Go natural for longer, voluminous tresses

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If you have a healthy crop, your typical hair growth would be approximately half-an-inch per month. But if your hair is not growing as rapidly, a few lifestyle changes can go a long way in changing the way your hair grows. Read on to get that envious long mane.

Herbs and Plants
Sage, rosemary, gooseberry, aloe vera and henna are among those herbs and plants that are touted to be hair and scalp restorers. However, according to city-based dermatologist Dr Geeta Oberoi, use them selectively. “Henna dries up the hair and leaves it dry. Instead, go for aloe vera, which is an anti-irritant that helps in soothing the scalp. Another herb that works is saw palmetto — native to South-Eastern US — it should be used in a tablet form because it has been scientifically proven to block DHT, a metabolite of testosterone that is related to hair loss,” says Oberoi.

Oil Massages
Essential oils such as almond or cold-pressed coconut and olive oil stimulate the scalp. A few minutes of massage can increase circulation to the scalp, keeping the follicles healthy.

Check your hormones
Low levels of oestrogen or high levels of testosterone (these are usually related to each other) can lead to thinner, weaker or even hair loss in women. The same could happen as a result of imbalanced thyroid levels. See your gynaecologist or GP for a blood test to see if your hormones are all in order.

Food for long hair
Your hair gives away your health. The way to a good mane is a balanced diet. As per Dr Amrapali Patil, yoga expert and nutritionist, the quality of your hair mostly depends on your genes. However, pollution and diet play a major role in their upkeep. “Two components that are essential for hair growth are iron and biotene. Consuming iron-rich foods like lean red meats and dark green veggies increase the hair’s growth cycle, meaning it will grow for a greater period of time. Iron also delivers oxygen to hair follicles, which further boosts growth,” says Dr Patil. Including nuts like walnuts and almonds go a long way in keeping Omega-3 and Omega-6 levels in check. “Mindfulness is the buzzword for healthy living. Watching what you eat, enough sleep and exercising moderately are the essential things one must incorporate in daily life,” she says.

Consume more protein
Since hair is made mostly of protein, and protein deficiency causes hair loss, it stands to reason that adding protein to your diet — plenty of fish, egg whites, animal products and dairy — will stimulate growth. Vegans and vegetarians should consume plenty of tofu, pulses and nuts for natural protein, but a good protein powder can help.

Increase your intake of Omega-3
Another element crucial to hair health is Omega-3 fatty acids, which facilitate the production and action of hormones and oily lubricants that lead to a healthy scalp and bouncy, shiny hair. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds and their oils.

More vitamin supplements
Healthy hair also requires lots of vitamins. A and B-complex vitamins promote vibrant, shiny hair; B12 can neutralise premature hair loss; vitamin C helps strengthen hair and avoid premature greying; vitamin D facilitates healthy follicle growth; vitamin E helps maintain a healthy, moisturised scalp, and trace minerals like selenium and magnesium contribute too. Whole organic cereals, pulses and deeply-hued organic vegetables (carrots, spinach, beets and red peppers) are rich in vitamins.

Eat more spicy food
There is a theory that says that capsaicin — the spicy element in hot peppers — may promote hair growth by attracting blood and nutrients to the scalp, and by promoting the release of histamines that stimulate cell division and hair growth. One study states that the combination of capsaicin and soy isoflavone produces significant hair growth.