Many associate low-fat, low-carb, vegan, keto, or low-calorie with an image of health, but any one of these diets can dangerously lack nutrient-dense foods, the right amounts of macro and micro nutrients, and/or an adequate caloric intake, all of which can impact your hair!!!
So what defines a poor vs. healthy diet, and how do these diets affect your hair??
Effects of a poor diet can manifest as inflammation or to poor quality hair and skin. When your scalp and skin become dry or irritated from lack of nourishment or exposure to toxins from processed foods, sugars, and other toxins, just as skin may flare, the scalp may itch and flake, they hair may weaken and break, and hair loss may be lurking.
Effects on Hair
If the scalp lacks proper circulation of proper nutrients to the scalp to feed hair follicles, dryness, irritation, and dandruff can occur. Scratching and dryness at the root can cause breakage and eventual hair loss as well as a slower growth cycle.
Proteins work to strengthen the body and hair. Lacking biotin and proteins will leave hair brittle and weak and prone to breakage which may be causing hair loss.
Stress Shed/ Telogen Effluvium:
Malnutrition as well as sudden weight loss may be recognized by the body as physical trauma and a stressful event that can shock the hair cycle pushing more hair into the shedding phase. Likewise, an insufficient intake of protein in your diet may stress the body to ration protein shutting down protein supply for hair growth 2-3 months after a time of inadequate protein intake.
Eat and Grow Hair
For healthy hair and nails, focus on adequately consuming or supplementing vitamins such as vitamin B, vitamin D, and biotin along with minerals of zinc and iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Biotin is important for metabolizing amino acids, protein, fats, and carbs into usable energy sources for the hair and scalp.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein necessary for hair structure and to help stimulate and produce hair follicles. Proteins help strengthen and protect the hair from breakage.
Fatty acids are necessary to hydrate and nourish the scalp.
In addition to biotin, other B vitamins are crucial to metabolize amino acids. B1, B2, B6 and B12 all play a role in preventing dandruff and hair loss. B5 helps regulate hormone balance and nourish follicle cells to give hair flexibility, strength, and shine and to prevent greying.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps metabolize iron and supports collagen synthesis as well as regeneration of Vitamin E to protect against oxidative stress.
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant protecting the hair against free radicals.
Minerals like zinc, selenium and copper help with hair thickness to further ensure that existing hair stays healthy.
Protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for growing and maintaining strong healthy hair. Lean red meat is rich in protein, iron, and zinc which help follicles to grow. Eggs are a suggested source of healthy fats and B vitamins, also essential for hair growth and hydration. Be sure to also include powerful foods like avocados, kale, acai, cacao, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, and tahini!
The right balance of vitamins and minerals, protein and macronutrient intake, and overall calories can help increase blood flow and the supply of nutrients to the scalp. Stay consistent with a diet of whole foods to provide your body with a wide range of bioavailable vitamins and minerals, proteins, fats, and fuel. Seek advice from a physician or dietician to determine the cause of and best treatment for your hair loss. If you already maintain a well-balanced diet and still struggle with skin irritations or hair loss, consult with your dermatologist as many factors can contribute to hair and skin changes.