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Ask The Expert: How To Grow Long, Healthy Hair + 7 Best Foods For Hair Growth

  • Published on: 03 September, 2014
  • Last update: 26 January, 2016
 Hair is a huge part of our lives and something that many women, including myself, spend a lot of time maintaining and styling. When I first transitioned to an organic, toxin-free lifestyle, I didn’t even think about my hair products. Although I was eating clean, I was still dying my hair with harsh bleach and using hairsprays that were harmful to both my lungs and the environment. Did you know that the chemicals you use on your body cycle through your blood stream within 26 seconds? Once I found this out, I knew there had to be a better way to beautify my locks. That’s when Mauricio swooped into my life like an organic hair angel and showed me the ropes! He taught me all about the toxins in shampoo and dye, and his natural alternatives worked just as well if not better than the products I was afraid to give up. Who better to teach my blog readers about hair tips and advice than the man who taught me himself?! I decided to write this post with him to give you some insight from the both of us!

Mauricio’s background: Mauricio Cifuentes is an eco-certified organic hairstylist who owns the first and only organic, non-toxic salon in New York City, located on 5th Avenue. Why did he decide to go organic? “My role goes beyond hair styling,” he says. “Awareness, integrity and a logical purpose are key. This means possessing a deep understanding of hair needs/problems, and properly treating it with gentle ingredients that nourish and beautify without compromising the health of my clients.” He connects the harsh chemicals like ammonia, formaldehyde, sulfates and high concentrations of PPD’s that are found in conventional products to allergies, skin irritations, extensive damage to the hair shaft. “Right now, everybody thinks going organic is a trend, but it’s way more than that. It’s a lifestyle. Everyday people feel more conscious about what they want to put in and on their bodies.” Mauricio recognized this shift in consciousness and is revolutionizing the hair world with products and methods that not only protect his clients but employees as well! To book an appointment with Mauricio, call
(212) 532-3030. 

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How Can I Grow Long, Healthy Hair?

This is a question that both Mauricio and I receive very often. Everyone wants long hair, but many of us run into problems with growth, excessive shedding, and more. So how does your health affect your hair? What vitamins/foods/measures can you take for your health that will also positively impact your hair?

“It’s a fact that the condition of our health can be reflected in our hair texture,” says Mauricio. He notices that clients who take prescription medications every day tend to have many issues such as scalp sensitivity, dryness, and lifeless hair. From my own experience I recognize dandruff and a dry/sensitive scalp as a symptom of systemic yeast/candida overgrowth, which is a very common side effect of pharmaceuticals! Gut health is directly related to the health of our entire body, including our hair. If you are currently on prescription medication, my advice always is to seek a natural alternative (curezone.org is a great forum and source). In the meantime, be sure to take a probiotic to repopulate beneficial gut flora, thus re-balancing your scalp environment. This will help not only scalp health but hair growth as a whole, because you need beneficial bacteria to digest and create nutrients for your locks!

Different prescription medications can deplete us of different vitamins. Even aspirin can leave us with low levels of things like B1 and Vitamin C. We had a lot of people ask us about thinning/dry hair, and this is due to how many prescriptions, antibiotics, and pain relievers we take. All drugs are anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are substances that bind to other nutrients, making them useless. They also tie up enzymes needed in digestion and other body functions. Some cause problems by creating a greater need for certain nutrients. Others cause nutrients to be excreted more rapidly from the body. The chart below will give you an idea of which nutrients are depleted by different prescriptions:

If you are taking one (or several) of these, a great idea would be to replenish the nutrients the drug is removing from your body. For example, if you’re taking an antibiotic, you should find nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that contain, vitamin A, B12, etc. These foods can be found through a simple Google search, i.e. “foods high in vitamin A”. Eat and especially juice the fruits or vegetables containing the vitamins you need to counteract the drug’s ill effects.

Parasites

Each and every person living on planet Earth at the moment is suffering from parasites (most without knowing it). Our grandparents and their grandparents used to partake in regular parasite cleansing. You may have heard them mention this when referring to “that nasty castor oil!” However, for almost 3 generations we have not been parasite cleansing. What’s worse is that as a nation and world, we are all suffering from some form of immunodepression via the air we breathe, food we eat, and water we drink. We are surrounded by pollutants, plastic, smog, pesticides, and tons of other things that lower our immune system each and every day. As soon as the immune system is lowered, parasites immediately burrow deeper into the body and reproduce at rates of 200,000 eggs per day. And yes, we are ALL infected. I have seen them come out of me and my loved ones, as well as my blog readers who have sent me pictures (haha). This is an epidemic, and parasites are the cause for almost every disease we see today. ALS, MS, autism, asthma, IBS, Crohn’s disease, you name it. Parasites eat up your food and thus all of your nutrients. This means that your hair isn’t getting the omega 3’s from that flaxseed smoothie you made this morning! Before you start to supplement nutrients into your body, you must do a parasite cleanse to make sure you’re actually utilizing them. To read about more about how everyone has parasites, click here, and to read about how I did my first parasite cleanse, click here. I am currently experimenting on myself after watching this lecture on how parasites and pathogens cause autism, and will have a much better, updated cleanse protocol to share with you very soon.

