Every year thousands of us embark on a New Year's diet to lose those winter pounds. But what if you're doing more harm than good?
Did you know that following a ‘fad’ diet is the leading cause of hair loss?! While it’s good to maintain a healthy weight, a crash diet, or extreme dieting can deprive your body of much needed nutrition and vitamins and has been scientifically proven to cause hair loss.
In the fast moving world of our daily lifestyles it is hard to get the right balance of nutrients, plus the media pressure on all of us to stay thin and look a certain way often means we are all simply not eating enough to get the correct nutrients into our bodies, not eating the right kinds of foods, and often skip meals because we’re either too busy to stop and eat or because we believe skipping meals will help reduce our intake and thus result in weight loss.
WHY DIETING IS BAD FOR YOUR HAIR
Just to be clear when we refer to dieting here we are not referring to a healthy calorie controlled diet. What we are referring to is an extreme diet focused on reducing the amount of calories and fat you consume without taking into account the importance of your daily nutrient intake.
When your body is deprived of key nutrients your hair shafts become weakened which causes hair breakage and slows down the rate at which your hair can regrow. Additionally your natural hair growth cycle gets disrupted so that your hair follicles that were growing convert prematurely into your cycle shedding and resting stages, resulting in less overall growth and stunted growth.
WAYS YOU CAN EAT POSITIVE FOR YOUR HAIR
Wanting to lose excess weight and become healthier shouldn't come at the expense of your hair and there are ways you can successfully lose weight while maintaining healthy growing hair.
Here are Our Top Tips on how to diet safely:
Don't undertake a crash quick fix diet.
Ensure you eat the correct Foods and a nutrient rich diet (check out our chapter on nutrition for hair).
Any form of dieting will cause nutrient depletion so if you are on a diet you should take additional multivitamins to balance this. When taking multivitamins you should only ever take them as a compliment but not a replacement to a balanced diet.
Lose weight slowly and ideally no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week as your body stores toxins in your fat cells so when overweight people lose weight too quickly they often feel terrible due to all the new toxins released. These toxins can also result in further hair loss.
Don't skip meals.
Avoid a low fat diet. It is sugar that makes people fat so if you focus on a low fat diet you will not lose weight but you may cause damage to your hair and potentially your overall health.
To lose weight you need to eat at least 3 small protein meals per day.
If you are struggling to stop an extreme diet you may be suffering from an eating disorder. If this sounds like you then you should speak to a healthcare professional about help and advice.
Look at your stress levels. There have been many studies that have shown that levels of the cortisol go up when dieting. Stress can actually impact absorption of nutrients and increases your body's demand for more nutrient dense food.
If you're really struggling to lose weight despite a good diet and exercise it may be worth speaking to your doctor as they could be an underlying medical condition causing your weight problems.
OUR FOOD HEROES FOR HAIR GROWTH
There are multiple nutrients that encourage hair growth but in particular you want to look out for food that contains high levels of the following:
Biotin: a B vitamin which may help hair grow and strengthen
Vitamin D: it can help stimulate hair follicles that have become dormant
Vitamin E: its potent antioxidant activity helps to reduce oxidative stress in the scalp, which is known to be associated with alopecia
Iron: iron deficiency has been linked to hair loss
Vitamin C: it makes it easier for your body to absorb iron
Omega-3 fatty acids: their anti-inflammatory effects can counteract any inflammation that's causing hair shedding
It's all very well giving out a list of the key nutrients, but let's face it, not everyone knows what nutrients are in what foods. Below we've made a list of our top hair superfoods that you'll definitely want to include in your diet.....
Eggs - Egg yolks are full of nutrients that are beneficial for your hair and are a great source of protein.
Quinoa - Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and is rich in vitamins and minerals providing four times as much calcium as wheat! Additionally it has an abundance of Iron, B vitamins, and Vitamin E and it is also low in fat. It’s oil is mostly polyunsaturated providing essential fatty acids; it is also one of the highest vegetable protein sources supplying all the amino acids which are usually only found in red meat so a great choice for vegans / vegetarians.
Wheatgrass - Wheatgrass is great for detoxing and eliminating heavy metals from your body and can help build and maintain healthy hair follicle cells too!
Green Tea - Green Tea is high in antioxidants, enhances fat metabolism and helps control blood sugar; all of which are beneficial for weight loss. Green Tea does, however, contain caffeine so be mindful about how much you consume on a regular basis!
Broccoli - Broccoli is great at eliminating excess oestrogen and balancing out your oestrogen / progesterone levels.
Beetroot - Beetroot is a good non-animal source of iron but may not be beneficial for people who suffer from IBS as it can be reactionary.
Dark chocolate - Dark Chocolate is high in Magnesium and antioxidants and even promotes serotonin! It's great for resolving emotional stress, but it does contain caffeine so be mindful how much you eat on a regular basis!
Asparagus - Asparagus provides a great source of Folic Acid needed to maintain overall health as well as hair health.
So if you're thinking of embarking on a new diet or perhaps you've already started one, then be sure to diet safely and ensure you get the right concentration of nutrients to support your hair (and your health!)
The Ginger & Pearl Team x
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