Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

Want more good hair days? Don’t we all. For many of us, those luxurious locks we so proudly wore with confidence and grace when we were younger have gotten thinner and duller with age. But if you’re like me, you aren’t giving in to aging easily. That means holding on to every strand of hair we have by applying daily lifestyle habits that will help us continue to be our radiant, shining selves. Now—let’s talk about the factors that cause thinning, dull hair, and strategies we can apply to reverse this curse: The Power of Protein Did you know that your hair is a whopping 98 percent protein? So, simply put, if you aren’t getting enough dietary protein, or aren’t able to properly assimilate the protein you eat, your hair isn’t going to be able to get the proper nourishment it needs to be healthy and lustrous. Protein is absolutely critical for strengthening and sustaining hair growth. Are you getting enough high-quality protein in your diet? Are you eating enough eggs, lean meat, fish, and poultry? And more importantly, are you adequately digesting it? If you are among the more than 90 percent of people who are slow digesters, you most likely are low in the critical stomach acid necessary to properly break down the protein you are eating. It’s common for undigested protein to pass through your body without being absorbed and utilized in the areas we need it most—including your hair. The Importance of Stomach Acid for Good Hair Hydrochloric acid, which is the acid in your stomach, is one of the strongest acids known to man. It activates pepsin, which is an important enzyme needed for protein digestion, and signals the production and release of pancreatic enzymes for further digestion and absorption. Stomach acid deficiency makes it impossible to adequately break down proteins into energy and their amino acids, which are important for DNA and healthy cell formation. This leads to the inability to form collagen, and ultimately, hair loss. And without adequate stomach acid, we can’t absorb minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, or B vitamins like thiamine, folate, and vitamin B12, which are all important nutrients we need for hair health. Fortunately, the stomach is very responsive to changes in its environment, so even small changes can have a long-lasting effect. Start by taking a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar every morning before breakfast. This wakes up your digestion and lowers the pH of the stomach. In addition, if you have noticed recent hair loss or other major changes in your hair, it could very possibly be due to high stress or trauma you experienced over the past several months from things like hormonal fluctuations, medications, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, illness, and other factors like the pandemic. This alone can explain thinning hair. Nutritional Treatments for Hair Loss While there are many products marketed to treat hair loss, you may want to consider tending to the nutritional factors involved. B Vitamins  Biotin (vitamin B7) promotes growth and helps rebuild damaged hair. Women are especially at risk for biotin deficiency during pregnancy and lactation and during menopause. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) stimulates hair growth by supporting your adrenal glands, thereby improving your body’s management of stress. Zinc Zinc deficiency is a common culprit for hair loss in both men and women. Zinc acts directly on hair follicles, and stress alone can triple zinc loss. Zinc helps metabolize testosterone, which in excess can cause hair loss. Make sure you are getting at least 15 mg of supplemental zinc daily. Essential Fatty Acids Oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil have long been known to benefit skin and hair. Omega-3s promote thicker hair and reduce inflammation, which increases hair loss. Several studies show that omega-3 fats plus omega-6 and antioxidants decrease hair loss and increase hair thickness and density. Hormones and Thyroid Any hormonal change can affect your hair, especially a sudden drop in hormone levels. This is why many women experience hair loss a few months after childbirth (postpartum alopecia), as well as during menopause. A cause of thinning hair in women of all ages is estrogen dominance, which means your estrogen to progesterone ratio is too high. Estrogen-like chemicals in the environment, stress, menstrual changes, and even insufficient dietary fiber (binds to excess estrogen) can cause hormone havoc. Your thyroid may be another factor in hair loss. Hair loss is one of the first symptoms of low thyroid function, and one-third of those with hypothyroidism experience hair loss. Tips for Restoring Your Luxurious Locks Beyond tending to the issues above, if you’re not the Rapunzel you’d like to be, there are other steps you can take to restore your luxurious locks. Horsetail Extract Horsetail extract is rich in minerals for hair. It contains ample amounts of the mineral silica, which strengthens hair strands. It’s also h

Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

Want more good hair days? Don’t we all.

For many of us, those luxurious locks we so proudly wore with confidence and grace when we were younger have gotten thinner and duller with age. But if you’re like me, you aren’t giving in to aging easily. That means holding on to every strand of hair we have by applying daily lifestyle habits that will help us continue to be our radiant, shining selves.

Now—let’s talk about the factors that cause thinning, dull hair, and strategies we can apply to reverse this curse:

The Power of Protein

Did you know that your hair is a whopping 98 percent protein? So, simply put, if you aren’t getting enough dietary protein, or aren’t able to properly assimilate the protein you eat, your hair isn’t going to be able to get the proper nourishment it needs to be healthy and lustrous. Protein is absolutely critical for strengthening and sustaining hair growth.

