The How-to of Healthy Hair

"Stress plays a huge role in hair health as it creates acid in our body. Condition of your hair also reflects the health of your kidneys to some degree." ~ Janella Purcell

We all want thick, glossy and healthy hair, but sadly this isn’t always what we have. There are a few factors contributing to this, some of which are really easy to fix.

Stress of course plays a huge role as it creates acid in our body, but in this case also because the condition of your hair reflects the health of your kidneys to some degree, and the emotions stored in this organ are anxiety and fear. So if you’re inclined to run on adrenalin and live in a state of ‘OMG something bad is going to happen at any minute’, then this needs to change. We need our bodies in an alkaline state most of the time, and this means a pH of 7-ish. This means we need to be feeling calm, happy, peaceful and in control of our lives.

Other things that affect the health of our hair are poor nutrition, sleep deprivation and illness. Your hair will go through a natural change every seven years, so don’t expect your hair always to be the same – adrenalin or not. Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, are also likely to affect your hair. A bit of hair loss is normal but if you are losing a lot of hair, see your healthcare practitioner.

Stress of course plays a huge role as it creates acid in our body, but in this case also because the condition of your hair reflects the health of your kidneys to some degree, and the emotions stored in this organ are anxiety and fear.

Using chemical filled hair care makes it impossible to have healthy hair and scalp. These products are very similar to commercial household cleaning products (also toxic). They are harsh and strip your hair and scalp of its natural oils and vitality. Go for products that are sulphate and paraben -free—there are many available these days. Most of these commercial products also contain palm oil, which we want to avoid also. So look at getting natural or organic shampoo, conditioner, and any product you like to use in your hair – de-frizzer, detangler, hair spray, dry shampoo, wax, mousse, styling gel – all of it needs to be natural.

Mukti Botanique Shampoo

While we’re on hair products, what about your colour? This is one of the most toxic of them all, so look for a salon or a product form a health food store that uses only natural ingredients. I realise your colour may be the last thing you change. To cover greys, you can get a powder (in different colours) from salons that you brush on when you want to. It will last the day or two, or wash out. The one I have seen isn’t 100% natural, but it’s better than colouring your hair with toxic chemicals just to cover a few greys.

A nice weekly or monthly routine to get into is to rub coconut oil through your hair and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on for an hour to all day then wash it (twice) with your lovely chemical free shampoo, then rise with 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar that’s been diluted in about a cup of water. Finally condition your hair—but only through the ends, as our roots tend to get oily faster than the ends. Plus most commercially produced conditioners contain chemicals that can clog the pores on your scalp, preventing it from breathing….hair loss! You can do the apple cider vinegar part each time you wash your hair, especially if you suffer with dandruff. For short and really short hair you can just do the apple cider vinegar and nothing else.

A nice weekly or monthly routine to get into is to rub coconut oil through your hair and massage it into your scalp. Leave it on for an hour to all day then wash it (twice) with your lovely chemical free shampoo, then rise with 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar that’s been diluted in about a cup of water.

Note – It’s better to rinse the vinegar through as the final stage, that is, after conditioning, but some people don’t like the vinegary smell. To prevent this you could add a few drop of an essential oil or use lemon juice instead of water to dilute it. Or as I’ve written above and do it prior to conditioning.

The sun does damage our hair and as we get older this becomes more apparent. Wear a hat to protect you hair (and skin) from damage. Brushing your hair 100 times a day might be an ol’ wives tale but that’s why it’s spot on. Give your hair a really good brush daily. If a brush makes your hair frizzy then do this just before you wash it, or before bed. Use a soft brush with round bristles. This will keep the circulation of blood to your scalp working well thereby keeping your hair follicles healthy.

Brushing your hair 100 times a day might be an ol’ wives tail but that’s why it’s spot on. Give your hair a really good brush daily.

We're giving away five of these Lady Jane brushes in an upcoming post! Subscribe or like us on Facebook for updates.
We’re giving away five of these Lady Jane brushes in an upcoming post! Subscribe or like us on Facebook for updates.

Food for Great Hair

• For hair health and growth include lots of B vitamins from foods like brown rice and other wholegrains, oats and millet, legumes, seeds and peanuts, avocado, sustainable oily fish like mackerel and sardines, nori, shellfish, sunflower seeds and dark-leafy green vegetables.
• For improving the texture of dry and brittle hair – essential fatty acids from whole grains, legumes, fresh nuts and seeds, dark leafy green vegetables, spirulina, flaxseed and hemp oil and pumpkin and chia seeds.
• To improve circulation to the scalp eat foods high in Vitamin C like camu camu, gubinge, and vitamin E foods like nuts and seeds and their oils, by increasing oxygen uptake.
• For growth through improved immunity eat foods high in zinc – alfalfa, nuts, oysters, mushrooms, brown rice and whole grains stimulates hair growth by improving immunity.

