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Combing Out the Tangles: Nutrition

August 5, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

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Nutrition is a really complicated subject, and I’m not a nutritionist, dietitian or any real kind of expert on the subject. I am, however a conscientious eater, and I try to give my body and beard all the nutrition it needs to be as healthy as possible. I’m going to share some things I’ve learned and some of my opinions regarding nutrition, but I’m certainly open to other ideas.

All of the essential elements that are used to build your beard (and your body for that matter) come from what you eat. Eating a good diet for hair growth, allows me to start out with the healthiest, strongest possible hair that my body can produce. This will make it easier to care for and maintain in the long run. Many of the foods we eat on a daily basis are lacking the vitamins and minerals that we need to be healthy. Some people try to improve their nutrition with vitamin supplements of one kind or another, but good foods have so many more nutrients in complex combinations that they simply can’t be replaced by a couple of capsules.

Imagine you want to build a nice home. Would it make any sense to buy an excessive amount of the highest quality bricks available, but then only get half the required amount of mortar? And what if you get mortar that is very poor quality on top of that? That house isn’t going to be strong, and it certainly won’t last.

Better than taking a pill is eating some good foods that will help improve your hair growth. What foods are good for hair growth? Any Google search will turn up tons and tons of good ideas: Fruits and vegetables (dark greens, avocados, tomatoes, berries of all kinds, etc.). Nuts, seeds and legumes (walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, peas, lentils, sunflower seeds, etc.). I know that proteins and fats from meat and dairy products can also contribute to hair growth, but I am a vegetarian so my knowledge is lacking in that area, and I’ve met enough beardos to know that very few of them need to worry about increasing their meat intake.

Kale after the rain. Photo by Joe Farrell

Kale after the rain. Photo by Joe Farrell

It was pretty easy for me to up my intake of nuts, seeds and legumes, as they are things that I really like in general. Peanuts are reportedly very high in biotin, and many nuts are high in healthy fats and proteins that will contribute to hair growth. For me, it worked very well to simply keep a lot of that kind of thing around. When I’m hankering for a snack, I can grab a handful of almonds, and do my body and beard a favor. The only things I feel it is important to watch out for when increasing nuts and seeds in your diet are salt and sugar. Many nuts have tons of salt on them, so if I eat a lot, it is best to go light salt or no salt, or I can easily way overdo it on my sodium intake. Some roasted nuts have sugars added to them. Again, not too much of a problem normally, but if I’m eating more nuts, I try to stay away from too many of those.

Oddly enough, even being a vegetarian, the really good-for-me things I struggle to eat enough of are mostly fruits and vegetables. I have a few techniques for increasing my fruit and veggie intake that I’d like to share that may help people in the same boat as me:

1. Find a green vegetable that you really like, and eat a lot of it: Most people have at least one veggie that they enjoy eating. It’s okay if you don’t start out with a whole lot of variety. Just like anything, it can take a while to develop a “taste” for something. Do you like broccoli with cheese? Eat a lot of it, and then maybe try a different preparation for broccoli and start exploring from there.

2. Keep already prepared veggies and fruits on hand for snacking: It’s a lot easier for me to get fruits and veggies in my diet when the barriers to entry are reduced. So, if I’ve already got cut up pineapple or carrots in the refrigerator, and all I have to do is open a container and start eating, I am much more likely to do so!

3. Hide veggies in other foods you like: Add spinach to your sub. Add as many veggies as you can to your pizza. Blend some kale into your smoothie. Put real carrots into your carrot cake. Have a baked sweet potato and cover it in so many toppings you can barely taste it. If veggies are not super appealing to you, eating them in other things (even if they are barely noticeable) can still give you a great nutritional boost. Certainly better than nothing!

4. Grow your own: Have you ever had a tomato (also high in biotin) that you grew yourself? In my experience, nothing will make you appreciate a food more than taking the time to tend to it in your own garden (or container). It takes months to get tomatoes from seed to table, and that investment makes the final product extra valuable to me, so I’m much less likely to pass it up. It just tastes better too!

Tomato photo by Joe Farrell

The first tomato of 2015! Photo by Joe Farrell.

My final recommendation regarding nutrition for your beard is to stay hydrated! The battle against dry beard hairs starts within, so drink a lot of water.

How does this beard nutrition advice translate to life in general? All of these foods that are good for your beard are also good for your general health! So, if you are eating well to grow a great beard, you are bound to see some improvements in other areas of life. Healthier hair, nails, skin, circulation, joints, eyes and digestive system, just to name a few. In short, eat well to live well!

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Joe Farrell is a proud member of Steel City Beard and Mustache Club, and currently serves as their Philanthropy Chair. As co-founder of Evolve Coaching, Joe works with individuals seeking to improve in the areas of social skills, employment and academic success. Joe has been practicing the care and feeding of facial hair for as long as anyone can remember. Does he have a chin? The world may never know.

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Click here to view all of the entries in the Combing Out the Tangles series.

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Category: Beard Care, Combing out the tangles, Featured, Health, Joseph Farrell

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