Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of holistic healing from India,
is becoming increasingly popular among spas, beauty salons and skin
and hair care manufacturers worldwide because of the efficacy of its
skin and hair care solutions. Ayurvedic recommendations for your
hair are not only effective at maintaining hair strength, color and
luster, they also steer you away from chemicals-based hair care that
can create health problems in the long term.
Healthy hair starts on the inside
Like your skin, your hair needs nutrition from the inside out. If
your diet is deficient in hair-friendly foods, or your digestion is
not efficient, all the expensive shampoos and hair treatments in the
world won't be effective at maintaining the color and longevity of
your hair. So if you want a healthy, shining crown of hair, start by
taking a hard look at what you eat, when you eat and how you eat.
What to Eat for Healthy Hair:
Instead of focusing on specific nutrients or rigid quantities,
ayurveda recommends a medley of wholesome, natural foods as the best
and most palatable way of delivering a variety of nutrients to your
hair. The key is to eat foods that are whole, natural, organic and
1. Include lots of vegetables in your daily diet. Dark leafy
greens, beets, summer squashes, broccoli, carrots and white daikon
radish, and fresh green herbs such as cilantro, mint and basil are
excellent choices for a varied and rich supply of nutrients to your
hair. Dice or chop vegetables and cook them until fork-tender for
better digestibility. Add hair-friendly spices such as cumin and
turmeric to vegetable dishes. Spices not only offer their own
healing wisdom; they also help transport the nutrients from other
foods you eat to the cells and tissues of the body. Vary the
vegetables you eat from day to day.
2. Include lots of fruits in your daily diet. Choose from
different types of berries, citrus fruits, melons and sweet grapes.
Again, vary the fruits you eat from day to day. Soak a handful of
raisins in warm water for about 30 minutes and eat them every morning
to promote regularity, essential for hair health.
3. The coconut is revered in ayurveda for its ability to nourish
the hair and scalp. Premature falling of hair or graying is
associated in ayurveda with an imbalance in Pitta dosha, the heat
principle in the body. To balance the fieriness of Pitta, add fresh
grated coconut to vegetable or grain dishes, and drink the fresh
juice of the young tender coconut. This juice is not only delicious
and refreshing, it offers a variety of nutrients for your hair.
Plus, coconut contains oil that prevents excessive drying out of the
scalp and hair.
4. Dairy products are very nourishing for your hair. Ayurveda
recommends in particular whole milk, fresh (not aged) cheese and
lassi (a drink made by blending fresh yogurt and water). Milk is
traditionally boiled and cooled to a comfortable temperature before
it is drunk to improve digestibility. A type of fresh cheese, called
paneer, can be easily made at home by bringing whole milk to a boil,
curdling it with fresh lemon juice, and straining the mixture through
cheesecloth. Lassi can include a variety of ingredients in addition
to the yogurt and water. To make hair-friendly rosehips lassi for
one, blend together 1/3 cup yogurt, 1 cup water, 3-4 rosehips and raw
sugar or honey to taste. If you choose honey, add it after pouring
your lassi into a glass, and stir it in with a spoon—heat created
during blending can destroy the healing qualities of honey.
5. Whole grains and smaller legumes also offer nourishment to
your hair without overtaxing your digestive system. Mung dhal (split
hulled mung beans) cook quickly and are easy to digest while offering
rich nourishment. Vary the grains you eat, and combine grains,
beans, vegetables, herbs and spices into intensely flavorful,
nutrient-rich one-dish meals that offer a cocktail of nutrients for
6. Include nuts in your daily diet. Soak 8-10 almonds in hot
water, blanch and eat with breakfast every morning. Soaked walnuts
are also good for hair health and color. Ayurveda recommends soaking
nuts before you eat them so that they do not tax your digestion.
7. There are some ayurvedic herbs that are called keshya
rasayanas—herbs that promote the overall health and longevity of your
hair. Amla, or Indian Gooseberry, is particularly revered for its
ability to maintain hair color and strength. Amla is widely
available in tablet or powder form to be taken as a dietary
supplement. Triphala, a traditional ayurvedic combination of three
fruits (of which Amla is one) is also good as a digestive toner and
When and How to Eat
A balanced nutritious diet is definitely your first step towards hair
health and longevity. But step two—eating correctly—is equally vital
in order to give your body the ability to convert the foods you eat
into a form your hair can assimilate and use to stay lustrous,
vibrant and young.
1. Eat the heaviest foods in your diet--those that make your
digestion work hard—in the middle of the day. That's when, according
to ayurveda, your body's digestive ability peaks. Heavy grains,
cheese and legumes should thus mainly be eaten at lunch. Eat lighter
at breakfast—enough to kick-start your digestion, but not so much
that you overload it, and lighter at dinner, when your digestion is
winding down for the night.
2. Cook your meals in a positive frame of mind. Everything is
connected according to ayurveda—if you are angry or stressed when you
prepare your meal, you impart that negative energy to the food; and
your body, and hair, are not likely to see the full benefit from
eating those foods.
3. Eat in a happy, settled frame of mind. Again, if you are
stressed or upset when you eat, that food will not benefit you
fully. Eating in silence, with your focus on the aromas, flavors,
colors and textures on your plate is best, but quiet, pleasant,
nurturing company is also wonderful.
4. Your mealtimes are not times to multi-task. Do not work,
answer the telephone, read, play video or computer games or watch
television while you eat. Do not eat on the go either, as you are
driving or walking or shopping—if you do not give your food your
undivided attention, it will not give your body, including your hair,
all of its benefit.
Paying attention to what, when and how you eat, on an ongoing basis,
is the single best thing you can do to maintain the health and beauty
of your hair naturally. Not only do good foods and good eating
habits promote hair health, they also help build resilience so your
hair can better withstand the damaging effects of environmental
pollution, day-to-day stress and less-than-perfect topical hair care
Note: This material is educational, and is not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical concern,
please consult your physician.
Copyright AyurBalance, Inc. 2003
About The Author
Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor and writer from the Bay Area.
She writes for various publications on yoga and ayurveda. For more
articles on ayurveda, to buy premier ayurvedic products or to
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The information of this page is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for your dermatologist's or professional's advice or treatment. For further details, please read our disclaimer.
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