HEALTHY HAIR TIPS: FOODS, NUTRIENTS, HERBS & ESSENTIAL OILS

“Invest in your hair. It’s the crown you never take off”

This applies to kids as much as it applies to adults and that is why taking care of your kid’s hair should be of equal importance as well. Developing a healthy hair care routine at an early age will prevent your child from developing hair problems later on in life. Hair is not just one of the aspects of beauty in person, but also related with your personal hygiene. So, it is important to implant habit of keeping hair clean among kids from a very young age. As a parent we spend hours to think about child’s clothes and grooming products, but sometimes never pay attention on their hairs and it’s need. You can always get an idea by looking at your child’s hair, of whether his/her body is receiving a required amount of nutrients or not. (How to prepare easy nutritious snacks for kids?)

How you take care of your child’s hair will depend on the type of hair he or she has (thick or thin, dry or greasy), length of the hair and the activity level of the child. Parents can help kids to choose the correct Hair wash as per their age and hair type, oil their hair regularly and provide them with the right nutrients in their diet.

Some common hair problems and their causes:

Grey hair: Though graying of hair is inevitable with age, nowadays even young adults and teens are facing this problem and to cover their grey hair, they start using chemical based colors and dyes which further damage the hair in the long run. Your hair follicles have pigment cells that make melanin; this chemical gives your hair its color. As you age, the cells start to die and without melanin, the new hair that grows in has no pigment, which makes it appear grey, white or silver. (Which food can give hair pigment?)

Hair loss: Losing hair with age is expected, but hair loss in children can be alarming as it will affect them psychologically as well. Some common causes for hair loss in kids are infections, autoimmune disease, physical cause (stress) and nutritional deficiencies. However, the most common cause of hair loss in children is scalp ringworm, which is treatable fungal infection. (How to treat skin dryness in kids?)

Dry Hair: Straightening, blow-drying, highlighting and perming regularly can have a negative effect on your hair & causes dryness & split ends. Split ends occur when the protective outermost layer of hair (cuticle) is damaged and peels back. Hair styling products should be avoided for kids or should be used sparingly if really required.

Greasy Hair: Greasy or oily hair looks dull, limp and lifeless and are difficult to manage. Glands produce natural oil called sebum which helps to keep the skin lubricated. Sometimes these glands work excessively and produce more oil, leading to a greasy scalp. If your kid face this problem, using a mild and gentle shampoo might help.

How to prevent/cure hair problems:

Diet and nutrition plays a significant role in developing the look, feel and the strength of your kid’s hair. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency known in world as a major cause of hair loss. Various foods, nutrients, herbs and oils can help to prevent/cure hair related issues in kids and adults as well.

Food and Nutrients important for Hair:

Amla or Indian gooseberry: Amla is a miracle fruit for hair as it is rich in calcium, vitamin C and other antioxidants that helps to strengthen hair follicles, reduces oxidative stress and prevents premature graying, dandruff and other fungal infections. It promotes scalp circulation and stimulates healthy hair growth, both in terms of length and volume. (What are some best fruits for teenagers?)

Collagen: Collagen, as studies suggest, is one of the main reasons behind hair thinning and hair loss. Collagen is a protein which helps to build your connective tissues like bones, ligaments, cartilage and also improves skin, hair, nails, joints and digestion. It can be commonly found in fish, chicken, egg whites, citrus fruits, berries and garlic. (Which foods can help with acne?)

Protein: Your hair strands are mainly made of protein called keratin and so protein acts as the life for your hair cells, thereby helping in construction of new tissues and repairing of the damaged tissues. Some of the protein-rich foods are eggs, chicken, lentils, legumes, quinoa, green peas, spinach, guava, milk & milk products, nuts like almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds. (Some easy protein for kids)

Iron: Iron deficiency is one of the primary reasons for hair loss in kids and adults. Scientists believe that some genes in the hair follicle are regulated by iron. It also helps to circulate oxygen to our body & our tissues. Hence, the lack of it may compromise hair health and also causes other problems like fatigue, shortness of breath and dry & damaged skin. High protein rich foods include tofu, beans, legumes, dark leafy greens, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds. (Does cooking in iron pan help in nutrition?)

Vitamin B: Vitamin B provides thickness & shines to the hair and also encourages hair growth. Vitamin B6, B3, B5 and biotin in particular are very helpful in strengthening hair, reducing hair loss and supporting our adrenal glands. Dark leafy vegetables, gluten-free whole grains, sweet potatoes, legumes, fish, liver and eggs are the most common sources of B vitamins.

Antioxidants (Vitamin A, E, C, and Selenium): Vitamin E helps in stimulating hair growth and promotes circulation in the scalp and hair follicles, while vitamin A is good for hair follicle stem cells. Selenium and Vitamin C prevent hair damage and ageing of hair. Sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, almonds, sunflower seeds, berries, bell peppers, citrus fruits, cauliflower and mushrooms are rich source of these antioxidants. (An easy source of daily selenium)

Herbs and Oils that are good for Hair:

Green tea: It is a rich source catechins, an antioxidant which helps to reduce DTH (an androgen which makes your hair fall). As a result, it stops hair fall and helps to fight against other hair problems like, dryness of the scalp and dandruff.

Aloe Vera: Regular use of aloe vera helps in maintaining the pH balance of the hair, in opening up the blocked pores of the scalp and also boosts the growth of hair follicles. A special protein (called proteolytic) in it helps to break down dead skin cells on the scalp and promotes hair growth.

Hibiscus: This flower is rich in vitamin C, flavonoids, amino acids, mucilage fiber, moisture content and antioxidants. It helps prevent hair loss and stimulates regrowth from dormant follicles. It also reduces the graying of hair.

Moringa: Moringa is loaded with nutrients such as Zinc, vitamin A, B, C and E and essential amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants which helps to nourish your hair. It helps restore strength, promotes hair growth and also repairs damaged hair. (Is this really a superfood to prevent most of the ailments?)

Coconut oil: Coconut oil acts as a great moisturizer for your scalp. It penetrates your skin and hair shaft, promotes hair growth and even keeps the scalp lice free. It also works as a conditioner preventing hair damage and reducing protein loss in hair.

Neem oil: Neem oil is the nature’s cure to all your hair concerns as it has regenerative properties which promotes healthy cell division and stimulates hair follicle growth.

Recipe for 7 Veggies Rice

  • ½ onion
  • ⅓ broccoli
  • ½ bowl corn
  • ½ bowl peas
  • 1 potato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bowl soy chunks
  • 1.5 bowl raw rice
  • 3 bowls water
  • salt and pepper

Sauté all the veggies. Add raw rice. Salt as per taste and water. Sprinkle pepper and mix. Keep on low flame and cover the pan with a lid. Let cook till done. Serve with yogurt or plain.

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