December 2015 By Naini Setalvad Gorge on leafy greens, nuts, seeds, salads, fruits and good fats for shiny, healthy, bouncy hair, says Naini Setalvad Each day, we are bombarded with hair products that promise to make our hair thick, long, strong and glossy. A natural consequence of the importance of hair in making us look good. Even if we have sublime features, our appearance will suffer if our mane is wild, unkempt or unmanageable. Many times people come to me with hair fall problems seeking quick fix methods. Research says that a well balanced diet is necessary for good hair. Since beauty comes from within we also need to clean ourselves from inside in order to look better on the outside. This is done by improving the food that goes into our body. Fresh fruits, green vegetables, raw salads, yellow veggies and fruits, whole grains, pulses, legumes, beans, sprouts, low fat milk and healthy fats in nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oil are the prime foods that create health, leading to lustrous hair. So boost your health and beauty with antioxidants like beta-carotene, Vitamin E, selenium, Vitamin C, fibres, natural fats, and the Indian gooseberry (awala) the richest known source of Vitamin C. Unlike other antioxidants that defend only cell membranes, Vitamin C patrols the blood stream or the cell interiors, cleansing every part of your body. It hydrates your hair. A cup of guava has 377mg of Vitamin C. This helps prevent the collagen breakdown that surround hair strands, causing it to be less brittle. Boost collagen not via expensive products but by increasing Vitamin C intake through natural sources. Good fats Fats of good quality are a must for healthy hair growth, which are found in your nuts and seeds. Almond is rich in Vitamin E, which is essential for hair health. Coconut too, is rich in Vitamin E and has been used since ancient times in India for grooming hair and maintaining its health. Fresh coconut is also considered excellent “hair food.” Sprinkle grated coconut over salads, diced fresh fruit or rice. Coconut has a high affinity to penetrate the hair shaft and treat hair loss and damaged hair. Other wonder foods for hair are flax seeds, walnuts, and fish like surmai and rawas. These contain Omega 3 fatty acids which help strengthen your hair follicles and make your strands shiny and smooth. Vitamin A Increase beta carotene intake to remedy dry hair. The body turns beta-carotene into Vitamin A. This protects against dull hair, encouraging the glands in your scalp to make an oily fluid called sebum that prevents dry hair. Beta carotene is found in oranges and vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, musk melon, mangoes and fresh or dried apricots. Sweet potatoes and yams, roasted, baked, or steamed, are packed with beta carotene. Being antioxidants, they provide the little soldiers that protect our body from free radical damage. These antioxidants purify the blood, preventing hair fall. Add carrot in your juice, salad, soup, raitas, vegetables and parathas. Eat leafy greens Another one of nature’s boons to mankind is the family of greens, especially spinach, and fenugreek. Radish green is best steamed, lest it loses its supply of calcium, iron and Vitamin C. Gujarati methi thepla and Punjabi sarson ka saag, methi gajar, lasuni palak, Sindhi sai bhaji, Maharashtrian palak chutney and palak dal or sambar are rich in proteins, calcium and even vitamin A. Simply garnish your food with coriander. The nutrients in leafy greens like iron, folic and vitamin C work together for a healthy scalp as well as hair, keep it moisturised and prevent breakage. Another super green food for hair is curry leaves. Instead of whisking them to the side of your plate, relish them in plenty every day! Other supplements Yogurt: Helps the blood flow to your scalp and increases hair growth. Popularly known as Vitamin B5 it may prevent hair loss and thinning of the hair. Zinc: When you don’t have enough of this mineral in your diet you lose hair even in your eye lashes. Found abundantly in spinach, mushrooms, kidney beans, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, flax seeds, coco beans, cashew nuts and brown rice. Biotin found in B vitamins: It is available in nuts, brown rice, peanuts, almonds, sweet potato, onion, tomato, carrots and oats. Cinnamon: Bite on a tiny piece of cinnamon or sprinkle it on your toast or coffee. It helps the blood to bring oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles. Cumin, turmeric and black pepper are some “hair friendly” spices. Add a healthy pinch of each to your food. In addition make sure you get plenty of quality protein. If you are not consuming enough protein your hair will become dry and brittle. Eat sprouts, legumes, beans, pulses, eggs and fish for good protein. Also switch from white flour to whole grains like bajra, jowar, wheat, unpolished rice and ragi. Stay stress-free Stress can be seriously injurious to long-term health and colour of hair. Practice relaxation techniques, get good quality sleep to help rejuvenation. An underactive thyroid can result in frizzy or brittle hair while over active thyroid turns hair greasy and limp. So check your levels. Water is a most important ingredient. Make sure you drink abundant quantities of water. One fourth weight of a strand of hair is made of water. It makes your hair soft, silky and shiny. Avoid canned and bottled food, fried foods, spicy food and food cooked in saturated fat and oils like dalda, vanaspati and margarine. Just like your body, your hair needs a balanced, nutritious diet to stay healthy. That’s why this food plan contains a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Guava (peru) vegetable Ingredients 6 ripe guavas (peru), unpeeled 1 cup capsicum cubes 2 tsps oil 1 tsp mustard seeds (rai) 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing) 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) 1 cup tomato cubes 1 tbsp coriander-cumin seeds (dhania-jeera) powder 2 tsps chilli powder 1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchur) 1 tsp jaggery salt to taste 2 tbsps finely chopped coriander (dhania) for garnishing 2 tbsps of grated coconut for garnishing Method Cut the guava pieces from the edges and cut them into cubes to avoid the seeds. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan, add the mustard seeds and sauté on a medium flame for a few seconds. Add the asafoetida, turmeric powder, guava cubes and capsicum and sauté on a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, coriander-cumin seeds powder, chilli powder, dried mango powder, jaggery, salt and 1/2 cup of water, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 3 to 4 minutes, till the guava turns tender while stirring occasionally. Serve immediately garnished with coriander and coconut. About the author : Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist, specializing in lifestyle and immunity disorders. Her foundation, Health For You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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