What makes up Healthy Hair?

What makes up Healthy Hair?
There is probably nothing more attractive than a head of strong, shiny, thick hair. Not only is your mane a matter of pride for you, it is also a sign of good health. But not everyone is blessed with great hair. Many of you may be struggling with problems like premature greying, hair fall, dandruff, thinning hair, dry or damaged hair. Merely switching shampoo brands will not help you. What you need to do is take a hard look at what you are feeding your hair.

What you eat goes a long way in determining the strength and volume of your hair. Nutritional deficiency could show up as dry, dull or brittle hair. In extreme cases, it could also lead to hair loss.  Foods containing biotin are essential for the growth and health of your hair. Other essential nutrients required for healthy hair include, selenium, omega 3, protein, vitamin C, D, vitamin B6 and B12, iron and zinc, all of which can be found in food.

Food that your hair loves

1.  Eggs (if you are not plant-based)
2.  Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel,
3.  Nuts & seeds, especially Brazil nuts, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds
4.  Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach
5.  Milk and dairy products
6.  Spirulina
7.  Foods fortified with vitamin D
8.  Meat, especially liver (if you are not plant-based)
9.  Mushrooms
10. Black beans and lentils
11. Oats
12. Prunes
13. Fruits like avocado and Kiwi
14. Chickpea

When you look at the structure of your hair, you will find that it has two parts, the shaft and the root. The shaft is visible part of hair which sticks out of your scalp and is made of the cuticle, the cortex and the medulla.

The hair root lies below the skin and is surrounded by the hair follicle, a sheath of skin and connective tissue, and is also connected to a sebaceous gland. The root widens to form the hair bulb, which is where new hair cells are formed. On an average, your hair grows around six inches in a year.
Your hair has a specific growth cycle, which is divided into three stages - anagen, catagen and telogen.  The anagen stage lasts for 7-8 years and your hair grows at the rate of 1 centimetre every 28-30 days. At any given point, about 90 per cent of your hair is in this phase. This is followed by catagen or the transitional stage, which lasts about 2-4 weeks. The telogen phase lasts for 2-4 months and signals the start of hair shedding.
Basically, what happens is that your hair is growing and shedding every day. It is estimated that you naturally lose 50-100 strands of hair daily, which is replaced by new hair growing from the same follicle.

However, excessive hair fall can be a cause of great concern. It could be caused by any number of factors like, stress, nutritional deficiency, hormonal imbalance, strong medication, chemotherapy or skin problems. Age is also an important factor. For women, as estrogen levels decrease, hair is likely to thin out.

Common hair loss types

Androgenetic Alopecia – Also known as pattern baldness. It is genetic or hereditary and accounts for 95 percent of cases of hair loss.

Alopecia Areata – Hair loss takes place when the immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss.  It could be induced by stress.

Traction Alopecia – This is hair loss caused by tightly pulled hairstyles. It can be reversed if caught in time.

Telogen Effluvium – This excessive shedding of hair is brought on by extreme emotional or physiological stress or trauma and is reversible.

Anagen Effluvium – Hair loss here is caused due to chemotherapy or certain toxic chemicals.

Hair Shaft Breakage – This is caused by excessive heat, chemicals or tight styling, which could weaken hair shaft and then cause it to break. Usually, it breaks not at the root but mid shaft.

Did you also know that your hair grows from the roots, which is why a healthy scalp is equally important for healthy hair? An unhealthy scalp can lead to dandruff, itchy skin, rashes and bumps. Some common scalp disorders include psoriasis, folliculitis, seb derm and ringworms. Your hair is also a reflection of your blood condition, the stronger your blood condition, the better the hair quality and lesser hair fall.

So if healthy hair is what you are looking for, remember, it all starts with a balanced lifestyle. This includes your diet, sleep and exercise as well as your mental and emotional wellbeing. These are the building blocks for good health.  And your hair is definitely a byproduct of this state of wellness.

Some hair care tips

•   Wash your hair regularly
•   Avoid hot showers
•   Choose a shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type  
•   Treat your hair gently
•   Regularly massage your hair with oil. Nothing to beat a champi
•   If you are going to use chemicals like hair colour, do use a deep conditioning mask
•   Drink lots of water
•   Eat healthy
•   Stay away from stress
•   Quit smoking
•   Do some yoga
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