If you are on a hair growth journey then you have probably heard that hair growth is a scientific process and is directly related to the food you eat and your lifestyle.
If you periodically watch youtube videos on hair growth from your favorite gurus who may produce content on their personal hair growth stories you will hear them mention changes to their diet that really propelled their journey and helped them to meet their goals
In this post, we want to take a comprehensive look at the food groups and what foods you should be eating to encourage maximum hair growth and healthy hair.
Hair grows in cycles and each hair strand is at its own stage of development at any one time. Once the cycle completes the hair sheds and a new cycle begins. Typically hair grows half an inch per month and the food we eat keeps that cycle going. The five food groups Include fruits and vegetables, grains and nuts, protein foods, and dairy but first, let’s talk about water.
If you are looking at food charts or official written documents on food groups you will notice that water is not included or maybe it is lumped into a paragraph under beverages. The importance of water for our overall health and the health of our hair is so critical it deserves its own category.
Water hydrates the body and helps to regulate our circulatory system which is what feeds our hair follicles causing hair growth. We often talk about hydrating the hair strands by spraying them with water and other water-based products but the best way to maintain moisture in our hair is by drinking lots of water daily.
Water hydrates the roots of the hair below the scalp starting the process of healthy moisturized strands even before we start our regimens.
The typical recommendation of water is 8 glasses per day but if you want to get even more accurate you should be drinking according to how much exercise you do and your lifestyle with 8 glasses as a base measurement.
How dehydration affects hair growth
Naturally, the lack of water causes dehydration and dehydration has a direct impact on hair growth because water maintains cell health and cell reproduction. In the simplest terms, cell reproduction is what causes hair growth and without water, the natural growth cycle of every strand will stop and your hair will literally wither away and fall out.
It is very important to be mindful of how much water you are losing on a daily basis and make a concious effort to replace it to avoid dehydration.
Aside from hair growth drinking water can get rid of scalp issues such as dandruff and can help you avoid thinning hair.
It is no myth that a diet low in protein can cause poor hair health because the strand itself is made up primarily of protein.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology
If you do not get enough protein in your diet, your body will begin rationing the protein it does have available, potentially reducing hair growth. That means hair will become older and more tired and brittle over time.
If you have continued low-protein intake, for upward of two to three months, you will start seeing signs of hair loss. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat between 5 and 6 1/2 ounce equivalents of protein foods each day, averaging between 46 and 56 grams of protein.
Ounce equivalents are serving sizes for different protein foods. For example, 1 ounce of meat, 1/4 cup of cooked beans and 1/2 ounce of nuts are all considered a single serving of protein food.
The USDA recommends you eat at least 8 ounces of seafood each week as part of a protein rich diet. Fatty seafood like shrimp, salmon, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that hydrate your hair and keep it strong.
Oysters may be a special occasion type of food but they are the richest source of zinc* and a great source of selenium all very important for healthy hair growth
Iron*-Rich Red meat and poultry
Protein foods from animal and plant sources are rich sources of iron*. Iron* is essential to hair growth and hair loss prevention because they help with the regeneration of red blood cells. Iron*-rich foods include legumes, red meat, dark meat poultry and some seafood.
Other animal products to consider include eggs which are a huge source of biotin* which will be discussed in later sections.
Plant proteins – Beans and lentils
All beans and lentils are rich sources of iron and protein which is essential for hair growth and hair health but lentils in particular are great because they contain folic acid and zinc* essential for cell building.