Optimising Hair Growth Through Holistic Hair Nutrition

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The Holistic Approach to Hair Nutrition

Hair Nutrition for reversing hair loss and promoting growth is best achieved with a three-step approach: 1. Eliminate any factors causing hair loss or obstructing hair growth 2. Ensure a healthy environment for hair to grow in 3. Promote hair growth by consuming the right nutrients in sufficient amounts

1. Eliminate Any Factors Causing Hair Loss Or Obstructing Hair Growth

There are a number of factors that are known to cause hair loss and/or inhibit hair growth, all of which contribute to a suboptimal environment for hair to grow in. These factors should be eliminated from the daily diet in order to maximise hair growth potential. They can be categorised into 3 groups: • Dietary Factors • Lifestyle Factors • Drugs / Medication The Dietary Factors of Hair Nutrition Just as diets provide an array of beneficial nutrients, the all-too-common modern diet is often delivered with a big dose of ‘anti-nutrients’ on the side. These ‘anti-nutrients’ include ingredients such as refined sugars, salt and trans-fats as well as an array of preservatives, additives and artificial chemicals that come with almost every form of packaged and processed food. All of these nutritional deficiencies are implicated in hair loss as well as inhibited hair growth due to the negatives effects they have on the body. Some of the highest sugar-containing foods on the market include cereals, snack bars, flavoured yoghurts, ice cream, cakes, confectionery, carbonated soft drinks and processed fruit juices. Excessive sugar intake is known to cause hair loss through its links to diabetes and insulin resistance. Sugar is also one of the main driving forces behind inflammation within the body – a condition that burdens every aspect of health! The main culprits bringing trans fats into the diet are, again, processed foods such as crisps, crackers, ready-made meals, packet-mix cakes, cookies, hydrogenated cooking oils and more. Apart from the general ill-health caused by trans fats, they are also believed to increase levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in both men and women – a hormone that plays a major role in hair loss [1]. Lifestyle Factors: There’s a number of lifestyle factors that can be linked to hair loss, the most common one being stress. When the body goes through substantial emotional or physical stress, it has to work extra hard in order to overcome it. This can often compromise other important bodily functions as a result. In the short term, this will often fix itself, but in the case of unresolved or chronic stress, long-term symptoms such as hair loss can arise. It’s vital to recognise whether any major stressors (both physical and emotional) could be the root cause of hair loss, in order to maximise the effect of any hair regrowth treatments. Other lifestyle factors such as recreational drug use and excessive alcohol consumption can severely compromise nutrient absorption, resulting in various nutritional deficiencies and a limited hair growth potential. Drugs / Medication: Before looking to increase hair growth through medication, it’s important to make sure that the current hair loss isn’t medication-induced in the first place. There are a number of commonly prescribed drugs and medications that can cause hair loss as a side effect, including certain acne medication, oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, blood-thinners and more [2]. The easiest way to understand whether or not this is the case is to think back to the time when hair loss began – does this period coincide with a time when a new course of medication was started? Always consult a GP for a full list of side effects for any medication being taken daily and whether they could be contributing toward hair loss.

2. Ensure A Healthy Environment For Hair To Grow In

In order to promote hair growth, it’s important to not only support maximum health within the body, but to also ensure the scalp is in optimum condition for new growth to take place. Hair growth can be inhibited by a number of underlying health conditions such as thyroid dysfunction, various autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalance and a general lack of nutrients – from a poor diet or low nutrient absorption rate due to compromised gut function. While professional intervention is essential to treat any existing underlying causes, they can be best prevented through a healthy, balanced and nutrient-rich diet that incorporates a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat, wholegrains and legumes. It is also important to be well hydrated, with 1.5L-2L of water per day.

More specifically, nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids and Zinc will maintain the scalp’s ability to grow hair sufficiently and prevent hair loss by ensuring adequate blood flow, healthy skin cell turnover, optimal sebum production and general delivery of important nutrients [3].

Sources of Vitamin C include:

– Fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly: berries, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, apples, oranges, capsicum, cabbage, freshly squeezed lemon juice

– NB: Consuming iron-containing foods with a source of vitamin C can enhance iron absorption by up to 5 times – this is particularly important for those following a vegetarian diet

Sources of Vitamin D include:

– Mushrooms, egg yolk, salmon, organ meats and of course a short 20 minutes of sun exposure daily

Sources of Vitamin E include:

– Fish, sweet potato, spinach, almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds

Sources of Essential Fatty Acids include:

– Salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, wholegrains, eggs, walnuts, dark leafy greens (spinach, broccoli), almonds, olive oil

Sources of Zinc include:

– Oysters, beef, pork, chicken, wholegrains, beans, nuts, dairy products

3. Promote Hair Growth By Consuming The Right Nutrients In Sufficient Amounts
While it is vital to ensure the body is functioning to its best capacity through a nutrient-rich diet, there are some specific nutrients that support hair growth more than others. A lack of protein and Iron are the most common nutrient-related causes for hair loss as they provide the essential building blocks for all cells within the body as well as the necessary oxygen for those cells to function, respectively. Low levels of other nutrients such as Biotin, Niacin, and the Essential Fatty Acids Linoleic Acid and Alpha-Linoleic Acid have also been directly linked to the loss of hair [3], [4].

Sources of protein include:
– Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, wholegrains, nuts, legumes, dairy products

Sources of Iron include:
– Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, bok choy, chard), wholegrains, nuts, legumes
NB: Consuming iron-containing foods with a source of vitamin C can enhance iron absorption by up to 5 times – this is particularly important for those following a vegetarian diet

Sources of Biotin include:
– Egg yolk, almonds, legumes, wholegrains, organ meats, seafood, dairy products

Sources of Niacin include:
– Turkey, chicken, mushrooms, beef, organ meats, tuna, green peas

Sources of Essential Fatty Acids (specifically Linoleic Acid and Alpha-Linoleic Acid) include:
– Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, tofu

Below is an easy-to-follow 5-day diet containing all of the nutrients required for optimal hair growth:

  • (2010). Causes of Hair Loss in Women. WebMD Medical Reference from the American Hair Loss Association. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/hair-loss-causes-women
  • Hicks, R. (Dr. . (2016). Hair loss centre. WebMD Medical Reference. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from https://www.webmd.boots.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/medication-induced-hair-loss
  • Finner, A. M. (2013). Nutrition and hair: deficiencies and supplements. Dermatologic clinics, 31(1), 167–72. doi:10.1016/j.det.2012.08.015
  • Trüeb, R. M. (2016). Serum Biotin Levels in Women Complaining of Hair Loss. International Journal of Trichology, 8(2), 73–77. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.188040
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