Woman Washing Man's Healthy Hair

Hair is one of the few characteristics humans have that is easily changeable.  You can color it, cut it, style it in different ways or leave it completely natural with the occasional trim.  Environmental factors, genetics and, above all, the foods we eat and do not eat have their impacts on head hair.

The Difference Between Head and Body Hair

There is a distinction between head and body hair, including facial hair.  Body hair is largely affected by hormones.  Hormone bursts cause body hair to grow faster and, sometimes, in places it normally doesn’t.  Women often find this the most irritating, but men who prefer a clean shaven look also find it difficult to deal with.  Conversely, head hair is mostly affected by other things.  Yes, hormones can play a role, but they are not usually the key to healthy head hair.

Why Do We Lose Hair?

Men and women can both have issues with hair loss.  While predominant in men, pattern balding is an issue for both sexes.  Pattern balding is usually indicative of certain genes.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot diet can do about this type of hair loss.  However, things like thinning, breakage, brittleness and overall look of the hair are correctable.

Healthy hair is surprisingly supple and elastic in nature.  It can stand up to all sorts of abuses from harsh cleansers and styling products to hair dryers, dyes and solutions designed to semi-permanently alter the state of the hair such as with perming or straightening.  Unhealthy hair is prone to falling out, breaking and looking incredibly dull.  When hair problems are due to missing nutrients, they are fixable!

What to Eat for Healthy Hair

A study found that in women, hair loss is largely a result of complications surrounding a lack of lysine.  Lysine is one of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own and has to be obtained from food or supplements.  It is found in protein in plant and animal sources.  Too little lysine causes iron stores to deplete quickly.  While hair loss in men is usually due to genetic factors, protein is still a factor.  Vitamin B3, which is also called Niacin, is also good for healthy hair.

The following foods have high concentrations of lysine in them:

  • Amaranth
  • Beans - azuki beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, soybeans and winged beans
  • Beef
  • Catfish
  • Chicken
  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan cheese — fresh
  • Split peas
  • Quinoa

These foods are high in Vitamin B3 (Niacin):

  • Barley
  • Chicken
  • Couscous
  • Duck
  • Halibut
  • Lamb
  • Long-grain rice
  • Pork
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Tuna
  • Veal

It is easy to take those foods and make meals out of them.  For the healthiest hair, try to incorporate foods with lysine daily and those with Vitamin B3 several times a week.  While catfish has one of the highest concentrations of lysine, it is not as readily available or as easy to prepare as some of the other foods on the list.  The protein sources in the meats such as chicken and beef are around 8 percent lysine.  The protein in the plant-based foods, eggs and milk are around 7 percent lysine.

Finally, avoid smoking and get enough water.  Smoking has been shown to affect the skin adversely, and since hair relies directly on the skin for optimal health, smoking can negatively impact hair.  Hydration is also a key component.  Again, this is because healthy hair needs healthy skin, and water is necessary for healthy skin.

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013