I recently began the typical millennial "new year, new me" move of taking my health and wellness seriously.
I know, it shouldn’t be considered a fad; however, it seems that my Instagram feed and Netflix suggested documentaries continue to make me feel ashamed that I’d rather eat a smoke shack burger with onion and cheese fries from Shake Shack (with water, if I may add) than drink kale, carrots and strawberries blended from my Nutribullet. Shoot me if the first option sounds, looks, and tastes more appetizing.
As I contemplated getting a side of fries with that, I begun to feel guilty. I feared what my body would look and feel like as I moved into my late 20’s, so I figured why not start caring a little more about what I put into my body? I hired a trainer, work out 2-3 times a week, drink more water and eat a nice source of protein, starch and a vegetable for dinner. Now, am I going to risk it all and go vegan? Hell no. But I’m thankful I’ve made the changes to do what I am doing now.
I have noticed a difference in my levels of energy, my skin is constantly on glow and my overall mood is lighter. I am less stressed and worried, and I look forward to exercising taking a salad for lunch. Most importantly, I’ve noticed vast improvements in my hair. I have always had extremely thick hair but like many, I experience thinning and breakage due to improperly caring for my weaves. I’ve since taken a better approach to caring for my hair, and with the addition of living by the mantra of using food as medicine - my natural hair continues to flourish.
With 2018 upon us, and “new year, new me” being shouted worldwide from the hilltops, here are a few tips on the ingredients and foods you can consume to help you glow up, and live your best lives. Here's how to grow natural hair fast with food:
I’ve become the queen of cooking baked salmon with butter (fat free of course), minced garlic, onions and brown rice. It’s refreshing, filling, and makes me feel as though I’m eating at my best. Salmon is comprised of strong nutrients like Vitamin D, protein, and omega-3s, which are three acids that promote hair growth and keep your scalp healthy. Give salmon a try - we all know the key on how to grow natural hair fast starts from the scalp!
I use peppers and onions in pretty much every meal (and garlic). One of my favorite meals is stuffed peppers with ground turkey, onions and cheddar cheese. It’s easy to make, low in carbohydrates, and is packed with goodness! Bell peppers, green peppers, hot peppers and yellow peppers used in any stir fry gives me life. It adds natural flavor without having to use a lot of artificial bottled seasonings that contain salt. Yellow bell peppers seems to be the better option as they have almost five and a half times more vitamin C than many fruits, including oranges (341 milligrams, as opposed to 63). Vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens the hair shaft, follicles and also prevents breakage.
Eggs are everyone’s favorite breakfast food. I love eggs because they can serve as a basic ingredient or as an actual meal. You can scramble them, fry them, grill them or use them to bake or make French toast. The possibilities are endless. How are they good for your hair, you ask? Like salmon, they are a source of those aforementioned omega-3s. Eggs also contain biotin, which many people trying to grow their hair take in a supplement form such as a pill or shake. But don’t be fooled, it’s not the “healthier” egg white option that will make your hair long and beautiful, it’s actually the yolk. Eating too many egg whites may block the absorption of biotin into the body, causing a depletion of this micronutrient.
Who doesn’t love a good slice of Patti’s Pies or candied yams for Sunday dinner? While those are yummy every once in awhile, try cooking the actual starch on it’s own for a delicious, healthy treat. Sweet potatoes are filled with beta carotene, the precursor for Vitamin A. Beta carotene promotes a healthy scalp and assists with hair growth too. Instead of rice as your starch for dinner, make yourself a good ol’ batch of baked sweet potatoes and see how your hair grows.
I mentioned the importance of avocados in my previous interview piece. Avocados have a high concentration of fatty acids naturally found in skin cells (which help to keep your skin smooth and supple). As many know, they are also a key ingredient in many age-old beauty secrets. When used on the hair and scalp, they have the added ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production. Mix a little avocado with sour cream (sour cream helps to exfoliate dead skin and clean up buildup on the scalp such as dandruff) and apply to your hair and scalp as a hair mask or paste and leave on for about ten minutes before washing off and style as normal. It’s also tasty in a homemade smoothie mixed with other fruits and vegetables.
Almonds, Nuts, Seeds
Growing up in Philly, sunflower seeds were the hood’s greatest snack. But did you know that seeds are also good for your hair? Just a few seeds contain a rich source of vitamin E, which enhances blood flow to the scalp, promoting faster hair growth. Almonds have high biotin content which helps hair grow faster and thicker. One cup of almonds contains nearly one-third of your daily requirement. You should be able to see the results in a month or two of adding them to your diet. You can make a homemade trail mix with these ingredients and add natural honey for a sweetener. In less than five minutes, you’ll have a quick and healthy snack that you can enjoy throughout your day.
Spinach and Other Dark Leafy Greens
My mom loves fresh spinach with butter and garlic (as you can tell, garlic is the plug). I recently discovered that spinach is a great source of iron. Iron is an essential mineral that your hair cells need and thirst for. A deficiency of iron in the body may cause hair loss, which many people with autoimmune diseases experience. When running low on iron, oxygen and nutrients are not transported to the hair roots and follicles appropriately, which can inhibit growth and make your strands weak,causing split ends. Eat as much spinach and kale as you can.
I’m not a fan of carrots, at all. I don’t think they taste the greatest, no matter how much I season them or how I make them. I do however, like the baby carrots that we feed our family pitbull Dutch for some reason (odd, I know, but at least I’m eating them). They taste slightly sweeter. There’s an old saying that “Carrots are good for your eyes.” Drinking carrot juice also encourages hair growth. It also helps the scalp in producing natural oils that keep it and your roots healthy. Knowing this, I guess I’ll try and eat carrots more often. In the name of hair health!