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Diet for healthy hair


THE HAIR requires nourishment from the inside to maintain its health. Your diet is as important for hair as for every part of the body.

An unbalanced diet could lead to problems of hair like dryness, brittleness, dandruff and ultimately hair loss. So, include the following:

Protein is necessary for strong healthy hair as hair is made up of keratin which is a protein. So, include for non-vegetarians - lean meat, fish egg and for vegetarians - paneer, yoghurt, dals, peas, beans and nuts.

Eat whole grain cereals instead of cereals like rava or maida.

The B-Complex vitamins are extremely important for hair. It has been seen that these vitamins not only help to maintain the health and shine of hair but also prevent hair fall.

Therefore, your daily diet must contain adequate quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables eaten raw as this ensures the supply of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.

Minerals that are essential for healthy hair are iron, zinc, magnesium, sulphur, potassium, phosphorous and iodine.

A deficiency of iron is the cause of dull and brittle hair and if not corrected, can lead to hair fall. Sulphur and iodine play an important protective role.

Sulphur is necessary for the proper functioning and utilization of the B vitamins and thus contributes to the strength of the hair.

Iodine is necessary for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland and iodine deficiency can lead to many hair problems.

To make sure that you take plenty of minerals & vitamins

eat a green leafy vegetable or keerai daily.

Eat whole grain cereals like wheat, atta, ragi - atleast once a day.

Wheat germ contains concentrated minerals. So, buy a bottle of wheat germ and sprinkle 1 teaspoon into your milk, porridge, upma, toast or anything you eat for breakfast.

Follow your grandmother's advice. Take 5-10 soaked almonds daily. These are high in minerals and vitamins.

Include a salad made with vegetables like carrot, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage everyday in your diet. Add sprouts to this salad. They contain a lot of vit. C and B complex. For low calorie dressings, use lemon juice.

Yoghurt (curd) is a wonder food as far as hair is concerned. So, take as much of yoghurt as you can.

Avoid overcooked, fried foods, confectionary items, aerated drinks which provide empty calories and have no nutritional value.

Coffee, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes cause a depletion of vitamins.

Do's and Don'ts

In case of baldness due to fungal, viral or bacterial infection, consult a dermatologist.

Use a soft brush and well spaced bristles - do not comb your hair when wet; detangle from bottom to the top.

Sanitise your implements i.e. brushes, combs etc by washing them in dettol at least once a week.

There is scientific evidence that the B Complex vitamins may play an important role in restoring the health of hair. So, add a B complex capsule as a supplement. Take it after breakfast.

You can also drink a glass of vegetable juice made with carrots, tomatoes, spinach and lettuce to which juice of half a lemon has been added.

Take 2 tablets of yeast (brewers yeast) if you do not want to take the B complex.

Take iron tablets if you are anaemic.

The most important aspect of any treatment is the correct diagnosis. It is advisable to seek professional help by consulting a tricologist or a hair therapist.

Home made care for falling hair:

Oils - use only natural oil avoid perfumed oils. The application of oil with a right massage helps to stimulate blood circulation to the hair follicles.

Oils have their own particular benefits and properties - you can choose the one which is easily available.

Always warm the oil and then apply with a piece of cotton by sectioning the hair.

Olive oil - helps to restore the natural acid mantle of the scalp and keeps it healthy.

Castor oil - restores the health of the hair that has suffered damage due to the use of chemical dyes, perm, lotions or over use of hair dryers.

Pure coconut oil - is the most commonly used oil in our country. It improve the texture of hair and help hair growth. A pinch of camphor added to coconut oil and applied on hair helps to prevent infections and lice infestation.

Mustard oil contains sulphur which protect the scalp from bacterial & fungal infection.

Make your own tonic oil

To a bottle of oil, add fenugreek (methi) seed, a pinch of camphor and red hibiscus leaves. Let is stand for 10-15 days and then use to massage your hair.

Hair rejuvenating treatment:

Powder 10 gms each of lime seeds and black pepper. Make a fine paste in plain water or ginger juice.

Apply this paste on the head every night; leave it on for at least a couple of hours and then rinse it out.

Massage your scalp for 5 minutes while applying the paste.

Squeeze the milk out of a half a coconut, add the juice of half a lime and massage into the scalp. Leave it on for 4-6 hours. Wash it with a mild shampoo or crushed hibiscus leaves mixed with a tablespoon of crushed fenugreek (methi) seed and made into a paste.

Finally the condition of hair depends not only on the state of health and mind, but on regular external and internal care or lack of it. Like skin, hair also responds to the right kind of care.

Usually in case of excess hair fall, to grow back the lost hair is partially successful; but, the hair that remains needs to be taken care of.

It will help you a lot to set up a protective-care routine as protection is the best way of preventing problems like hair damage and hair loss. In fact, a proper routine would also help reverse the damage and nurse the hair back to health.

(This is the second and concluding part of the article "Nuances of hair care" published in Metro plus dated March 24, 2003).

LILY MADHOK

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