Diet & Food for Hair Loss
WHAT IS DIET-RELATED HAIR LOSS?
What we eat largely influences our quality of life. From our energy levels to our self-esteem and confidence: food matters. In many ways, the importance of a healthy diet is obvious: We want to live long, abundant lives, and the vessel that carries us on that journey depends on what we feed it.
What about the other, less obvious ways diet influences our lives? For example, loading up on omega fatty acids, healthy fats, and protein produces shiny, bouncy, and healthy locks. What happens when we crash diet, skimp on vital minerals, or eat too many empty carbohydrates?
Not only do we feel sluggish, but a poor diet may be the source of your sudden hair loss. Conversely, you may be eating better than ever and, as a result, losing weight rapidly. Instead of being rewarded for your accomplishment, you are shedding hair along with pounds. While this can come as an understandable disappointment, it’s one of the most straightforward causes of women’s hair loss to treat.
If you’re experiencing excessive shedding or hair loss on your weight loss journey, here’s what you need to know about diet and hair health.
DOES YOUR DIET AFFECT YOUR HAIR?
The answer to that question prompts a brief investigation into our biochemistry and anatomy. Hair strands are indeed lifeless. Yet the cells living within hair follicles are some of the fastest-growing cells in the human body, second to intestinal cells. And what do these hair cells depend on for optimal growth? If you guessed nourishment, you are right. Yet any old form of nourishment won’t do. See, hair isn’t a living organism, which means it won’t demand nourishment the way that vital organs and tissues do. When there’s a nutritional deficit or poor diet, the body’s cellular response is to go into self-preservation mode. Instead of seeking out nutrients, it cuts off energy to specific functions to preserve energy for more essential functions like digestion and circulation. And what’s one of the first functions on the chopping block? Hair growth.
Simply put: a restricted diet thrusts your body into preservation mode to protect vital life functions and as a result, prohibits cells within the hair follicles from growing.
CAUSES OF DIET-RELATED HAIR LOSS
The most straightforward cause of hair loss related to diet is poor nutrition. Yet it’s not a simple matter of “eating an apple a day...” Longstanding malnutrition, calorie restriction, eating disorders, and nutritional deficiencies cause excessive hair shedding, hair thinning, and extreme hair loss. The result?
Chronic Telogen Effuvium
A hair loss condition lasting longer than six months that is caused by prolonged poor nutrition. Thinning occurs across the entire scalp, and it may take longer for hair to regrow due to prolonged damage.
Some diets are safe and effective for sustainable weight loss. Yet many variables shape and impact your body during the dieting process. Your starting weight, genetics, and medical history all play a role in weight loss. As it turns out, they also impact your hair health. Meaning your approach to a well-balanced diet will determine whether or not you also shed hair. If you can maintain a healthy diet that still incorporates vital nutrients, you shouldn’t experience excessive shedding. However, crash diets, extreme weight loss, or nutrition deficit can cause:
A diet-related hair loss condition resulting from crash dieting and stress on the body. Hair’s will rapidly transfer out of the growing phase and into the shedding phase. Once you address and alter the dietary issue, your hair will regrow within 3-6 months.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF DIET-related hair loss
The most evident signs of hair loss from deficiency occur as hair dryness, brittleness, breakage, lack of shine, dry scalp, and overall lackluster hair. When there’s a nutritional deficiency, hair cells are unable to produce new healthy strands. Worse—existing strands that may have been healthy before will start to break, split and ultimately, fall out.
DIET-RELATED HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS
To avoid a deficiency, it’s essential to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods. At every meal, try to fill up half of your plate with a rainbow of vegetables. Also, try to avoid trans-fat, empty carbs, or singular diets that only emphasize eating a couple of food groups. Focus on eating a healthy balance of lean protein, complex carbs, and adequate levels of vitamins and minerals.
As always, we recommended consulting with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
• Have you started a new diet?
• Have you lost or gained weight?
