I chose not to try cold cap therapy (CCT) for several reasons. Every woman must make these decisions on her own! So, what does it mean to skip cold caps and wait to see how your hair reacts to chemo? I wanted to find out the best ways for you to keep your hair as healthy and strong for as long as possible — so I went to an expert.
Dr. Chasse Bailey-Dorton is co-medical director for Survivorship & Integrative Oncology at Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte (N.C.) and shared some easy diet tips that can at least give you a running start on keeping your hair strong and healthy. The toxins in chemo are hard to overcome — after all, they’re intended to knock out the cancerous cells — but focusing on diet may help you fight back.
“Whole foods rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and biotin may help promote a healthy scalp and hair,” Dr. Bailey-Dorton shared. “Add these foods to your grocery cart – think of them as ingredients in a healthy hair recipe!”
- Dark leafy greens. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce the oily substance sebum, a natural conditioner for your hair.
- Salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids, of which wild-caught salmon is an excellent source, are important to a healthy scalp. Salmon (choose wild Alaskan salmon) is also a good source of protein. If you don’t like the taste of fish, try a high-quality fish oil supplement.
- Beans and legumes. They are also a source of protein, which helps promote hair growth, as well as iron, biotin and zinc. (Biotin deficiencies can occasionally result in brittle hair.) Avoid high-dose biotin supplements.
- Nuts. Specific varieties of nuts contain vitamins and minerals that can help promote the health of your scalp. Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium. Walnuts provide the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid, which may help condition your hair, as well as zinc, which can minimize hair shedding. Cashews, almonds and pecans are other hair-healthy choices. Aim for raw varieties as often as you can, or lightly toast on your own if an added crunch is needed.
- Eggs. A good source of protein as well as biotin, helping prevent dry, weak and brittle hair. Choose organic, omega-3 fortified eggs from cage-free hens.