Those 'you're worth it' ads don't work for everyone. All those hard-to-pronounce chemicals do not pamper all types of hair. And to top it all, the rising pollution and heat do a great job... at damaging my hair. My scalp is oily and sensitive, so if anything goes wrong, I'll have clusters of hair in my hand and chemicals are obviously a big no-no for me. How do I then, keep them healthy?
Well, I research, apply and observe!
Much like our skin and body, our hair growth and type also depends on our genes but this does not mean, we can't do anything to improve our hair health. A lot depends on our lifestyle. You drink and eat junk, it'll show. You live a healthy and hydrated life, your skin will do the talking. It's the same for hair. And in the case of hair fall, the scalp needs an equal amount of pampering. Each hair strand is made of a tough protein called keratin and to keep them healthy, you need to consistently nourish them with minerals and vitamins.
So firstly, I made a few lifestyle changes and then, focused on the foods known to benefit hair health for a month. And here's what happened.
Issues: hair fall, dandruff, rough and shineless hair, split ends and hair breakage.
Nutrients that are important for scalp and hair health: vitamin-E, zinc, biotin (B vitamins), vitamin A and C, omega-3, calcium, iron, protein, copper.
One lifestyle change I made: I used to wash my hair twice a week but later I discovered my scalp is too oily. So I started washing my hair every alternate day using a chemical-free shampoo. I used Patanjali Milk Protein Hait Cleanser (Rs 98) for a while and then I switched to Kama Ayurveda's Himalayan Deodar Hair Cleanser (Rs 1,250) as Patanjali was making my hair tips too rough.
Nutrition facts: Sunflower seeds and cashew are a good source of biotin. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc. Flaxseeds are a great source of Omega-3 oils for vegetarians. Quinoa, which is consumed as a grain, is also rich in protein. Almond has a lot of vitamin-E and walnuts add elastin to the hair.
How I consumed it: I mixed all the seeds together and all the nuts together and ate them in the morning every day. I made sure that my body is getting at least 4-5 nuts of each type and one teaspoon of mixed seeds.
Nutrition facts: This buttery fruit is rich in vitamin-E which is good for blood circulation.
How I consumed it: I didn't eat it every day but thrice a week. It's a filling fruit so everyday consumption reduces the chances for other fruits. In summers I found it easy to consume as avocado feels soothing, not exactly mint-cool, but soothing.
Nutrition facts: Greens like spinach are rich in omega-3 acids, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Cucumber has vitamin A and C.
How I consumed it: I couldn't eat spinach every day so I included other greens in my daily diet which suit summers such as mint and cucumber. I consumed mint in the form of dip every day and made cucumber a part of my salad plate.
Nutrition facts: Indian Gooseberry aka Amla is the first thing my mother mentions when I talk about my hair problems because it's a rich antioxidant which helps our hair shine and nourishes them.
How I consumed it: I took one spoon every day of it in the liquid form first thing in the morning. You can buy a bottle from Patanjali store or shots from Kiva. Kiva shots are travel-friendly so you can take them to work with you if needed. I've tried both.
Nutrition facts: Citrus fruits like orange, lemon and tangerine are rich in vitamin C which is important if you are consuming greens as vitamin C helps the body to absorb the iron from the greens.
How I consumed it: I drank lemon juice with honey every morning and made orange a part of my fruit salad.
Nutrition facts: Aloe Vera is rich in vitamin C, E, B1, B6, magnesium, potassium, calcium and 18 amino acids. It removes dandruff and protects hair from damage against sun and pollution.
How I consumed it: I drank a spoon of aloe vera Juice with water in the morning. Again, both Patanjali and Kiva are good options but if you have an aloe vera plant at home, use that. The fresher, the better.
Nutrition facts: Greek yoghurt and hung curd are rich in calcium and protein. It helps control dandruff and itchy scalp.
How I consumed it: I made hung curd at home and paired it with my lunch. I also made dips out of hung curd by mixing some dill and black salt in it. If you want to eat Greek yoghurt, Epigamia cups are great.
Nutrition facts: Cinnamon gives me Christmas feels so I already loved it. It improves the blood circulation which helps bring oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles. It's rich in calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6.
How I consumed it: I always sprinkle cinnamon on my green tea, every day.
Nutrition facts: Fiber, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats and yummy, that's oats for me. They help hair become thick, long and healthy.
How I consumed it: I opened up Saffola or Quacker oats packet everytime I felt like eating something light, which is at least once in two days. I never tried the sweet ones, I'm all about savoury. I also made oats uttapam every once in a while and paired it with tomato and mint dips but that's for when you have time because oats uttapam takes some time to cook.
Nutrition facts: Chickpeas have a lot of vitamin B9. Protein, iron, zinc, biotin and lentils are rich in folic acids which improve the scalp health.
How I consumed it: I dedicated at least 3 days of my week to chickpea, red beans and lentils.
Nutrition facts: Carrots are rich in vitamin A which help the tissues to grow and beetroot improves the health of hair follicles by detoxing and improving circulation in the body.
How I consumed it: Good carrots are seasonal so, when I had carrots, I ate them (one carrot a day). And I've made a routine of consuming one beetroot a day because I like beetroots. You can just eat half a beetroot if you are not fond of it.
Nutrition facts: Spirulina has the highest amount of copper after the animal liver. So it's perfect for vegetarians. It is the best source of iron as well so you have to be careful while consuming it. Take it in small quantity.
How I consumed it: Warning: It doesn't taste good. So only take it if you are open to tasting weird things because spirulina powder tastes different than any other greens you've ever tasted. It's a type of blue-green algae. I took it every morning in a very small quantity with warm water. Warm water curbs the taste and smell.
The oil that comes out of the scalp every day, sets on the scalp and turns into dandruff if not removed. Alternate-day wash helped me get rid of my dandruff.
My hair looks glossy and nourished without massage but I still massage my hair occasionally.
My hair now has a texture which looks more attractive than what it looked like earlier(and I don't think it's a coincidence).
No, they do not look like Aishwarya Rai or Priyanka Chopra's hair from the ads, for that, I'll still have to take a tour to the salon or maybe to my imaginary world.
Hair fall didn't completely stop, obviously that will take time but it has reduced by a noticeable amount.
However, hair fall isn't bothering me much now because I can feel the fresh growth of healthier hair. Welcome, my baby hair!
I genuinely don't have split ends anymore.
My hair is growing faster.
My hair feels happy and bouncy, in general, how they look is my second preference!
P.S. I'm a vegetarian, so I couldn't include eggs and seafood like salmon and oyster (which are good source of protein for hair) but I did brush egg yolk once on my hair before washing them, which gave my hair lots and lots of shine and the equal amount of smell that I'm not used to. Just kidding!
Hope this helps you in some way or the other!
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