NORTHERN HAIR LOSS CLINIC REVEALS THAT WHAT YOU EAT AFFECTS YOUR HAIR
JESSICA PATRICK AND HAYLEY JENNINGS, CO-DIRECTORS, NORTHERN HAIR LOSS CLINIC, REVEAL WHY WHEN IT COMES TO HAIR HEALTH, YOU REALLY ARE WHAT YOU EAT
A Marker Of Health
Hair is an incredible marker of overall health and a healthy diet that contains the right mix of protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can really help to improve the health of both the scalp and hair, and the look, feel and growth of your clients’ locks.
When Deficiencies Show
Likewise, a deficiency in certain nutrients and an imbalanced diet can lead to bad scalp health, poor hair growth, thinning brittle and damaged locks, and even hair loss. The old adage you are what you eat is certainly true when it comes to encouraging healthy hair growth and discouraging hair loss. Of course, there are so many other factors that affect hair growth and can cause hair loss – from medical reasons to emotional factors – but it’s important to recognise the role that diet can play too, and it is one of the things that we frequently discuss with our clients suffering from a range of hair loss symptoms at the Northern Hair Loss Clinic.
Choosing Your Lifestyle
Certain diet and lifestyle factors have become more popular in recent years, and this may contribute to an increase in clients suffering from diet-related hair thinning and hair loss. A vegan lifestyle and plant-based diet, for example, has surged in popularity, with the number of vegans in the UK rising by approximately 360% over the past decade.
While there are many proven benefits to adopting a plant-based diet and removing certain animal-based products from a diet, cutting out major food groups can often have a negative impact on the hair’s overall health. For example, vegans sometimes fail to maintain a good balance of certain minerals, such as zinc. Zinc is hugely important for hair growth, and a lack of it could lead to hair loss. Vitamin B12 only occurs naturally in animal products, so supplementing a vegan diet with this vitamin is also essential.
Some people find that their protein intake drops when they switch to a plant-based diet, and a lack of protein in the diet has been shown to lead to hair loss: eating adequate protein is important for hair growth because hair follicles are made up mostly of protein. Anyone adopting a more plant-based lifestyle should be careful not to fall into the trap of increasing their intake of refined carbohydrates, which are high in sugar and low in fibre, as this can also lead to hair loss.
Fuller Hair Benefits
On the flip side, many people who turn vegan have reported that their hair has become fuller and thicker, and overall a lot healthier. However, if your clients are going to make a huge change to their diet, or cut out certain food groups, then it is really important they pay special attention to their diet and ensure they are getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need. If they don’t consume enough of the correct food groups then they will notice a negative effect in their hair.
The direct link between diet and hair loss can manifest itself in various ways. A diet that lacks an adequate amount of protein can lead to an iron deficiency and subsequent hair loss, for example. Although rare, some women find that a deficiency in zinc or iron can cause a generalised thinning of the hair across the whole scalp. In addition, malnutrition through extreme dieting can slowly lead to generalised hair loss. Telogen effluvium – a hair loss condition we treat at the Northern Hair Loss Clinic, whereby around 30% of the hairs stop growing and go into the resting phase before falling out – can be triggered by a number of different events, including an extreme change in diet and an iron deficiency.
What Not To Eat For Hair Growth
When it comes to diet impacting on hair growth there are certain foods that should be avoided if hair loss is a concern. The consumption of high fat, fried foods and hydrogenated oils should be avoided, for example. Studies have linked monounsaturated and saturated fat to increased testosterone levels which could potentially lead to elevated levels of DHT – a by-product that causes hair loss – while hydrogenated oils are thought to affect hair growth by suppressing essential fatty acids needed for healthy hair.
Sugar-free sweeteners should also be avoided: the artificial sweetener aspartame, for example, has been directly linked to hair loss and thinning hair. Studies have linked vitamin D3 deficiency to hair loss, while reduced levels of iron in the blood has also been linked to hair loss. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron from food, so this is another vital vitamin for promoting healthy hair growth at the follicular level. Furthermore, research has shown that vitamin A promotes the production of sebum, which helps to keep hair healthy, and vitamin A is also thought to speed up the rate of hair growth and encourage the growth of thicker hair, all while preventing other hair follicles from regressing.
How To Encourage Hair Growth
To encourage natural hair growth, a healthy functioning scalp and to discourage hair loss or thinning, a balanced diet full of nutritionally dense fresh produce should always be adopted. We always advise our clients suffering from hair loss, thinning hair or improper hair growth to seek the advice of our in-house trichologist to discuss the potential reasons for their issue, however if hair loss or thinning occurs suddenly, with no other obvious cause, then a poor diet or a drastic change in diet could be to blame. And while the cause of hair thinning or hair loss may not always be diet-related, the role that diet plays in hair and scalp health is undeniable and of huge importance.
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