Most women that come in to see me for hair loss have spent hours researching female hair loss online and have tried a number of treatments already including, but not limited to, scalp massage, hair masks, coconut oil, minoxidil products (like Rogaine), shampoos that claim to improve hair health thicken or stimulate growth, vitamins, PRP treatments, sometimes even hair transplant surgery. However, it is very unlikely that someone tells me they have increased their protein intake in hopes of improving their hair.
This is crazy if you consider the fact that 90% of our hair is made of a protein called keratin. You have probably heard of keratin before because it is in a lot of different shampoos and hair treatments, but I bet you did not know that it was the name of the protein that comprises 90% of your hair! Protein is very important for the rest of our body as well. 20% of our entire body is made up of protein so when you are not eating enough of it, your body starts to take it from areas it deems less essential, such as hair, for areas it deems more essential like brain function. Your body then starts taking the protein from your hair so that other areas function optimally. This results in cracks in the hair leading to dull and brittle hair. This can even change the texture of your hair causing curly hair to become frizzy and straight hair to be become limp and difficult to style.
I bet you are starting to understand why protein is the MOST important ingredient for healthy hair! The American Dietetic Association recommends that adults should get 0.8-1 g/lb of body weight. That is a lot of protein!
The first step to achieving healthy hair is to write down everything you eat in a day and calculate how many grams of protein that equates to. Then you can figure out if you need to increase protein intake and come up with a game plan. Below is the protein content of some common foods to get you started!
Once your diet is on track, add a protein treatment to your hair care routine. There are plenty of Keratin containing treatments that you can purchase and do at home or at a salon, but something as simple as beating an egg and applying it to your hair every 2 weeks can make a world of difference. The protein will fill in all the cracks in the hair shaft resulting in healthier more lustrous hair! The results will go even further if you apply heat with a blow-dryer since the heat will help the protein penetrate beyond the surface.
So next time you reach for a bag of chips, opt for Greek yogurt instead. Your waistline and your hair will thank you!
Posted by Diana Gallerani, NP