Many people worry a lot about their hair health. This is mostly because our hair is seen as a reflection of our identity. That means it’s both public and personal. When a woman has a bad hair day, that equates to an all-out lousy day. Her self-esteem is affected when she feels her hair is too dry, too delicate, too frizzy, falling out, or turning grey. So it’s vital to our mental health that people be aware of hair health.
Most of us believe that the way we wear and style our hair is a presentation of who we are – it’s undoubtedly one of the ways we present ourselves to others through a first impression. Obviously, we’re always aware of how our hair looks for social reasons, but are there other reasons we should be aware of our hair health?
Generally, healthy-looking hair is a sign of both general good health and good hair care. Most people consume sufficient nutrients through their diet, but of course there are others who don’t have access to (or choose not to consume) healthy foods, and still others who suffer from medical illnesses that cause nutritional deficiencies, which ultimately affects their scalp and body hair.
Good nutrition is vitally important to our mind, body, and hair. If you notice your hair appears thinner, looking weak, or lacking shine, it could well be due to your diet. However, correcting poor nutrition can have a slow and indirect effect on hair health, because hair is especially slow in responding to any stimulus. Trials have shown that many deficiencies relate to hair loss and that healthy hair growth can be attributed to good nutrition. Therefore, we know that nutrition is a vitally important aspect of any treatment.
When devising a nutritional program for hair care, a rigorous and systematic approach must be taken, simply because many factors can affect the treatment’s overall effectiveness.
Many general health issues are created by diets high in processed foods, and our hair is no different. The problem with highly processed foods is that they favor preservatives and chemicals but lack in natural ingredients. The result is that your hair can become thinner, weaker, and generally unhealthy. Besides, a lack of protein can have the same effect, especially when we know that our bodies rely on essential proteins to strengthen our hair, muscles, and fingernails.
Congenital heart disease, malnutrition, chronic illnesses, neuromuscular disease, alcoholism, malignancy, and advanced age can all cause hair to weaken, be lost, and change color.
Did you know that your hair is the fastest-growing natural tissue in your body? Depending on your ethnicity, your hair grows at a rate of 0.5 cm to 1.7 cm per month. Optimal hair growth typically occurs between 15 and 30, reducing from ages 40 to 50. Interestingly, men’s beard hair grows faster after the age of 50 years! It’s also interesting to note that hair products, including vitamin supplements, do not noticeably change this rate.
It’s not difficult to determine if your hair is healthy or not by taking a closer look into the anatomy of your hair. The living part of your hair lies under the skin of your scalp, with the hair root being housed within a follicle. Nutrients are derived from blood, which means that medical issues like trauma, stress, medical conditions, medications, smoking, heavy metals, and so on can all affect your hair’s health.
Each hair follicle’s cycle of growth consists of creation, followed by self-destruction. The hair follicle is partially recreated during each new cycle. The rate of hair growth is determined by gender, genetics, hormones, and age; however, it can be reduced by hormonal fluctuations (like thyroid disease, polycystic ovaries, menopause) and nutrient deficiencies (caused by anaemia, anorexia, and zinc deficiencies).
According to nutritionists, people with specific nutritional deficiencies sometimes experience hair loss and tend to have dull, dry and stringy hair. Hair loss, fortunately, can be restored provided the deficiency is addressed. It should be noted that, for optimal hair growth, many of the metabolic requirements of follicle cells – meaning vitamins and minerals – must be satisfied.
Any good diet will contain fruits and vegetables, protein, grains, and a certain amount of fat, and any deficiency will typically show up in your hair. Crash diets are notorious for causing temporary hair loss. The B group of vitamins, especially biotin, are essential for healthy hair. Even a mild case of anaemia can cause hair loss.
Always ensure that when using hair coloring, go for an ammonia-free hair coloring dye like Manic Panic as continued application of ammonia products can cause major issues with your hair.
When the body perceives it’s under threat, its processes are re-prioritized to ensure that vital organs are attended to first. It’s doubtful that hair follicles would be considered a priority. Of course, not all hair growth issues derive from malnutrition, but it is a useful symptom when diagnosing hair health.