When it comes to the blame game for hair and skin problems, climate is a top favourite. Dull hair? It’s the dry, hot winds that are damaging it. Sallow complexion? It’s the heat and humidity. Rarely do people confess they are not eating right, are stressed and are also probably overdoing hair and skin treatments.
While the last two problems can be optional vices, what’s almost unarguable is that most people are eating food that’s not meant to nourish skin and hair. Fast food for breakfast? Check. Processed foods for lunch? Check. Fizzy beverages through the day? Check. Too much coffee through the day to stay alert? Check.
“Chemicals in processed foods, trans-fat and chemical compounds in fried foods speed up the process of ageing,” says Yasmine Haddad, senior dietician, Live’ly, a health and nutrition lounge in Dubai. Fast foods are also full of sugar, which are empty in nutrients and full of calories. High-salt diets, also a popular choice with many people, lead to excess sodium accumulation around hair follicles, hindering absorption of essential nutrients needed for healthy hair, says Haddad.
For lush locks and a glowing skin, it is absolutely essential to eat nutritious foods. These include vegetables, fruits, vegetable oils, nuts and protein, “It’s about a healthy lifestyle,” says Haddad. “You have to sleep well, eat well, exercise and avoid stress. Stress is very bad for hair,” she says. Of course, hard water also has a bad effect on hair, but if your diet is poor, it can increase hair problems.
A diet rich in protein is essential for healthy hair as hair is primarily composed of keratin, a type of protein. Salmon, beans, fish, meat and fortified dairy products, cereals and Vitamin D supplements are essential for healthy skin and hair. [Yasmine Haddad]