Hair is something I get asked about SO much. We all care about our hair- men and women alike. The most manly man also has his arsenal of hair care products. And of course, us ladies reading this love our stock of premium (yet hopefully non-toxic!) shampoos, leave-ins, gels and the like. We all love having great hair, and many of us define our beauty by our hair. But there’s even spiritual references to hair…
For instance, Shiva Nataraja, represents the supreme self, and the Shiva Nataraja is the Dancing Shiva.
Shiva Nataraja is often present in yoga studios, because it represents the cosmic dance, the origins of the asanas. You might recognize it- it looks like with the big wheel, and the figure of Shiva is in the middle. His right foot is pressing down on the ego, delusion, that which is truly not us, which is symbolized by a human figure. And the left foot is lifted in freedom- like a beautiful, graceful dance.
I’ve read that the symbolism in the hair represents the power of our life force. Throughout history, through different traditions, we’ve seen a lot of symbolism around hair, and it is something that is a reflection of our heath, as well.
How ‘Digestion’ Impacts Your Hair Health
There’s many different tips and techniques that I want to share with you about how to really improve your hair health, which is something I’ve talked about extensively in the The Beauty Detox Foods and Radical Beauty, but we have some more insight we want to share with you and review with you today.
Digestion and Protein
Speaking about digestion, the hair is made up largely of protein, but what is important is the quality of the protein. Because as I always say, “You are not what you eat. You actually are what you digest and assimilate,” and this is so, so true for protein.
I’ve done a lot of research in the area of protein digestion and protein assimilation, and how most people over-consume protein, which leaves a lot of toxic by-products in your system.
The average American is said to consume three to five times more protein than they need. Yes, and very few people have the levels of hydrochloric acid, and enzymes, and all the different factors to actually digest and break that protein down, and so not only does it not get digested and used, but then it becomes a toxic byproduct, which then damages our gut, which then has an impact on our hair. In other words, we’re not getting the building blocks that we need on one level and then we’re adding toxins on another level.
Then on another level, too much protein is said to be as insulinogenic in the body as white bread. Meaning that excess protein actually converts to sugar and so that has an impact on candida. Which is something we talk about a lot in the Beauty Detox community, and I suffered from candida, as well, for years and I had horrible hair. It was really, really coarse.
When we’re looking it to heal our lifestyle, getting over candida, building healthy hair really is a lifestyle.
If we were just to cut out sweet fruit, chocolate, and dessert, we’d still have sugar in our system from excess protein. That is really interesting and important to note. Because having digestive issues really does impact our hair, as well.
So, again, because the hair is largely protein, it doesn’t mean that we need to over-consume protein to help build our hair. It means that we need to consume forms that are easy for our bodies to assimilate, with reducing the toxic load and the toxic byproducts.
A Few Tips To Get You Started & What To Avoid
Having something like the Power Protein Smoothie every day, as I do, is a fantastic hair-building food. It has Raw Organic Vegan Protein Powder, chia seed gel, which is basically chia seeds soaked in liquid.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also really important for healthy hair, as is hydration, just to make sure that your hair follicles are healthy and hydrated, and it prevents breakage. Also, hemp milk is what I usually now put into my power protein just to get even more omega-3 fats, so that’s one of the ways that you can get really high quality protein, help build your hair, and also get the nutrients that promote circulation.
Avoiding other kind of gut damaging kind of foods are important in rebuilding your hair- such as gluten and dairy.
A core Beauty Detox idea is, you are not what you eat, but what you digest and assimilate. If your gut is impaired, if you are not absorbing the maximum amount of nutrition, then there’s limited nutrition to get around, and your hair is going to suffer because your hair is not a vital organ.
Researchers now talk a lot about the gut brain access. By the way, I have been talking about this for years with the Beauty Detox community- being ahead of the curve for a while now- but your gut affects your feelings. It affects your emotions. It affects your moods. It affects your skin and it most certainly affects your hair, as well.
Avoiding foods that are difficult to digest and have a negative impact, are great point to bring up. Dairy, being my number one. Dairy is not intended for human consumption, so it creates so many issues in the body. These include over-acidifying the system, leeching alkaline minerals from the bone, such as calcium, which is ironic, because a lot of people think that they get calcium from dairy.
The net effect of dairy is actually a loss. It is bloating and difficult to digest. If you damage your gut lining over time, you create a leaky gut. Then, when you consume irritating foods, like dairy and gluten, and they pass through your leaky gut, then those protein pass through the gut into the bloodstream and become extremely difficult to deal with. It’s like creating an autoimmune response- so there is inflammation in order to counteract these proteins that are passing through the gut into the blood.
Also, everybody has a different genetic constitution. There are people that simply grow grey hair earlier than others based on different body types and constitutions. But if you feel like your hair is just really unhealthy, and it’s greying prematurely, and it’s not having the same vitality and color overall, B vitamins are also really important in this regard.
