Expert Speak: Foods You Must Include in Your Diet for Healthy Hair

Shilpa Arora  |  Updated: September 20, 2017 17:24 IST

Expert Speak: Foods You Must Include in Your Diet for Healthy Hair
The desire of physical beauty is deeply ingrained in the human psyche: It really does not matter what age, gender or what culture you belong to. It is a global phenomenon and a primal one. These days, our society almost worships beauty and is obsessed with appearing youthful like no other time in history. Like your skin, your hair are also like accessories that you wear every day. So it's understandable that our identities are sometimes wrapped in the visible parts of our anatomy.

More than anything, they are also telling you how well you are feeding yourself and looking after all aspects of your health. If you are not eating right, it is your hair and skin that scream out first by giving you signals like dullness, thinning, dryness, hair fall and of course all this is very distressing.


On an average we have 100,000 hair follicles on our head. At any given point of time, the number of hair that are ready to fall out are somewhere about 50-100 every day. Over time, the number of hair follicles that our hair produces start to decrease, and by the time we reach the age of about 45-50 we may have only 250-300 active hair follicles, hence we notice thinning of hair as we age.

But it's not as simple as that, our hair follicles also get affected by so many other factors like:

-Negligence of nutrition in our diet

- Hormones

- Menopause

- Thyroid condition can affect the growth

- Sensitive effects of the male hormone (androgens) which are present in both men and women. (These androgens cause thinning of hair and because men have a higher concentration of this hormone we see them going bald and not women typically).

- Additionally if you are taking any medication or have had a sudden illness or surgery, the first thing you might see is your hair getting affected.

The good news is that your hair and skin are very receptive to good nutrition and if you give your body the right tools, you will see very quick results e.g.: People who have anemia, or the ones who have been ignoring good quality nutrients and been on crash diets forever, always complain of hair fall and dull, dry, lifeless hair. If you deprive yourself of essential nutrients, further you will see that your hair is getting lighter, thinner and finally your body stops producing hair as it needs to preserve its energy for the more important functions of your body.

You can do as much as you please by applying all the fancy cosmetics or shampoos, but the underlying fact remains that your hair needs the support of a very healthy diet, to bounce back.


Food rich in Cysteine: Most of the proteins we eat are made up of different types of amino acids. Keratin however, is made up largely of a single amino acid: cysteine. The molecules present in cysteine are linked together, by a strong bond and this bond gives strength to the hair. So when we eat foods that are rich in this amino acid it automatically helps the strength of the hair and also helps it grow faster.

Foods that are rich in cysteine:

- Onions

- Garlic

- Dairy products

- Broccoli

- Oats

- Wheat germ

- Red Peppers

- Egg yolks

- Poultry

Fermented Foods: These are ideal foods for the hair, like yoghurt, kefir, pickles and miso. Miso is very beneficial as it is made of soybeans, whole grain and salt which are made to ferment for months. This in turn, help get the rich living enzymes that nourish the body and hair.

- Eat foods rich in silicon: Silicon is a natural element found in the earth. It's great to support the structure and health of our hair and very essential for bone formation.

The best dietary sources for silicon are:

- Green beans, (they are one of the richest source of silicon)

- Spinach

- Wholegrain/lentils

- Beer (now that's interesting) you can also give your hair a beer wash to get it glowing.

- Eat zinc and iron: Low levels of these nutrients have been linked to thinning of hair. Zinc is essential for producing keratin. Add red meat to your diet as it's an excellent source of zinc and iron. Pumpkin seeds are very rich in zinc; add a handful at snack time every day.

- Eat Sea Vegetables: Most important for maintenance of one's hair health is having small amounts of sea weeds or sea plants. These are rich in calcium (essential for the hair shaft), phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, copper (which aids in giving color to the hair), selenium and bromine. Such abundance of resources in sea vegetables are great for our hair.

A final word on foods to avoid for the sake of your hair are extreme foods like: caffeine, sugar, refined and processed breads, pastas and alcohol. These break apart the keratin molecules. As a result, the hair grows brittle, damaged and finally break; leaving hair looking lifeless and starved of nutrients.

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Like our skin, our hair health is also a barometer to determine our internal health. When life in our internal environment is balanced, our hair is happy, strong, shiny and healthy.


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