Are you getting enough high-quality protein in your diet? Are you eating enough eggs, lean meat, fish, and poultry? And more importantly, are you adequately digesting it? If you are among the more than 90 percent of people who are slow digesters, you most likely are low in the critical stomach acid necessary to properly break down the protein you are eating. It’s common for undigested protein to pass through your body without being absorbed and utilized in the areas we need it most—including your hair.

The Importance of Stomach Acid for Good Hair

Hydrochloric acid, which is the acid in your stomach, is one of the strongest acids known to man. It activates pepsin, which is an important enzyme needed for protein digestion, and signals the production and release of pancreatic enzymes for further digestion and absorption.

Stomach acid deficiency makes it impossible to adequately break down proteins into energy and their amino acids, which are important for DNA and healthy cell formation. This leads to the inability to form collagen, and ultimately, hair loss. And without adequate stomach acid, we can’t absorb minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, or B vitamins like thiamine, folate, and vitamin B12, which are all important nutrients we need for hair health.

Fortunately, the stomach is very responsive to changes in its environment, so even small changes can have a long-lasting effect. Start by taking a teaspoon of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar every morning before breakfast. This wakes up your digestion and lowers the pH of the stomach.

In addition, if you have noticed recent hair loss or other major changes in your hair, it could very possibly be due to high stress or trauma you experienced over the past several months from things like hormonal fluctuations, medications, toxins, nutritional deficiencies, illness, and other factors like the pandemic. This alone can explain thinning hair.

Nutritional Treatments for Hair Loss

While there are many products marketed to treat hair loss, you may want to consider tending to the nutritional factors involved.

B Vitamins 

Biotin (vitamin B7) promotes growth and helps rebuild damaged hair. Women are especially at risk for biotin deficiency during pregnancy and lactation and during menopause. Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) stimulates hair growth by supporting your adrenal glands, thereby improving your body’s management of stress.

Zinc

Zinc deficiency is a common culprit for hair loss in both men and women. Zinc acts directly on hair follicles, and stress alone can triple zinc loss. Zinc helps metabolize testosterone, which in excess can cause hair loss. Make sure you are getting at least 15 mg of supplemental zinc daily.

Essential Fatty Acids

Oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil have long been known to benefit skin and hair. Omega-3s promote thicker hair and reduce inflammation, which increases hair loss. Several studies show that omega-3 fats plus omega-6 and antioxidants decrease hair loss and increase hair thickness and density.

Hormones and Thyroid

Any hormonal change can affect your hair, especially a sudden drop in hormone levels. This is why many women experience hair loss a few months after childbirth (postpartum alopecia), as well as during menopause.

A cause of thinning hair in women of all ages is estrogen dominance, which means your estrogen to progesterone ratio is too high. Estrogen-like chemicals in the environment, stress, menstrual changes, and even insufficient dietary fiber (binds to excess estrogen) can cause hormone havoc.

Your thyroid may be another factor in hair loss. Hair loss is one of the first symptoms of low thyroid function, and one-third of those with hypothyroidism experience hair loss.

Tips for Restoring Your Luxurious Locks

Beyond tending to the issues above, if you’re not the Rapunzel you’d like to be, there are other steps you can take to restore your luxurious locks.

Horsetail Extract

Horsetail extract is rich in minerals for hair. It contains ample amounts of the mineral silica, which strengthens hair strands. It’s also highly regarded for healthy skin and bones. Horsetail tea is an easy and enjoyable way to get more silica in your daily diet. I am also a huge fan of FIJI Water, which contains an impressive amount of naturally occurring silica.

Sulfur

Sulfur can be abundantly found in beef, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, garlic and onions, fruits, and vegetables. It can also be taken as a supplement in a high-quality purified MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) product. I add 2 to 3 scoops of MSM powder to my morning smoothies to support keratin production, which is a structural constituent of hair and nails.

Rosemary Essential Oil

As you will find in my book “Radical Longevity,” I love rosemary essential oil for lustrous, thick hair. To stimulate hair follicles, apply a few drops of rosemary oil to a natural bristle brush, then brush your hair 100 strokes just before bed. This is also wonderfully relaxing to the muscles beneath the scalp. Alternately, massage your scalp with your fingertips moistened with a couple drops of essential oil in one tablespoon of jojoba.

Other oils that increase scalp circulation include lavender, cedarwood, sage, and peppermint. Little known spikenard oil (Himalayan plant, nardostachys jatamansi, related to Valerian) has also been shown effective.

By implementing these simple strategies, you can help reverse hair loss or damage and restore the health of your hair as you continue your graceful journey.

Ann Louise Gittleman

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Ann Louise Gittleman holds a master’s in nutrition education from Columbia University, and is certified as a nutrition specialist by the American College of Nutrition. She also has a doctorate in holistic nutrition and has served as the chief nutritionist of the Pediatric Clinic at Bellevue Hospital and is the former director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica, Calif. This article was originally published on AnnLouise.com