Lifestream_Certified Organic_Bioactive_Spirulina_Balance_500mg_$25.50RRP• Micro-greens like spirulina, wheatgrass and barley grass for their mineral-dense nature, which will promote hair growth.
• Protein-rich foods are important for growth – hemp seeds, organic soy products, legumes, organic eggs and quark.
• Biotin deficiency has been linked to hair loss and skin problems—foods high in biotin are brown rice, peas, lentils, oats, organic soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts.
• Seaweed is packed with minerals to promote growth – arame, nori, dulse, korengo fronds and wakame also promote gloss and prevent loss.
• Mulberries strengthen the liver and kidneys, thereby preventing premature greying and hair loss.

Foods to Avoid

• Raw eggs contain a protein called avidin, which binds to biotin and stops it from being absorbed—cooked eggs are okay.
• Sugar and refined grains are is highly acidic, destroying B vitamins and decreasing minerals, leading to unhealthy hair.
• GMO foods.
• Trans-fats in packaged foods and take away

Herbal Medicine

• Sage tea mixed with apple cider vinegar massaged into your scalp, will help hair grow.
• Licorice root may prevent loss; avoid in cases of high blood pressure.
• Horsetail contains silica, which makes hair strong and shiny. Take a supplement or drink as a tea.
• Stinging nettle made into a tea and massaged into the scalp will stimulate hair follicles.
• Herbs for your adrenal glands will help – Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice Root.
• A herb to balance hormones called Chaste Tree.
• St. Johns Wort, Passionflower, Hops, Kava, Magnolia, Chamomile to help deal with stress and anxiety. ‘Practitioner–only’ brands are stronger.

Supplements

• Coenzyme Q10 improves oxygenation and circulation to the scalp.
• Zinc is the mineral to think of when it comes to your hair.
• Silica for strong and shiny hair.

Lifestyle Factors

• Use natural hair care products—commercial products will slowly but surely weaken your hair and rid it of its natural oils. Look for sulphate and parable free products, or buying organic will ensure you’re safe.
• Keep your thyroid healthy by getting enough iodine in your diet. Seaweed is a good source. Hypothyroidism can cause your hair to fall out.
• Avoid fluoride in tap water. Get a good filter.
• Get a good brush with soft, round bristles and brush your hair daily.
• If you colour your hair, use a natural products—available from health food stores and some salons.
• Be gentle with your hair when it’s wet as it is more elastic and will break easily.
• Massage your scalp regularly.
• Headstands, and other inverted yoga poses, encourage improved circulation to the head.
• Wash your hair only when really necessary as you can manage, but brush it daily.
• Avoid chlorine from swimming pools and tap water.
• Consider getting a filter for your showerhead. Once tap water from town water is heated the chlorine becomes far more toxic and this can irritate your hair (and skin).
• Avoid always blow drying your hair.
• Treat yourself with a warm oil scalp massage.
• Avoid sleeping with your hair in a ponytail. Let it flow.

Home Remedies

• For damaged, bleached or dull hair, make a paste out of 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon coconut oil, massage into your scalp, leave on for 30 minutes, then rinse with ½ cup acv diluted in water, then and wash as normal.

• To reduce dandruff, mix together olive, coconut and/or flax oils with a bit of yoghurt (sugar free), massage into your scalp and wrap in a hot towel for an hour—keep reheating the towel when it cools down.

To look great on the outside we know by now that the inside needs to be healthy. This means keeping our body alkaline by eating a mostly plant-based, organic diet. Your Exposure to chemicals needs to be reduced, as does stress. You could most likely be getting a little bit sleep and light, regular exercise. And above all find balance in your life. Stress and extra weight just make everything worse so find out what brings you joy, and do that more often. And don’t forget those 100 brush strokes.

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A sought-after naturopath, nutritionist, medical herbalist, iridologist and chef, Janella Purcell has been a regular on Australian television with appearances on Masterchef, and as the “good chef” on Good Chef, Bad Chef. She is also a regular contributor, columnist for many of Australia’s best-loved magazines including Nourish, Woman’s Day and Good Medicine magazines. As an author, Janella has three best-selling books, including Eating for the Seasons, which won the “best health and nutrition” category at the International Gourmand Awards. Janella’s Wholefood Kitchen was also shortlisted for the prestigious award. Her latest is Janella's Super Natural Foods. She is also the much-loved ambassador of Lifestream wholefood supplements, a brand she has personally used for almost two decades. Janella has combined her vast knowledge of food and nutrition to create a multi-disciplined approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to a core philosophy of food as medicine, Janella teaches how to get the most out of our meals – and how to avoid the pitfalls. She has been working with wholefoods since childhood and honing special diets for the past 15 years. Besides her wholefood workshops, media appearances and online work, Janella can be found consulting with clients at her Natural Food and Medicine Store in Sydney’s Surry Hills, as well as from her clinic in Bangalow, Northern New South Wales.

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