Supplements

The supplement that Mauricio recommends the most is biotin. This is also known as vitamin H and it is one of the essential vitamins for hair growth. It is part of the vitamin B complex group, and works by metabolizing fatty acids which are also crucial for various bodily functions and the growth of hair. Biotin is commonly found in egg yolks, liver, kidney, yeast and milk, although you can choose to take it in supplement form as well. Take 5mg per day, and be sure to eat at least 20g of protein per day.

Another route to try would be Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA). This lesser known nutrient from vitamin B complex family is found to be beneficial in fighting against premature graying of hair. Studies showed that animals develop grey hair in the absence of this vitamin, whereas color is restored as soon as the animal is reintroduced to PABA. Deficiency in PABA in combination with Folic Acid and Pantothenic Acid may result in discoloration of hair at premature stage, whereas a diet rich in vitamin B complex can restore the color in time. Grass-fed liver is the best place to find this vitamin.

Of course, Vitamin C is also my answer for everything and I recommend it for every ailment on the planet. None of us get near the amount we should, and many of us have no idea that it’s related to collagen production. Collagen surrounds the hair strands but as we age collagen breaks down, causing hair to be more vulnerable to breaking. The best way to boost collagen is to take a highly available form of Vitamin C, such as Advanced Liposomal Vitamin C. I swear by it!

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7 Best Foods for Hair Growth

1. Wild Salmon – Shiny, strong hair needs beneficial fats and essential fatty acids to grow. Wild fish is loaded with hair supporters like Vitamin D and protein, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids that help restart hair growth, help hair grow quicker and stronger—even prevent or reverse hair loss. Both DHA and EPA are produced by our bodies from omega-3s, and are vital for the nourishment of hair follicles.

2. Red Bell Peppers – Red bell peppers have nearly five and a half times more vitamin C than oranges! Vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens the hair shaft and hair follicles, and of course boosts collagen production as stated above.

3. Shellfish/Oysters – Zinc deficiency has been noted to cause hair loss and poor scalp conditions. Oysters are chock full of this essential nutrient: three ounces contain 493% of your daily value.

4. Eggs – Eggs contain omega-3s AND biotin, pretty much deeming them a hair superfood. Make sure you eat the yolks, because eating too many egg whites can actually block the absorption of bioti.

5. Sweet Potatoes – My Chinese doctor eats a sweet potato every single morning. And her hair is down to her butt! She says that they are a superfood for women and can improve the health of your entire body, especially when eaten before 11 AM. Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene, the precursor for vitamin A that not only promotes a healthy scalp but also hair growth.

6. Almonds – Almonds will make your hair grow faster and thicker due to their high biotin content, and also contain Vitamin E and zinc.

7. Sunflower Seeds – The holy grail of Vitamin E! Eat a few every day for strong skin, hair, and nails.

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9 Comments

emily

Reply
Love this. What do you recommend I put on my scalp for long periods of time as a hair mask to help with shedding? I think you’ve mentioned castor oil?

Hair

Reply
I like using a very simple hair mask with olive oil. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on my hair and comb your hair carefully. Wait for about 30 minutes, then use your hands to massage the hair gently for 1-2 minutes. Wash off with water. That’s all. I apply this 2 times per week.

Anonymous

Reply
Such a great article! I've read about parasites and dandruff in the past. Do you know any non-toxic hair care brands you can recommend?

Olivia A.

Reply

Hi! Thank you so much. Parasites/candida and dandruff are always related. A garlic oil scalp treatment can greatly help. My favorite non-toxic shampoo/conditioner is handmade from "Wonder Weeds" on Etsy. Original Mineral is a wonderful bigger brand as well. 🙂

Audrina K

Reply
So much helpful information, thanks Olivia! Definitely going to eat more of these foods now, my hair is more damaged after staying in the sun for too long this summer!<br /><br />http://www.mindfullyaudrina.blogspot.com/

Olivia A.

Reply

Thank you so much Audrina! You have a lovely blog!!

Anonymous

Reply
love your blog and all your posts! i just have a question, i have identified with alot of the symptoms cause by parasites but i am a breast feeding mother, is there any way of doing a parasite cleanse safely? i have started by cutting out sugar although i do still have two pieces of fruit first thing in the morning.

Olivia A.

Reply

Thank you so much! For now while you are breastfeeding it&#39;s best to wait. Sometimes toxins or even the herbs can transfer into the breast milk. It may only be traces, but of course we would never want the baby to be ingesting anything but milk! Cutting out sugar is a great start, and you are doing everything right by having it first thing in the morning. Fruit digests the fastest, so if you

Carissa Alvarado

Reply
Great read! I&#39;ve been googling for days trying to find ways to help my hair grow faster 🙂

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