By: Sarah Federico, Beauty & Wellness Writer
For lustrous, strong hair: healthy eating habits forever (and then some)
2021 is just hours away – and we don’t know about you – but this upcoming year, we’re in search of some much-needed balance. So, we’re setting an intention to achieve optimal health. Luckily, this means that we’ll be getting gorgeous hair, too … because, there’s no denying that your diet can have a major impact on the health and vitality of your strands.
Whether your locks are lackluster, dry, brittle or thinning, the culprit could be a diet that lacks nutrients – or one that is high in foods that cause inflammation.
Here, we’re outlining 2021’s most balanced get-healthy diets. Try one out – and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous, nourished hair from the inside, out.
The Paleo Diet
Designed to resemble a diet similar to that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the Paleo diet relies exclusively on whole foods. Though it’s impossible to know EXACTLY what our ancestors noshed on, researchers believe that their diets consisted of wild game, fish, plants, nuts and seeds.
Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, plus healthy fats and oils.
Avoid: Processed foods, sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils and trans fats.
Hair-health benefits: Eggs, berries, spinach, pasture raised meats, wild fish, sweet potatoes and avocados are considered mainstays of the Paleo diet. These foods include hair healthy nutrients such as antioxidants, selenium, iron, protein vitamins A, B, C, D3 and K, plus omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, this way of eating avoids inflammatory sugars, grains and legumes, which can significantly slow hair growth.
The Whole30 team refers to its’ program as a reset – but in truth it’s a classic example of an elimination diet. The creators’ reason that, by eliminating certain foods for 30 days, you can easily discover triggers for overeating and inflammation. Additionally, this program can help you to create new, more-healthy habits. Bonus: there’s no calorie counting. You can eat as many whole, unprocessed foods as you’d like.
Eat: Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, natural fats, herbs, spices and seasonings. Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
Avoid: Sugar (real or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, junk food.
Hair-health benefits: Nutrients included in Whole30 approved food-choices are iron, zinc, omega-3’s, plus vitamin’s B and C, which are essential to healthy hair growth. Additionally, this diet eschews foods that can cause inflammation. This is important because inflammation has been proven to lead to hair loss and slower growing hair.
The Mediterranean Diet
Based on the traditional foods that people ate in countries such as Greece and Italy in the 1960’s, the Mediterranean diet can help to aide in weight loss – plus can help to prevent heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes. Fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel are a mainstay of this diet; a single glass of red wine is recommended daily.
Eat: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seed, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood and extra virgin olive oil.
Eat in moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt.
Eat rarely: Red meat.
Don’t eat: Sugar sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other processed foods.
Hair-health benefits: Fatty fish, oysters, Greek yogurt, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds contain significant amounts of omega 3, 6, and 9, plus biotin. These nutrients can help to give hair growth and strength a boost, while enhancing shine.
Whole Food Plant Based
Centered on whole, unrefined or minimally processed plants, a Whole Foods Plant Based diet encourages unlimited fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes. The proponents of this diet believe that a diet high in animal-based products and highly processed foods can make people overweight and even sick and that eating WFPB can prevent and even reverse these sicknesses (high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and arthritis).
Eat: Fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes.
Don’t eat (or eat minimally): red meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, and highly refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar and oil.
Hair-health benefits: Sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts, seeds, sweet peppers and beans contain hair healthy compounds such as beta carotene, protein, zinc, iron, biotin, folate, plus vitamins A and C. A diet rich in these foods can help to fight free radicals, speed up hair growth, and increase hair density.
So, whichever healthy eating path you choose, remember: whole, unprocessed foods deliver the MOST amount of nutrients – and nutrients equal beautiful, healthy hair.
All images retrieved from Shutterstock using a Standard License