Nutrition for Healthy Hair

This is an excerpt from an article I did about a year ago for Vital Source, Life University’s on campus newspaper. I thought a lot of you may enjoy!

Nourishing the hair with a healthy diet:

  1. Protein: The hair is made of a particular type of protein known as keratin. Consuming adequate protein is necessary for growth and strength. The best high protein sources include but are not limited to eggs, fish, poultry, lean cuts of beef, and low fat dairy.
  2. Biotin: The body needs biotin to for a healthy scalp and growth. Deficiencies in Biotin are actually rare so contrary to popular belief supplementation is not necessary. Great sources include eggs, peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, wild salmon, and avocado.
  3. Other B Vitamins: These are all important for red blood cell production which carries oxygen to the scalp promoting hair growth. Sources include fortified cereals, garbanzo beans, wild salmon, tuna, eggs, cheese, and oatmeal.
  4. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is necessary for the absorption of iron which also delivers oxygen with red blood cells to hair follicles for proper growth. Vitamin C is abundant in bell peppers, kiwis, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli.
  5. Beta carotene: Beta Carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which is necessary for all the stages of cellular life giving the hair body and shine. Sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, apricots, and red bell peppers.  
  6.  Zinc: This mineral gives stability to the oil glands of the scalp allowing for proper growth and prevents dry scalp which can lead to dandruff. Great sources of this mineral include crab, pork tenderloin, peanut butter, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts.
  7. Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 is excellent for adding moisture to the hair follicles allowing the hair to grow with that beautiful luster! Sources include salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseed, mackerel, and sardines.


Shampoo Basics

  1. Always choose shampoos free of harsh chemicals such as sulfates. Sulfates have a poignant drying effect that can lead to breakage, lack of shine and even hair loss! Sulfate free brands include Burt’s Bees, Alba, Organix, and L’Oreal Ever pure.
  2. Do not wash your hair everyday. I know this is very hard for many people who have naturally oily hair or who get sweaty working out. Washing the hair every day leads to dry, dull, lifeless hair because it strips the hair of its natural oils. The follicles do not have enough time in twenty fours hours to secrete proper amounts of oil for healthy hair growth. Experiment with up dos that can be sporty or even elegant.
  3. A great way to avoid washing your hair is using a dry shampoo. These can be purchased or home made, which is a plus because it is cheap and natural! Mix equal amounts of baking soda and cornstarch. Dip a comb in, tap, and brush around roots or dry hair to stop that “greasy” look. Repeat as necessary. Use a dryer to blow away excess powder. Style as usual.


Conditioning Treatments

  1. Treating the hair to a nice conditioning treatment once a week is essential for adding much needed moisture for shine and softness. Try using an all natural deep conditioner such as Burt’s Bees. Shampoo hair as usual and apply conditioner. Allow to sit at least ten to twenty minutes. Depending on how dry your hair may be, you can leave it on even longer! If you have oily hair, focus on applying the conditioner to the ends.
  2. For a nice homemade conditioning treatment apply a mashed avocado to clean wet hair and follow directions above. Another great home made conditioner is applying a mashed banana mixed with plain yogurt to clean wet hair. Allow to sit as above. 


Boosting Shine

  1. Always use only slightly warm water on hair because the hotter the water is, the more it can dry out your hair by removing moisture. A quick shine booster is to simply rinse hair with cold water after you have conditioned it.
  2. Tea treatments are excellent for shine. Use cooled brewed tea the matches your hair color such as chamomile tea for blonde, rooibos tea for red hair, and black tea for brunettes. Apply to wet hair, allow to soak for approximately ten minutes, shampoo out, and condition.
  3. For a home made hot oil shine treatment apply warmed (but not HOT) olive oil, avocado oil, or any other carrier oil to wet hair. Allow to sit for about two minutes, shampoo out and condition.


Hopefully these tips will get you well own your way to having not only beautiful but healthy hair as well. You do not have to spend large amounts of money on hair products to attain the hair you want. Eating a healthy diet and following healthy practices with shampooing and conditioning can greatly improve those locks!

1) Bauer, J. (2007). Food cures. New York: Rodale Inc..


