We are what we eat. What we eat can impact how we feel, how our skin looks, how we operate. And it can play a big role in how healthy our hair and teeth are. But food can also help to keep locks shiny when we apply it topically.
So here are the foods you might want to start filling up on to maintain good oral hygiene and healthy hair.
For optimum oral health
Some of us are born with weaker teeth than others – that’s undeniable. But there’s so much we can do to look after the teeth and gums we have and to minimise the potential for damage.
You want to avoid feeding the bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. When you eat sugars or starchy carbs, those come in contact with plaque and acids form. Those acids can attack your teeth for over 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating and continued attacks result in breaking down the hard enamel on the surface of your teeth – leading to tooth decay!
One useful tip to start implementing during lockdown: brush or rinse your mouth out after eating. Brush your teeth after lunch and give your teeth a good swill after you’ve had a snack. If you can, invest in a water pick – a water-fuelled spray which pumps water into the gaps between your teeth to get rid of any small food bits.
You want to fill up on:
- Fibre-rich fruits and veggies: fibre keeps your teeth and gums clean and gets your saliva going. Saliva contains traces of calcium and phosphate so anything that gets those juices running is good.
- Dairy: cheese is another saliva maker and it’s also high in calcium and phosphate which can help to rebuild tooth enamel.
- Nuts: if you don’t eat dairy, there are plenty of calcium-rich plant-based foods like nuts, beans, tofu, tempeh and tahini.
- Green and black tea: contain polyphenols that can kill or hold back plaque bacteria. Just make sure that you’re not adding any sugar to your tea!
- Water: our water contains fluoride which helps our teeth stay strong. Drink at least two litres a day.
Try to reduce your consumption of:
- Fizzy pop: they’re either loaded with sugar or acids which destroy tooth enamel. Try to switch to soda water if you need a hit of fizz.
- White carbs: soft breads and crisps can get trapped between your teeth and they also feed the bad bacteria.
- Sweets: if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to rinse your mouth out quickly after eating. Switch to dark chocolate (70% cacao and above) for a less harmful hit. You’re much better off eating your sugary foods with your meals rather than as a snack or hours later.
- Alcohol: dries the mouth out and is often high in sugar. Drink water alongside your boozy tipple and be sure to rehydrate before bed.
For healthier hair
If your hair feels rancid at the moment, join the club. Hair can become dry and brittle for any number of reasons – from diet and hormonal changes to stress and overfishing.
Many of us can’t get to our hairdressers to have it cut or treated so we’ve got to do what we can ourselves. Lots of the foods that are good for us to eat are amazing at helping our hair repair and grow.
Black tea, for example, can help to balance out scalp oil production. Compounds in the tea and naturally rebalance pH levels on the scalp – helping to reduce excess oil. It’s is also thought to be helpful in reducing hair shedding. It contains natural properties that can help to block the hormone DHT – the pesky chemical behind hair shedding.
Avocados are full of good fats and vitamin E – fantastic for moisturising and softening dry hair.
Honey is antibacterial and a natural humectant which means that it attracts moisture and stops it from escaping. That means that even if your hair is super damaged and dry, a dose of the sweet stuff can help the hair repair.
When you’ve got a free evening, have a go at the following deep conditioning routine.
- A large cup of black or green tea (not too hot!)
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of almond or olive oil
- Shower cap
- Mix your banana, avocado, honey and oil in a big bowl with a spoon or stick in your food processor to quickly blend into a smooth paste.
- Stick your head over your bath or sink, and pour the cup of tea over your hair – concentrated at the roots and scalp.
- Next, towel-dry your hair and then apply the prepared mixture all over your hair and scalp before overing with the shower cap.
- Leave for 30 minutes.
- Give your hair a gentle shampoo and conditioner or if it’s really dry, just use some conditioner and rinse well.
In terms of promoting hair growth from within, you want to prioritise lean proteins, fruits high in antioxidants and good fats rich in vitamin E.
Eggs contain lots of protein and biotin – two nutrients that can promote hair growth, while oily fish contains lots of omega-3s which help with repair and regeneration. Nuts and seeds are high in vitamin E while berries contain tonnes of vitamin C. Antioxidants can help to protect hair follicles from free radical damage, while vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron. If you’re low on iron, you’re more at risk of hair loss.