Lifestyle and Hair Loss

Lifestyle plays an important role in why some people lose or shed their hair. In fact, two often overlooked factors that contribute to hair loss are stress and nutritional deficiencies caused by a poor diet. Sometimes stress and a poor diet are the sole causes of hair loss. While in other cases, stress and a neglected diet can exacerbate an already-existing case of androgenetic alopecia.



Hair loss that is caused by crash dieting, prolonged physical or emotional stress, post-pregnancy hormonal changes, or illness is generally referred to as Telogen effluvium (TE). TE affects women more often than men, as some of the causes (termination of pregnancy, child birth, and contraceptives) exclusively affect women.

The good news is that TE-related hair loss is reversible. Often the hair begins to grow back after the person improves their diet, or when the stress in their lives is alleviated. In general, the hair begins to recover and re-grow on its own within six months. Chronic TE – where hair loss persists over months or even years – may take longer to resolve. The initial hair re-growth may be finer and thinner, which is why improving diet and alleviating stress are so important: both will help the new hair to grow in stronger and healthier.

While a physician should be consulted to diagnose the exact cause of hair loss, here are some tips on how to help reverse the effects of TE and help re-grow healthier hair.

B Complex Vitamins

B complex vitamins help stimulate the body’s overall consumption of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12, Vitamin B5 (panetheotic acid), Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B3 (better known as niacin) have been known to contribute to hair loss by weakening hair follicles. Foods rich in B complex vitamins increase blood circulation, help to repair damaged cells, strengthen the hair follicles, and may very well help to re-grow stronger, thicker hair after loss due to TE. Brewer’s yeast, turkey, liver, avocados, green vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, and spinach), tuna, and brazil nuts are just some of the foods rich in B complex vitamins. An individual should consult with their physician about safe dosages of these and any other vitamins, as vitamins that encourage hair growth may actually cause hair loss, when taken in excessive amounts. For a list of vitamin B12-rich foods that can promote healthy hair and hair re-growth, check out TLC Network’s Ultimate Guide To B Vitamins.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Walking, running, swimming or any other cardiovascular exercise gets the blood pumping and releases endorphins in the brain. This creates a true feeling of well-being, and has been proven to relieve mild to moderate depression, reduce anxiety and alleviate stress. In fact, even the most moderate amount of cardiovascular exercise has been proven to have huge benefits for overall mental health. Exercising also increases blood flow and improves oxygenation (the entry of oxygen molecules into body tissue). This may encourage a faster regrowth of hair by sending blood and nutrients to starved, shrunken hair follicles. For a brief overview on how cardiovascular exercise can benefit those who are experiencing hair loss, check out eHow Style’s How Exercises Increases Hair Growth.



Iron Intake

Women are particularly vulnerable to iron deficiencies. Hormonal fluctuations, menstruation, stress and “crash” dieting are all culprits. When low on iron, the body may become anemic and react to the deficiency in a variety of ways, including causing significant hair shedding. A vitamin supplement with added iron will help, but adding iron-rich foods such as red meat, egg yolks, spinach and liver to a diet is the best way to ensure that a woman’s body is getting the iron it needs. For more information on how a lack of iron can contribute to hair loss, check out Iron Deficiency & Women’s Hair Loss. One should remember that the key is not to consume an excessive amount of iron, but to consume the amount of iron needed to maintain good health and healthy hair.

Hair Styles

Women who are experiencing TE would be wise to leave the hair loose as often as possible. Traction alopecia can develop when the hair is often pulled into tight braids, ponytails or cornrows. Even rolling curlers into the hair too tightly can stress the scalp and cause hair to fall out. For more information on traction alopecia, check out eHow Health’s very useful quick guide called Ponytails & Hair Loss.

Protein

Protein is needed for all of the body’s cells to grow. This is especially true of hair cells, as hair is actually made of a type of protein itself, keratin. Because of this, protein intake can have a great effect on hair growth. A lack of protein can affect the hair’s fullness, thickness and lustre, resulting in dry, brittle hair that breaks easily. The best way to ensure that an individual is getting enough protein for healthy hair and growth is to eat foods that are rich in protein and fatty acids. Salmon and tuna are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, so are believed to aid in hair growth, relieve dry scalp, and add shine and manageability to hair. Eggs and other dairy products contain protein as well as Vitamin A, which helps your body produce sebum, the oil that lubricates both skin and hair, keeping them healthy. The guide found on How Much Protein dot com is a great resource in determining which foods have a healthy ratio of protein and fat, essential for keeping one’s hair and body properly nourished.

Scalp Massage

In India, scalp massage has long been used to keep the scalp and hair healthy, relieve tension, and promote all-around good health. When stressed, blood flow and circulation to the hair follicles decreases. A slow, deep scalp massage can encourage blood flow and invigorate the hair follicle to produce new hair. Using the tips of the fingers, the masseuse works in small circles across the hairline and throughout the hair, giving the crown (back of the head) attention as well. The hair should be wet, or scalp massage oils can be applied before beginning.  A DIY Scalp Massage video from Veria Living shows you how an individual can give themselves a healthy, relaxing scalp massage.

Yoga

The calming, soothing effect of yoga has been proven to reduce stress and improve oxygenation. Many believe that there are yoga poses that not only increase blood flow to the scalp and follicles, but also cause measurable improvement in hair health. While the latter claim may be up for debate, there is no question that yoga calms and relaxes the body and encourages blood, oxygen and nutrients to flow more effectively. Watch eHowFitness’ videos on Ramdev Yoga Poses  and Bikram Yoga Poses , for more information on yoga-related hair growth options.