Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as Americans flock to grocery stores to purchase traditional staples like turkey, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce to make the day special, many are blissfully unaware that the very foods they are preparing for their traditional feast also play a vital role in promoting hair health. While many factors effect hair, including genetics, and environment, increasing medical evidence points to the gut as the key factor in determining hair growth. We break down your holiday favorites and how they can help protect your hair’s health.
In America, it simply wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the turkey. Norman Rockwell positioned the turkey at the center of his painting, “The Art of Thanksgiving” and with good reason, too. Turkey is packed with key nutrients that support a healthy diet. There are three things that make turkey special to our hair’s health: Protein, Selenium, and B6. Our hair grows from a root located in the bottom of a hair follicle made of cells of protein called keratin. Turkey is packed with protein to help keratin production. In addition to protein, turkey is rich with selenium, a mineral and antioxidant thought to support healthy hair by regenerating antioxidants and neutralizing the free radicals that contribute to the weakening of hair follicles. In addition to killing free radicals and strengthening hair, Selenium is known to kill dandruff-causing fungus and is essential for healthy thyroid function which is necessary to regulate hair growth. Finally, turkey is packed with pyridoxine, also known as B6. B6 plays an important role in helping our bodies to function smoothly and is needed to maintain healthy nerves and red blood cells. Our bodies do not naturally produce B6, so it is essential that we get it through our diet. It’s truly no wonder turkey is the champion of the holiday table.
Commonly served as a condiment alongside turkey, cranberry sauce, whether it comes from a can or is prepared fresh, has many hair health benefits. In addition to its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, cranberry sauce protects our hair against damage from free radicals and harmful molecules that exist both naturally in our body and in the environment. These free radicals are known to block growth and cause our hair to age prematurely. Cranberry sauce is also packed with Vitamin C, which offers powerful antioxidants to protect the scalp. Our body uses Vitamin C to create hair strengthening collagen and to absorb iron, which helps red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout our body. Give your sauce an extra vitamin c boost and add color by serving it with oranges!
While turkey is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, root vegetables are generally the fan favorites. Colorful vegetables like winter squash, orange carrots, and sweet potatoes are filled with beta-carotene, the red-range pigment that gives them their rich color. Our bodies naturally convert beta carotene to Vitamin A, a vitamin known to help the skin glands around the hair follicles to produce sebum, an oily substance that helps to moisturize the scalp and keep hair healthy and aides in preventing internal follicle damage. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of the miracle mineral known as Zinc*. Zinc is responsible for keeping oil glands working properly, and a diet deficient in this mineral is linked to increased hair shedding, alopecia, and male pattern baldness. Zinc aids in cell reproduction and balances hormones, while also aiding in the absorption of vitamins. You can also get zinc by snacking on pumpkin seeds before your Thanksgiving meal!
* Readers should be aware that over-supplementing zinc could have adverse results and cause hair loss.
There is a reason why mom and dad wanted you to eat your vegetables as a kid. Just like cranberry sauce, greens can provide up to 50% of your recommended vitamin c needs to keep you healthy. But it’s not just Vitamin C that makes them special. Greens like kale, green beans, leafy salads, and collard and mustard greens serve as natural super foods for your hair’s health. These greens are rich in Iron, which helps red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. They are also packed with Biotin, cell renewing Folate, Vitamin A and Vitamin E. Biotin and Vitamin E, may promote hair growth and reduce inflammation by enhancing blood flow to the scalp. The antioxidant properties in vitamin E have the potential to support a healthy scalp, to reduce cell damage and to improve hair growth. Add a boost of vitamin E and biotin to your Thanksgiving salad with avocado, hard boiled eggs, almonds or sunflower seeds!
No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without a slice of Pumpkin Pie to end the day. In addition to being rich in beta carotene, Pumpkin (and we’ll go as far as including pie) is filled with healthy vitamins and minerals that promote hair health. Pumpkin is packed with potassium, folate, iron, copper, managanese, and zinc as well as Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E. Potassium is considered a micromineral, but there is nothing micro about its rich benefit to the human body and to your scalp. While the most nutritious way to enjoy the health benefits of pumpkin is through a raw juice, it is the main ingredient in pumpkin pie and can be consumed as a seasonal treat with added benefits.
Another holiday treat, Pecan Pie, may not necessarily benefit your waistline, but it certainly has benefits to your hair health. Nuts are an incredible source of amino acids, which help to improve circulation and relax blood vessels of the scalp. This increased circulation affects the hair’s root and promotes growth. Pecans are also a great source of Iron and are known to reduce inflammation.
SmartGraft by Vision Medical supports all supportive steps of the hair loss process, because when it comes to hair health, we know that prevention is easier than restoration . Happy Thanksgiving. Remember to count your blessings.