If you’re plant-based, as I am, there are so many amazing sources of B vitamins that are naturally worked into the beauty detox recipes and lifestyle. Some of these plant-based sources of B vitamins are:
- Nutritional yeast- great on everything from steamed veggies to kale salad (like a cheesy replacement!).
- SBO Probiotics help restore the gut and it’s ability to produce B vitamins.
- Bee pollen is really high in B vitamins.
- Pine pollen is an alternative. It’s really popular, or it’s becoming really popular, and it’s almost like bee pollen, but it doesn’t involve bees collecting it. It’s a really concentrated, in a power form versus granules. They both contain a very similar makeup in terms of vitamins, amino acids.
- Fermented veggies: Probiotic & Enzyme Salad (aka: raw sauerkraut), kimchi, etc.
- Algae such as spirulina and chlorella.
Note: If you are vegan, it is generally recommended to supplement B12, to ensure that you have an adequate supply.
How ‘Circulation’ Impacts Your Hair Health
Now, let’s discuss circulation and how it relates to hair health. Most people think of circulation primarily as it relates to our heart health. But again- we see that truly everything is connected!
Our cardiovascular system pumps nutrients and oxygen to the extremities, which include the hair follicles. It includes the importance of being able to nourish and be able to grow healthy hair. If our circulation is clogged, if it’s stagnant, if the blood is sticky and thick…there is a reduction of oxygen and nutrition getting around, and our hair absolutely and definitely suffers from that.
More Beauty Tips To Help With Circulation
There’s a whole section about this in Radical Beauty. If you haven’t checked out my newest book with Deepak Chopra, please do because it will give you so many tips on this topic, but a big huge tip I want to share with you right off the bat is to balance your EFA Ratio, which is your essential fatty acid ratio, or the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in your system.
Most of us have way too many omega-6s from vegetable oils and products that contain vegetable oil, which is pretty much every snack food, every salad dressing, every sort of free packaged food in the grocery store. A lot of them have some levels.
They’re often listed sometimes just generically as vegetable oil, whether it be soy bean, or corn, canola, sunflower seed oil or so on. Omega-3 fats, which we need more of to help balance that are derived from flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, hemp milk and walnuts!
I did a FB Live video on how to make your own fresh hemp milk, because it’s really easy to make. You blend the hemp seeds basically with water and it doesn’t require the straining of almond milk. It’s on Facebook and YouTube. Smoothies and elixirs that contain hemp milk are a great way to get omega-3’s into your system.
It really does wonders for your hair when you’re getting those essential fats. It opens up your circulation, it’s nourishing and it’s really, really important. For many America, the EFA ratio could be 1: 25 (omega 3’s: omega 6’s) or higher. What is considered ideal is 1:1, 1:2 or even 1: 4.
I think that if we work to heal that ratio and had more omega-3 fats and less omega-6s, I think we would see an improvement in our hair. We talk a lot more about this in Radical Beauty, much more in depth.
Another great circulation tip is to incorporate warming spices. I think part of what is amazing about warming spices is that on one level they stimulate our digestion and then also our circulation. Ginger and turmeric are particularly helpful, to some extent cayenne. They can aid in proper digestion and even have some anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation is the enemy of circulation.
As warming spices have anti-inflammatory properties, thus reducing inflammation, they are very powerful for circulation- which is key to building that gorgeous healthy hair! Some of the warming spices that are fantastic include turmeric, ginger, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon (which I love putting into hot almond or hot milk in the evenings). It’s something I do a lot, with a little bit of stevia, and it tastes like a nice sweet drink to end the day. I also put cinnamon in my dahl– a pretty traditional spice.
We think of cinnamon only in sweet things in the Western world, but it’s actually used in savory flavor profiles. There’s a mix of a savory flavor profile in a lot of Indian foods. It’s really interesting. When I was in Sri Lanka, you would see these big cinnamon sticks in some of the foods.
I’m obsessed with cumin too. It’s a great one for the season, and you can change the spices optimally first season, but right now it’s a great time to put cumin in.
Fresh ground black pepper is another warming spice. However, Dr. Jay and Ayurveda practices are really adamant about not using ground black pepper, ideally, because they believe the oils can become rancid if you use powdered. So be sure you go out and get yourself a fresh pepper grinder if you don’t have one already- that way the oils would be really potent and that would help warm the body, increase circulation, and therefore, help with your hair.
I hope this was helpful, but also helped to peak your interest to learn more- because there’s so much more that can really help you build that beautiful healthy hair that you want.
Sending you guys all the best- and see you back here soon!
Have a fantastic day!
This was a great article to read. I’ve noticed more than average hair loss and am wondering what I could potentially do to help my body heal itself.
I have extremely low iron levels (8) and have anemia as a result, and believe my hormones are imbalanced too. May restart the 30 day roadmap to help me on this journey as well. It is hard, doctors want to prescribe medicines and I want to do things naturally. Anyhoo, thank you for this article on hair health and the interconnected-ness of everything (circulation, digestion – our gut brain). Love your phrase as well, it’s not what we eat, it is what we digest and assimilate that is important to our body.