TIRED OF THOSE LIFELESS HAIR?
Last week I was having a coffee table conversation with one of my female colleagues. We were generally discussing her health issues and I came to know about her hair fall trauma and how she had tried different remedies in an attempt to cure this but with all in vain. I felt this issue is not just one individual’s issue; rather our whole generation is troubled with it, mostly women though. Where are we going wrong in our day to day routine that is ruining the quality of our hair?
I explained to her that hair is majorly made up of protein and its growth or lack of it is influenced by various hormones. They are also affected by environmental factors like pollution, water and food toxicity, psychological and psychological factors and to some extent, genetics. But there is another major cause which outcasts all the factors, that is our diet and lifestyle. The hormone play in female is different than the males and these hormonal imbalances have a great impact on the structure and life cycle of the hair
CULPRITS BEHIND THE FALL
Diets which are being followed are quite low in macronutrients like protein and fat and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. These deficiencies tend to shorten the life cycle of hair and leads to the development of unhealthy scalp and skin. Keratin, along with another types of amino acids like cysteine, methionine, lysine, etc.are responsible for the shine, continuity, elasticity and the volume of the hair. Absence or less supply of amino acids or in other term proteins like methionine and l-lysine in diet leads to their deficiency and this will reflect in terms of poor quality of hair and hair fall.
WHERE TO MAKE THE RECTIFICATIONS
So, where to get these amino acids or proteins from? Well, don’t worry they are all right here. Good sources of these amino acids are cottage cheese, yogurt, fish, eggs, meat, poultry, legumes like soya, lentils, beans, peas, nuts like pistachio, peanuts, almonds, etc.
My female colleague informed me about her diet and confessed that she was consuming less fat. But hey, that’s a blunder ! Fat is the building block of steroid hormones in our body, female hormones are made from cholesterol- yes the over hyped cholesterol. These hormones have a major role in providing the hair density and proper hair cycles. An imbalance of these hormones or reduction in their production might lead to a condition of hair fall and baldness. Saturated fats are essential to maintaining the sebum secretion which provides the protective coat to hair and skin. Polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 and 6 are essential for maintaining healthy hair. But excess consumption of omega 6 which is quite rich in vegetable oils might lead to a state of inflammation and hamper the condition of hair. A good source for your fats should be fish, poultry, egg, coconut oil, ghee, butter, nuts, and seeds like flax seeds, etc.
Carbohydrates should majorly come from complex carbohydrates and fibrous foods, veggies, fruits which have low GL or glycemic load and insulin response. Processed carbs have shown some serious threat to the conditioning of hair. They tend to increase the sebum above normal and that becomes food for microorganism and which in turn releases fatty acids into the skin causing a state of inflammation and irritation, in long run, it will cause ‘Keratinisation disorder’. Good sources of carbohydrates in the diet should be full grain, rice, vegetables, and fruits which are of low GL.
Sometimes we tend to ignore these things and these in turn cause a lot of problems. When it comes to micronutrients and their importance, our diets are not rich enough to supply us these micronutrients like all necessary vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients like vitamin C, group B, vitamin A and vitamin D are quite essential for the hair.
- Deficiency in vitamin C will lead to blockage of the opening of hair.
- Vitamin A helps in making the hair stronger and moisturizes them, and its deficiency may cause the regeneration and production cycle to slow down.
- Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be the cause of early hair fall and baldness in the female age group 18 – 45 and it can be well understood by seeing our lifestyle and our exposure to UV rays from Sun.
- Vitamin group B has a lot of function in hair cycle, hydration, colouring of hair, protecting the hair and skin from toxic materials. Their deficiency can be observed by early greying of hair, hair fall, skin irritation, greasy scalp.
- Biotin, vitamin B5, Niacin, vitamin B12 is quite essential. Food items rich in vitamins should be a must have in everyone’s diet.
Veggies like broccoli, pepper, cauliflower, spinach, green parsley leaves and fruits like strawberries, kiwi, and citrus fruits are some of the good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, meat, poultry, mushrooms, egg and full-fat dairy. These items along with green leafy veggies are a good source of vitamin B and A.
Likewise, minerals play a vital role in our metabolism, hair and skin conditioning.
- Zinc has a major contribution in hair cycle and its deficiency can hinder the hair growth.
- Deficiency of Iron may cause alopecia (spot baldness) and restrict the hair proliferation (rapid growth). This can even be seen in women suffering from anaemia who have complaints about thin, brittle and frequent hair fall.
- Copper is a major contributor to hair strength, elasticity, and growth along with Iron. Its deficiency can be observed from the development of curly, grey and weak hair.
- The hair healthy diet should also contain other minerals like calcium, magnesium, and selenium.
Food sources like soya, white beans, nuts, dried apricot, dairy product, poultry, fish, egg, meat, green leafy veggies are some of the key contributors of these minerals.
Women who are nearing to their menopause should exclusively take care of their diet as this is a transition phase and a lot of hormonal imbalances are likely to happen. If your diet is lacking the key ingredients then you are under high risk of hair loss.
Apart from the diet, a healthy and an active lifestyle are much needed in order to improve the psychological and physiological health of a woman. This will not only improve the hormone profile of the body but will also provide a positive energy which in return will reflect on the growth and development of hair.