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Yo-Yo Dieting and Hair Loss

When signing up to the latest fad diet, most people would expect just to lose weight, right? Well, according to new research, these fad diets could be responsible for hair loss too!

New findings have recently emerged highlighting the role of metabolism in hair growth, and more specifically, the effect of a compromised metabolic rate on hair loss. This research has come to light from looking into the causes of chronogenetic alopecia, or age-related hair loss. Chronogenetic alopecia is a condition that mainly affects women who often experience significant hair-thinning as they age. Interestingly, this happens alongside another biological change that occurs with aging; a reduction in metabolism.

Research conducted by Lemasters et. al (2017) outlines how an individual’s metabolism controls the rate of growth as well as structure and strength of human hair by stimulating a number of processes such as the formation of new hair follicles, cell proliferation and keratin production (to name a few). By contrast, a reduced metabolic function shortens the duration of a hair’s development and accelerates it to ‘shedding phase’ – resulting in a state of hair loss whereby hairs become shorter, thinner and weaker and fall out faster than new ones can form.

While a reduction in metabolic rate is an inevitable process for the aging population, this research has put the spotlight on other causes for a reduced metabolism which can happen at any stage of life, including yo-yo dieting. An individual’s metabolism is controlled by their muscle mass; the more muscle one has, the higher their metabolic rate. There are a number of factors that contribute towards one’s metabolic efficiency, and metabolic rate varies greatly person to person. However, we do know that caloric restriction and weight fluctuations can affect one’s metabolic function. This process occurs in a number of ways. Not only can caloric restriction place the body in ‘starvation mode’, where it will lower its metabolic rate in order to preserve energy, weight loss is also associated with a reduced muscle mass. These statements are particularly significant when it comes to dramatic weight loss within a short amount of time – generally as a result of yo-yo or fad dieting.

So, how can you maintain metabolic function and therefore ensure a full head of hair for as long as possible? Try these three simple diet and lifestyle tips!

Resistance Training

The most effective way of building muscles is by using them! Incorporating the use of weights into one’s exercise regime increases their muscle mass and thus improves metabolic function. This is particularly important for the aging population because from the age of 30, muscle mass naturally decreases by around 5% each decade

Consistent Eating, Adequate Protein

Maintaining a consistently healthy diet is paramount in maintaining muscle mass. As stated above, restrictive diets and sudden weight loss can cause the body to enter ‘starvation mode’ and reduce muscle mass. It’s also vital to include adequate protein as the amino acids found in protein are essential for the growth and maintenance of all cells within the body

Sleep

At the risk of stating the obvious, our bodies go through the all-important ‘rest and repair’ during sleep. This allows the body to heal and new cells to form in order for it to complete all of its natural functions. If not enough sleep occurs, or sleep quality is poor, the hormones required for this process will not be produced in sufficient amounts and ‘rest and repair’ will not be carried out adequately. This can not only result in reduced muscle mass and decreased metabolic function but it can also hinder hair growth

So before engaging in yet another yo-yo diet, consider what you really have to lose. Ensuring you maintain a healthy, balanced diet, keep up with regular exercise and get adequate sleep every night is not only essential for optimal health but it’s also important for sustaining healthy metabolic function and of course, a full head of hair!

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