How to save calories at Starbucks???

Oh yes even people in Nassau, Bahamas love their Starbucks! Ok maybe it is just there for the tourists…

So my friends and family know that I openly admit to being addicted to Starbucks!

 But wait Ashley, how do you drink so many lattes and not gain weight? I know, I know: How do I do this when they have white chocolate mochas totaling to 370 calories for a tall and tall sized frappucchino’s for 400 calories?

Here are just a few of my favorite tips:

  • Ask for non-fat milk, simple enough right?
  • Never order anything above a Grande unless you know you have the calories to spare. But really a Venti? Do you need that much milk (calorie wise) at once ? Hot Grandes and Ventis both only get 2 shots anyway….(thanks Jen)
  • Try to limit yourself to only 4 times per week-make coffee or espresso at home. Yes I have a hard time sticking to this rule. Some weeks I do, some I don’t!
  • Always skip the whip
  • When ordering a Pumpkin Spice latte or any other flavored latte
    • A tall gets 3 pumps of syrup, ask for 1
    • A grande gets 4 pumps of syrup, ask for 1 or 2
    • A venti gets 5 pumps of syrup, ask for 3 but this is really too much as we have already discussed!
      • How do I order this????
  • Grande non-fat 2 pump Caramel Latte or Tall non-fat 1 pump Toffee nut latte!
  • Different syrups have different amounts of calories
    • Most flavored syrups: 20 calories per pump
    • Mocha: 25 per pump
    • Pumpkin Spice: about 38 per pump
    • White Mocha: about 60 per pump! Avoid this syrup!
  • So if you ordered a Grande Non-fat Caramel Latte, the total calorie count is 200! That is 80 calories of added sugar (4 pumps). But when you only get 1 or 2 pumps of caramel syrup that is 140 to 160 calories. So yes you are only saving 40 to 60 calories. But if you do this consistently, it adds up!    
  • Compare a Regular Tall Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2% and whip: 300 calories!
  • A Non-fat, 1 pump Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whip: about 130 calories
  • If you ordered this beverage everyday of the week:
    • Regular: 2100 calories total
    • “Light Version”: 910 calories total
    • That’s 1190 calories saved for a whole week! Hello that’s 2, even 3 meals for some people!

  • Some drinks come with whip some don’t. You do not have to say no whip to drinks that don’t come with it but to be sure they don’t add it you can go ahead and say it. But for reference here is a list of drinks that come with whip: mocha, white mocha, pumpkin spice, cinnamon dolce  
  • What about sugar free syrups? If you can stand the after taste, be my guest. I would rather have a little of the real thing.
  • Caramel Macchiatos! I know this drink is confusing. Macchiatos get one less pump of vanilla syrup on the inside because they have caramel sauce added up top. But I don’t think a Grande needs 3 pumps of vanilla syrup and caramel sauce. My favorite drink: Grande non-fat 1-pump vanilla caramel macchiato. Yes I’m complicated; they hate to see me coming. But my waistline loves me.
  • Frappucchino’s: well now you can customize these to be made with non-fat milk, ask for no whip, and cut down on the syrup pumps if you are getting anything other than a plain coffee frappucchino. The base they use to make these drinks still has lots of sugar so there really is no way around that. Your best bet is to stick with hot or iced lattes.
  • Another thing is to not consider a latte a side beverage. Consider it a snack or part of a meal to tally into your total intake for the day as it contains useful (energy) calories from the milk. The sugar if added will be discretionary (empty) calories.

If you are used to drinking the drinks like they come then yes a lot of this will be a major adjustment! But once you cut down on sugar for a long period of time you will get used to it. You will make a face just like you just tasted something sour when you taste something overly sweet. There is no need to drink your calories when there is all that food out there just waiting to be eaten! Ha ha, just kidding! But for the most part, if you are trying to lose weight or not gain weight, chewing is more satisfying. Be smart about your beverages. There is nothing wrong with a skim latte with a little bit of sugar in your diet. You will get protein, calcium, and carbohydrates from the milk plus energy with the caffeine.

Good luck on customizing your Starbucks order! I know you can do it!