Hair loss is a tricksy beast. One of those things where you don’t know what’s causing it, or what could be a possible cure. But you can prevent it from getting worse; starting with looking after yourself as much as possible.
By taking active steps to improve your physical and mental health, you might even notice that your hair grows back in no time. Imagine! These steps include getting a decent sleep, squeezing in some exercise, and watching what you eat. (Not literally. That’d be weird).
When it comes to the kind of diet that alopecians should follow, there are some dos and don’ts to bear in mind.
The world is kale-mad right now, and with good reason. It’s because dark leafy greens like it and spinach come with all kinds of immune-boosting functions.
Kale in particular is great if you have any digestive issues, thanks to its high-fibre content, and it actually has more iron per calorie than beef! Kale mightn’t be as widely regarded as say, turmeric, for its anti-inflammatory properties – but it should be. Because just one cup of the curly green stuff contains 10% of your RDA of Omega-3 fatty acids; the guys that are great for those with autoimmune disorders.
Dark leafies are rich in calcium too, which is brilliant news for your teeth, your nails and – you got it – your hair.
If you’ve got alopecia, chances are your scalp feels drier than an AA Christmas party. Flaky and parched, it ain’t the best environment for hair follicles to burst forth new fruit. (Or hair, for that matter.)
So give your scalp ‘n’ skin some oily goodness with some healthy fats. Eat plenty of Omega-soaked fish like mackerel and salmon or, if you can’t stand the stuff, take some fish oil supplements instead. (I’ve been taking these supplements for a long time now; if I go off them for even a week I notice how quickly my skin dries out!)
You should also cook with extra virgin olive oil or organic cold-pressed coconut oil whenever possible. Tasty, nutritious, and great for your hair.
While caffeine is actually a great hair growth stimulant when applied topically, it isn’t so good for those of us with hormone problems; specifically, those of us with low or heightened levels of cortisol.
Caffeine interferes with the body’s natural cortisol levels, meaning this ‘stress hormone’ can cause you to feel overly anxious, upset and stressed out. Even a single cup of coffee gives me a severe case of the jitters; I know it isn’t good for me or my hair so I stay away from its tempting aroma.
If you’ve got an autoimmune condition like alopecia, sugar is probably one of the worst things you could feed it. Why? Well, for one it can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which can lead to what’s known as a ‘leaky gut’.
When this takes place, your gut wall becomes more permeable, allowing harmful toxins to pass through. And because sugar prevents our white blood cells from destroying these toxins quickly, they’re allowed to linger until they trigger an autoimmune response. This isn’t the best news for your hair because the immune system will then target all ‘foreign invaders’ that it doesn’t recognise, even the healthy cells.
Sugar also brings a heap of problems to our thyroids, our cortisol levels and comes with plenty more issues. So take my advice: cut out what you can.
Great question. I’ll tell you – what’s more, I’ll even tell you why…
The above tips involve eating healthily, cutting out harmful foods and ingesting plenty of nurturing ones. But often, for those with autoimmune conditions, that won’t be enough. (Sorry.)
What you might need is a complete overhaul; something that Brenda Leigh Turner from Lean Reset describes as “healing and sealing your gut”. In this great post on overcoming alopecia areata, Brenda talks about how going on an AIP (Autoimmune Protocol, or Autoimmune Paleo) diet helped her grow her hair back in just a couple of months. And since gluten is seen as one of the main culprits in triggering the body’s inflammatory response – which leads to it attacking perfectly healthy hair follicles – the journey begins with going gluten-free.
Brenda’s post was like a revelation to me. Because even though I thought I knew about eating healthily, what foods contain what vitamins etc, I knew very little about the idea of a “leaky gut” or “intestinal permeability”. It’s fascinating stuff, and I won’t go into it all now because that’ll be a post of its own soon!
But basically, what I learned after a lot of research on the topic, is that we alopecians might suddenly have “trigger foods”, even when we’ve never seemingly had a problem with them before. They could be making our alopecia much worse and the condition could be reversed entirely if we just knew what foods to eliminate. And how do we do this?
Well, we start off by being pretty strict on ourselves; cutting out dairy, gluten, legumes and unsprouted grains for a couple of months and replacing them with fish, lots of fruit and veggies (but not “nightshades” like peppers and tomatoes), plus taking a good probiotic and gut-healing supplements. And that’s what I decided to do.
I’ll be honest. I tried this diet for about 6 weeks and I felt great afterwards. But because I wasn’t sure what exactly the problem was – gluten, dairy or neither – I fell off the wagon again!
I still don’t eat dairy but I’ve recently been to a functional medicine doctor and am awaiting test results. I’ll post about that soon! 🙂
In the meantime, load up on those greens, savour the sesame, cut out the caffeine and give sugar a sweet kiss goodbye. Not only will you feel better on the inside, you might just notice some sprouting on the outside, too. Bon appétit!
If you like this post, maybe you’ll like these ones, too:
1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
2. Meditation – Learn how it can help with hair loss and happiness!
3. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
4. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.