Hair health: The food to eat ‘plenty of’ – ‘Crucial role in keeping your hair’

Gemma Atkinson reveals her hair loss

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Hair can be important to people’s self image, so losing your hair can be a distressing experience. The NHS says: “It’s normal to lose hair. We can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing. Hair loss is not usually anything to be worried about, but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition.”

Emily Rollason, Senior Nutritionist at Holland & Barrett said: “It doesn’t matter what treatment you put on your tresses if you’re not looking after them from the inside too.”

She said for luscious locks “the first step” is to make sure you eat plenty of protein.

“This essential nutrient plays a crucial role in keeping your hair – the fastest-growing tissue in your body – in good condition,” she explained.

Ms Rollason explained: “Each strand of hair is made up of keratin, a super-tough protein that’s also used to create fingernails and skin.”

She explained that protein is “essential” throughout the body. She said: “Most of the body’s tissues, including your muscles and blood, need this nutrient for growth and repair. So you should eat plenty of protein to ensure that your hair receives its fair share.”

She said: “Similarly, eating a healthy, balanced diet such as green leafy veg, beans, nuts, eggs, fish, and chicken, which are all sources of protein, can promote hair growth.”

The nutritionist added that a number of foods are packed full of antioxidants. For example, blueberries, beetroot and beans.

She said these can also support normal blood circulation, “which is essential for having a healthy scalp”.

The NHS says you should see a GP if:

  • You have sudden hair loss
  • You develop bald patches
  • You’re losing hair in clumps
  • Your head also itches and burns
  • You’re worried about your hair loss

The health body explains: “The GP should be able to tell you what’s causing your hair loss by looking at your hair. Tell them if your hair loss is affecting your well being, and ask what treatments are available.”

Gloucestershire Hospital NHS Trust says good hair care involves washing and conditioning your hair using your fingertips.

It says doing this avoids causing any damage that can result if the palms of the hands are used.

It says: “It is good practice to use a conditioner every time you wash your hair. Conditioners protect the hair by coating the hair shaft, leaving a smoother surface.

“This reduces friction, which helps to avoid breakage, frizz and split ends. Leave-in conditioners can also be helpful.”

The Trust states: “Heat can cause a lot of damage to the hair. It can weaken it and has a drying effect, making it more prone to breakage.”

It says that lifestyle factors can also be in play. It suggests people avoid smoking as this causes inflammation throughout the body, which can worsen hair loss.

It adds: “Eat a healthy diet. A lack of certain vitamins or minerals, especially iron and protein, can contribute to hair loss. A blood test can confirm any deficiencies and will be requested by the clinician in the clinic if they feel it is appropriate.

“Supplements designed for hair health can be beneficial; these can be bought over the counter at most pharmacies. Not eating enough calories during the day can also lead to hair loss.”

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