Healthy hair is the trademark of a healthy body and a reflection of how well you take care of yourself. You might not be able to turn fine, straight hair into thick, wavy locks just by altering your lifestyle. However, you can improve the condition of your hair with a well-balanced diet, proper hair maintenance and by reducing stress.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, a Chicago-based dietitian, says the food you eat provides the foundation for healthy hair. A well-balanced diet is not only good for your body, but it also makes a difference in the quality of your hair. The most important things to remember are to stay hydrated, choose whole foods instead of processed, pre-packaged foods, and eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Protein is the building-block of healthy hair, so include lean chicken, yogurt, milk and eggs in your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and ground flaxseed support scalp health. Green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and Swiss chard promote the production of sebum, hair’s natural conditioner. If you want shiny hair, don’t forget almonds and walnuts. To encourage growth and prevent hair loss, include a handful of sunflower seeds or sliced strawberries on your iron-fortified, whole-grain cereal.
If you want healthy hair, taking care of it from the outside is just as essential as taking care of it from the inside. Rodney Groves, stylist at New York City’s Vartali salon, recommends washing hair two to three times per week so as not to over-strip it of its natural oils. If possible, use a shampoo with natural cleansers. To combat the damaging effects of heat-styling products such as blow dryers and curling irons, apply a deep-conditioning treatment once a week. To prevent breakage when blow drying your hair, finger-comb it until it is mostly dry and then finish it off with a brush. To help distribute natural oils from your scalp, use a brush with natural boar bristles.
Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a psychiatrist with the Mayo Clinic, says too much emotional or physical stress may cause hair loss. Intense stress can even lead to a condition called alopecia areata in which hair stops growing altogether and causes complete baldness. To help combat stress and keep your hair healthy, exercise regularly. Relax with yoga or tai chi. Make sure to get enough sleep at night, and take breaks during the day. If stress is overwhelming, seek help.
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