Diet is important to how well the body functions. It is not just about what food we eat, it is also about how much of which types of food. In order for the hair to follow its three phase pattern of growth, loss and being dormant, the hair follicles have to be supplied with proteins, vitamins and minerals.
For instance, vegetarians could find themselves losing hair because of their daily diet. Meat is an essential source of protein that the body needs in order to function well. The source of protein for vegetarians is from plants and these do not digest in the system as well as meat does. So for the body to receive a sufficient amount, more green veg has to be eaten to meet the demand. Brown rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize, kidney and black beans, green peas and chick peas are all a good proteins that will suit vegetarians as well as meat eaters.
If changing from a ‘normal’ diet to vegetarian there may be some imbalances in the body until it adjusts. Hair may start to thin but once the diet has been balanced with all the nutrients it requires, hair loss should stop.
Folic acid, vitamin B6 and minerals such as magnesium and zinc are some of the essential ‘ingredients’ the body needs to keep it fit and healthy. If the diet is lacking in such nutrients it can have an effect on hair growth. The hair follicles are very susceptible to changes whether external or internal. For the most part external changes cannot be controlled but what the body’s system receives can be. If hair loss is noticed and there is no apparent reason it is worth while seeking the advice of a dietician who will be able to do tests to see if there are any deficiencies.
Fresh salads, fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals and should be part of a balanced diet. Foods that make acid such as dairy products should be limited. They have their uses to keeping the body well balanced but as with most foods should be taken in moderation. All types of nuts are another good source to help with a healthy diet and are ideal eaten as snacks.
Faddy 'crash' diets
Crash diets can be detrimental to the condition of the hair and it can take a few months for this to be noticed. The hair follicles need to be healthy in order to produce new hair and if the body is struggling to due to lack of nutrients the hair will suffer more as it is not an essential organ to be fed. Fatty acids are another essential part of the diet and can be found in fish such as sardines and herrings.
Fast food and junk food
A lot of today’s diets are ‘fast foods’ which do not contain the healthy nutrients that are needed. Tiredness can also be attributed to poor eating, which in turn effects how well the body is coping. With the busy lifestyle many people follow today taking time to prepare healthy meals can be the last thing to do. It is easier to pick up a take-away or a frozen ready meal. Whilst many frozen meals state they are as good as fresh it is not always the case and this style of eating can effect hair growth as well as loss.
The importance of hydration
Water intake is an important part of daily nutrition. Keeping the body hydrated is essential as without the skin becomes dry and scaly as will the scalp. If the scalp is dry the hair follicles become damaged and eventually unable to hold hair roots. The body’s intake of water is as important as food, it can survive longer without food than it can without water. It is recommended to drink around 8 glasses of water a day.
When hair loss or thinning is discussed diet will always come into it even if there are hormonal or hereditary causes as it is the body’s fuel. Depending on circumstances what is eaten may need to be changed to compensate for what the body is going through at that time. Occasionally allergies can develop to certain foods and advice needs to be sought.
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