Here are some hair tips you can adopt to ensure your locks look lovely.
- Regular exercise and healthy sleep habits will increase circulatory and overall health, promoting healthy hair.
- Reduce the frequency of washing and drying your hair. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Avoid using hot water and hair dryers or curling irons whenever possible.
- Avoid exposing hair to chlorinated pool water or any other chemical solutions (perms and dyes).
- Do not overbrush your hair. Limit grooming and always be gentle when brushing or combing hair. Keep braids and ponytails loose.
- Give yourself a weekly deep conditioning treatment and scalp massage to protect the hair shaft and stimulate new hair follicle growth.
- Wear a wide-brim hat when outdoors to protect your scalp and hair from the sun’s damaging rays.
- Don’t smoke. According to one report, smokers were four times more likely to have grey hair than non-smokers and were more prone to hair loss.
Even though hair is not a living tissue, it is important to supply nutrients to the hair follicles in the scalp. While there are no foods that directly stimulate increased hair growth, choose foods that supply the body with a rich supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and protein.
Drastic Diets Stunt Hair Growth
Severely reducing calorie intake (less than 1,200 calories per day) can trigger sudden hair loss (telogen effluvium). When the body is deprived of sufficient protein, through strict dieting and calorie restriction, it will shut down all production of hair in order to divert all of its energies toward conserving vital body organs. The body will save protein by shifting healthy hairs that are in a normal growth phase (anagen) into a sudden resting phase.
What to Eat and Not Eat for Healthy Hair
Foods to Include
- Ensure adequate protein intake as protein is necessary for hair growth. Choose lean sources of protein (fish, poultry, lean cuts of meat, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy). Meat, poultry, and fish also contain iron, which is required for proper hair growth.
- Fish and flaxseed contain essential fatty acids necessary for proper hair growth.
- Nuts and seeds; almonds contain magnesium, which is important for hair growth.
- The outer skin of plants such as potatoes, cucumbers, green and red peppers, and sprouts can strengthen hair because they are rich in the mineral silica.
- Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of essential nutrients and fibre.
- Caffeine and alcohol can deplete the body of nutrients and also raise adrenal levels, which can trigger hair loss.
- Foods high in sugar can raise cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and cause the body to produce more androgens, promoting hair loss.
- High intake of salt has been linked to hair loss. Foods high in salt include processed and snack foods, deli meats, and the salt shaker.
- Reduce or eliminate pro-inflammatory foods: saturated fat (fatty meats and dairy) and trans fats (processed foods and fried foods). Saturated fat reduces the amount of sex hor- mone-binding globulin (SHBG), a substance that normally binds to testosterone. With less SHBG, more testosterone can be converted into DHT, which promotes hair loss.
Foods to avoid:
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss is a concern that affects us all, although we hope it doesn’t. When we see more hairs than usual in the shower or the hairbrush, we suddenly wonder whether we might be losing our hair. It’s comforting to know that the human body sheds approximately 100 of its 100,000–150,000 strands of hair every day and new ones grow to take their place. As we age, this renewal process may slow where more hairs are lost than grown.
Real hair loss is most noticeable in men. What is commonly known as male- pattern baldness is an inherited condition called androgenetic alopecia and it may begin as early as age 20. Male hair loss is distinguished by a receding hairline or widow’s peak and thinning on the crown. The rate of hair loss may be slow, gradual, or fast. By age 50, about 50 percent of men will experience thinning and hair loss. For 40–50 per- cent of women, hair may begin to thin after age 50 (typically after menopause). This is called female-pattern baldness. Women tend to see their hair thin throughout the head, but most visibly on the crown. Significant hair loss for women before age 50 is rare and usually triggered by hormonal fluctuations, stress, or a secondary health concern.
Other kinds of hair loss include:
Alopecia areata: This form of hair loss is characterized by patchy baldness or bald spots. It affects both men and women equally, both adults and children, but it is rare, affecting less than 2 percent of the population. Hair loss due to alopecia areata is usually triggered by an immune system disorder. Once addressed, the hair usually grows back.
Anagen effluvium: This condition occurs when hair in the growth phase falls out prematurely. Prescription medications used for the treatment of cancer are the most common cause of this condition. Chemotherapy patients may lose up to 90 percent of their hair as a result of anagen effluvium.
Telogen effluvium: A natural part of the hair growth cycle includes a resting phase called telogen, which involves 10 percent of hair at any given time. Telogen effluvium occurs when up to 30 percent of hairs on the head are in the resting phase at any given time. This condition may be caused by physical or emotional stress, and hair growth will return to normal as stress is eased.
The health of your hair is a reflection of the overall state of your health, so it is im- portant to address hair loss from a multipronged approach that includes both the use of standard medical treatments to slow hair loss, and nutritional and lifestyle changes to address and improve health.