Here’s how you eat your way to a better, manlier mane.
For Strength: Pump up the Protein
Strong hair is great hair; mostly because strong hair grows longer, looks thicker, and doesn’t break or shed.
Start with a steady diet of healthy protein, according to Stephanie Middleberg, founder of Middleberg Nutrition and author of The Big Book of Organic Baby Food. (We can attest - her toddler has great hair.)
“Men don’t have as big an issue with this as women do,” she says, “but it’s important to have some protein with every meal and every snack to keep the hair follicles strong.”
Prescription: poultry, fish, beans, nuts, and grass-fed beef.
For Health: Get Your B Vitamins
You may have heard of people fighting hair loss by taking biotin—also known as vitamin B7 and, confusingly, as vitamin H. Experts disagree on whether or not biotin alone can turn things around, but the B-complex group of vitamins are critical for healthy skin and hair.
“We produce more of our own B’s when we’re younger,” says Middleberg, “and less as we age … and they’re key because they form the basis of your hair cells.”
So give things a boost. Think nuts, eggs, oats and sweet potato.
For Body and Shine: Keep the Cells Happy
A trace mineral called silica has been positively linked to hair growth. (It also heals broken bones faster. Who knew?)
“Silica strengthens the body’s connective tissue - including hair,” says Middleberg.
Good sources: cucumber, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, mango, celery, and leeks.
And while we’re on the topic of vegetables: “Whenever you’re talking about hair, skin or nails, you have to get in the big antioxidants,” says Middleberg. “You need things that fight free radicals that come from the sun and airborne pollutants and attack cell membranes.”
To get those antioxidants and omega-3s, turn to green, leafy vegetables. (Have some spinach with that steak.)
Pull it All Together: Fix Your Gut
Finally, there are steps you can take to absorb all this good stuff you’re eating.
“Your digestive system contains good and bad bacteria,” says Middleberg, “and you want more good than bad so you can best absorb the nutrients you’re taking in.”
You could take a probiotic, or get the same good bacteria from fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir (an even more potent source than its cousin, yogurt).
Fermented, you say? Does beer count? Maybe. If it’s unfiltered, unpasteurized, and made without any additives. So skip the red wine and grab a brew with your beef.
The article What You Should Eat to Get Great Hair was originally published on MensHealth.com