• Have you cut out, or implemented any major food groups?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above and are experiencing noticeable excessive hair shedding, thinning, or loss, diet may be the primary source. If you are unsure if nutrition is affecting your hair health, you should seek guidance from a medical doctor or licensed nutritionist. Mineral analysis can determine whether or not there is a nutritional or dietary deficiency.
DIET TO PREVENT HAIR LOSS
To avoid a deficiency, it’s essential to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods. At every meal, try to fill up half of your plate with a rainbow of vegetables. Also, try to avoid trans-fat, empty carbs, or singular diets that only emphasize eating a couple of food groups. Focus on eating a healthy balance of lean protein, complex carbs, and adequate levels of vitamins and minerals. As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
DIET-RELATED HAIR LOSS TREATMENT
The quickest and most effective way to treat nutritional-related hair loss is to take a candid survey of your diet. Are you getting enough protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients? It might seem difficult to part with a specific diet, especially if you are generating positive results on your weight-loss journey. Sustainable, long-term health hinges on healthy and abundant nutrition.
Remember that some hair loss from dieting is healthy. If you’ve lost more than 20 pounds, you may experience sudden shedding. Typically, once your body adjusts, hair will return to its normal growth cycle.
Your body is incredibly resilient. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to stay on track on your dietary journey without compromising hair health:
• Consult with your doctor and test mineral and nutrient levels.
• Take care not to skip meals.
• Eat a hearty, healthy, and balanced breakfast every day.
• Eat a palm-sized portion of protein at every meal (lean meats, fish, nuts, legumes, eggs, tofu, seitan, quinoa.
• Stay hydrated with 64oz. of water each day, no excuse. Dehydrated hair follicles result in breakage, shedding, and hair loss.
• Minitor your intake of iron and essential nutrients.
Essential Nutrients For Healthy Hair Growth
When we talk about essential nutrients, we’re not merely emphasizing certain ingredients because they are healthy. Instead, “essential” means that biologically, your body depends on these nutrients to enact its normal functions. Essential nutrients must be eaten or incorporated with an oral or sublingual supplement.
If we look at hair anatomy, we learn that hair is made of a protein called Keratin. As such, restriction of protein results in weak, brittle, and thin hair that sheds. The good news is that there are excellent sources of protein for every diet, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, legumes, beans, quinoa, and soy.
Hair follicles live under the scalp and feed on your blood supply. As such, they crave blood rich in iron. One of the leading causes of excessive shedding is an iron deficiency. If you’re iron deficient, increase your intake of dark leafy greens, red meat, chicken, fish, tofu, broccoli, egg, mussels, oysters, veal, or iron-fortified or enriched foods like cereal or brown rice.
Healthy Fats - Omega Fatty Acid
We know that circulation is vital to cardiovascular health, but where else in the body is regulated blood flow necessary? Microcirculation is the circulation of blood through the tiniest vessels in the body. And where’s one place small blood vessels live? In our hair follicles. Healthy fats promote microcirculation, minimize inflammation of the blood vessels, and stimulate healthy hair growth. Get healthy fats from salmon, avocado, and coconut oil.
Biotin is also crucial for producing Keratin, the protein building block of hair strands. Get biotin from eggs, almonds, mushrooms, cauliflower, and cheese, or take a supplement.
Vitamin B12, C, E & D
These are all essential nutrients that support a myriad of functions in the body, including healthy hair. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and nuts will provide abundant nutrients. If you aren’t privy to greens at every meal, you can also take daily supplements.
Calcium supports strong, healthy bones and teeth. It also promotes the secretion of androgens, the hormone responsible for stimulating hair growth. Considering this fact, calcium deficiency can lead to hair breakage and excessive shedding. Milk, yogurt, almond milk, broccoli, sesame seeds, salmon, sardines, oranges, and apricots are all excellent sources of natural calcium.
While your hair recovers from dietary deficiency, you may also want cosmetic or alternative support to enhance hair health and improve confidence.