Friday, June 20, 2008

Nurture Hair to Health

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by Ysolt Usigan

our biggest concern is usually how this will affect the way our hair looks. It's a natural concern for most women (and men!) to have. The health of our hair, however, is actually what we need to evaluate. From scalp conditions to what we eat, there are several areas related to health that you should consider if you notice a change in your hair growth and texture.

"Hair health depends on blood supply, circulation and nutrition," says Practitioner Dr. Melody Hart. "It can also be from one's thyroid, liver hormones and stress levels." Whether you're suffering from hair loss or want to prevent it from happening, these expert tips will help you keep your hair its healthiest.

Eating and Drinking for Hair
Check the ingredients in the food you eat. Are your meals enriching? A lot of foods lack vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For instance, eating organic can greatly improve hair health, says Dr. Julia Tatum Hunter, dermatologist and founder of Skin Fitness Plus in Beverly Hills, CA. "The closer to nature—raw green foods—you eat, the more alkaline and healthy your skin and body will become," she explains. "You must address your skin and body internally and externally to achieve health and turn back the clock."

Hart also suggests eating foods rich in silica and sulphur such as onions, garlic, green leafy veggies and eggs. Sulphur, which is often dubbed the "beauty mineral" and can be found in its greatest concentration in hair, skin and nails, promotes circulation and decreases inflammation. Experts like Dr. Hart theorize adequate amounts of sulphur can help jumpstart hair growth in people with deficiencies. "Iodine and potassium foods, such as sea vegetables (like seaweed), also promote growth and thickness," she says.

As much as you love coffee, sweets, and salty snacks, reducing your intake of salt, sugar, fats and caffeine can also aid in fostering hair health. Instead of coffee or soda, drink water. Since the human body is generally composed of 60-80 percent water, when deprived of it, your cell health suffers. Dehydration directly impacts hair growth, so Dr. Hart suggests drinking at least six glasses of water a day.

Dangers of Styling
From highlights to hair spray, your hair has been through a lot. Though some of these beauty treatments may seem harmless—hey, we're all guilty—they could lead to hair damage, which contribute to hair loss. "Virtually, all skin, oral, nail and hair care products have toxic ingredients and antimicrobials, which create more inflammation," says Dr. Hunter. "[Hair treatments] can exacerbate common skin problems like hair loss, and accelerate aging and deteriorating skin and body health."

But it's not just you! Dr. Hunter points out that inflammation begins afflicting us from birth. "Skin, the largest organ of the body, is used first to detoxify," she explains. "As it becomes inflamed from what we consume, absorb, and are exposed to (such as pollution and sunlight), the results are aging and hair loss."

Hunter suggests avoiding or decreasing the use of chemical irritants like hair dye and daily styling products. "The result will be a visible improvement," she says. "Doing so will also strengthen your [scalp's] natural but weakened ability to function. It will repair itself and you can experience hair re-growth."

Strengthen the Building Blocks
Whether you're guilty of putting your hair through a lot or a victim of aging and natural forces, you can help strengthen your follicles. Your body is a construction site so you need to provide the building blocks (quality ones, that is) to fight the causes of inflammation. "It's imperative to supplement the internal organs and skin layers with the missing tools to accomplish the job of building a firm foundation," Dr. Hunter points out.

Besides consuming foods that are fresh and high in sulphur, and drinking water, Dr. Hunter suggests eating healthy. "Your diet must be supported with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nutrients and oils that continually replenish, strengthen and energize your entire body," she says. "Doing this will promote physical and psychological well-being and stop the epidemic of acne, hair loss, rosacea and skin cancers."

Other essential nutrients that aid in cell repair include, glutathione (the most important antioxidant for the body's immune system preferably in lozenge form), alpha lipoic acid (an effective antioxidant that prevents the symptoms of vitamin C and E deficiencies), and multi-minerals (minerals promote proper composition of body fluids, formation of blood and bone, maintenance of healthy nerve functions). The proper dosage of these nutrients will foster hair health.

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