Hair loss normally surprises you. You may have been through a stressful time, been burning the candles at both ends or been through a significant traumatic event such as an injury, and after everything has settled, your hair starts falling out. That’s because hair loss happens about 2 – 3 months before you notice it, as dead hair likes to hang out in the hair follicle before it sheds.
But what if this happens to you? What can you do? And how effective is diet at helping with hair loss? This article will explain why nutrient deficiencies might be an underlying cause of hair loss and how a healthy, nutritious diet may help stimulate hair growth and prevent further hair loss.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss isn’t one condition. It is caused by many factors, including genetics, autoimmune disease such as alopecia areata and systemic lupus erythematosus, thyroid conditions, stress, hormone imbalance and emotional disorders, as well as many others. Understanding what type of hair loss you have is a great starting point to address the root cause of your hair loss. However, whatever type of hair loss you have, eating a diet that stimulates hair growth and supports the health of the hair follicle is vital for your hair to grow back.
In those with androgenic alopecia, a genetic condition known as female and male pattern hair loss, it is essential to catch hair loss early. This condition is caused by the androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a derivative of testosterone. By latching onto the hair follicle, DHT causes it to shrink to the point where it cannot grow hair. If you have a genetic susceptibility to this condition, then taking steps early to decrease the amount of DHT you produce may help to maintain the hair on your head.
Nutrition Hacks for Hair Loss
The health of the hair follicle is vital for healthy hair growth. The hair follicle is fed the nutrients it needs to build new and strong hair from a blood supply through tiny capillaries surrounding it. As such, the health of your blood vessels and the environment around the hair follicle must be in tip-top shape to grow and prolong hair growth.
In those with chronic inflammation, often the case in autoimmune disease, the blood vessels might be inflamed throughout the body, and as a result, the rich blood supply needed for hair growth might be impacted. That is why eating a diet rich in antioxidant-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, red and purple berries, extra virgin olive oil and green tea are excellent sources of antioxidants to improve the health of your blood vessels and hair follicles.
In addition, applying black seed oil topically to the areas where you are noticing hair loss or thinning may promote hair growth due to a compound in it called thymoquinone antioxidant and antihistamine properties. You can also consume one teaspoon of black seed oil daily.
Blood Circulation Aids
Blood circulation is the vital delivery service of those critical nutrients that your hair follicle thrives on to build and grow hair. This shipment ensures that hair stays in the growth phase of the hair growth cycle and stimulates new hair growth after the previous hair sheds.
Eating foods that contain nitrates such as beetroot, fennel, rocket and radish aid blood circulation, thereby boosting hair growth.
Horsetail is a herbal remedy that has been used since Greek and Roman times and is believed to have many beneficial effects, including hair growth due to the silica it contains and its impact on circulation. Horsetail is found in many hair growth supplements, and you can use it as a tincture.
Protein – The Building Block of Hair
Keratin found in hair is an essential insoluble protein made from 18 amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of every protein and structure in your body. The most abundant amino acid in hair is cysteine which gives hair its strength.
When people who go on crash diets that exclude protein or have abnormal eating habits may develop protein malnutrition, when this happens, the body will help save protein by shifting growing hairs into the resting phase where it falls out.
The essential amino acid lysine, which can not be made naturally in the body, helps make proteins. Studies (Rushton et al. 2002) have shown that lysine is located in the hair root and impacts the shape and volume of the hair. L-lysine also helps the body metabolise iron, and iron deficiency is also linked to hair loss.
Furthermore, one of the fundamental reasons for taking l-lysine is that it can stop the effects of DHT, and it is highly detrimental to hair growth, suggesting that l-lysine’s role in hair growth is multifactorial.
Nutrition is an essential factor in hair loss, but diet alone may not be enough to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss. Often in hair loss, stress, trauma and overexertion are at play, so addressing these in conjunction with a healthy diet will put you in the best position to restore the health of your hair follicle.
Bringing more awareness to how you are feeling will help heal any emotional wounds through talking, journaling and spending some time getting to know yourself.
Also, doing more of what you love in life will help you through more troubled times. So if you have been meaning to get back into a hobby that you loved as a child, do it now! You will feel so much happier for doing an activity that feels like you again, and this will support a healthy, happy hair growth environment, so you get all the benefits from the nutritious foods you eat.
If you would like to find out more about nutrition for hair growth, join my free masterclass Nutrition for Healthy Hair Growth on Wednesday 22 June at 7 pm BST. You can join here.
If you would like to hear about how I overcame alopecia and hair loss, you can read my story here.
And if you would like to find out more about my personalised 1-2-1 nutritional therapy service and how it might transform your health and hair growth, you can book a free consultation with me here.
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