to not only terminal systemic illnesses but will also affect an individual’s appearance as well.

Alternative Ways to Improve Hair Growth

Reduce stress. When the body is severely stressed, it releases cortisol, a hormone that can lead to heart disease, diabetes and an impaired immune system. Excessive and high levels of cortisol can lead to hormone fatigue, which alters the body’s hormone balance.

Commit to working out, reading a book, listening to relaxing music or meditating as forms of stress release. Studies have shown that taking an adequate amount of time to rest allows individuals to perform much better and feel happier.

I’d also like to debunk the myth that over-washing and wearing hats leads to hair loss. While consistent washing can lead to a dry scalp, it depends on the individual’s susceptibility to dry skin and hair that leads to baldness. Furthermore, while wearing hats does not directly cause baldness, scalp infection caused by trapped sebum can lead to hair recession and hair loss.

Maintaining strong, beautiful hair first starts with a healthy diet. Look to your pantry, vegetable drawer and fruit basket for natural remedies to keep you looking youthful even as a respectable adult.

Do you proactively treat your hair? Share some tips in the comments!

Photo by Alexandra Andersson on Unsplash