How does our lifestyle affect our hair?
We all have these magnificent fibres growing from our scalps and we expect them to do one simple thing: make us look amazing! So, we shampoo, we condition, we trim… But what about our life habits? Could those be impacting the overall condition of our hair as well? Today’s article will look at different lifestyle choices and how they can influence the quality of our strands.
This one should come as no surprise. We are what we eat! Food is our fuel. As much as food has become a social activity in this day and age, its role is to provide our body with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help us stay strong and healthy. Our body’s will always take care of our organs before providing fundamental elements to our hair, nails and skin. This is not a bad thing because staying alive should take president over our hair. All this means is that we need to make sure there are enough vitamins and minerals in what we eat so our bodies allocate some to our hair.
I wrote an article: 10 foods that help with hair growth that will help you make dietary choices that are beneficial for your hair. Meanwhile, don’t shy away from fruits, vegetables, fish and other lean proteins. 95% of our hair’s make up is protein so remember to eat protein at every meal. DO NOT crash diet! Crash dieting is one of the leading causes of hair loss in women. Depleting your body of energy stores for long periods of time is unhealthy and won’t give your body enough nutrition to nourish your hair. If your feel you might not be getting all you need from your food, invest in a good multivitamin for women.
What better way to follow nutrition than with its partner in crime: exercise. I will start by saying that nutrition is and will always be more important to your health than exercise. However, the benefits of exercising regularly include: longer life expectancy, lower levels of stress, weight management and stronger muscles and bones. Does it also benefit your hair? It sure does ladies! Exercise increases blood flow to your scalp which helps stimulate hair growth. Lowering stress levels also helps keep your hair looking its best. Constant high stress levels can force your hair follicles into the resting phase. What this means is those hair strand will stop growing and will suddenly fall out about a month later. This sudden hair loss usually causes a woman even more stress and therefore the cycle continues. Keep in mind physical activity does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial. A walk to the park, yoga or a short bike ride to the grocery store is enough to get your endorphins up, and your stress levels down!
Our hair tells a story. Hair loss can be associated with other health issues we are not aware of. Medication used to treat arthritis, high blood pressure, cancer and even depression can all cause hair loss. Some illnesses such as lupus, thyroid disease and alopecia areata will cause hair loss and scarring. Any major hormonal changes in our body can directly impact our hair. These include pregnancy, menopause and discontinuing the use of birth control. Iron and ferritin deficiencies can also cause hair loss. If you notice serious changes in your hair and you haven’t changed anything significant in your lifestyle in the past 3 months, it is recommended that you see your family doctor and a trichologist. A trichologist will analyze blood work specifically for hair concerns, and your doctor will look into your general health.
Hair loss can be hereditary. Hereditary hair loss, also called androgenic alopecia is most common in men but also occurs in women. There is no cure for androgenic alopecia but early treatment can considerably slow down hair loss and avoid irreversible effects. The typical pattern is thinning over the top of the head or crown while maintaining a frontal hairline. Female pattern baldness usually begins around the age of 30 and becomes more noticeable after menopause. By the age of 50 almost half of women will experience some degree of hair thinning. Do any of the women in your family suffer from androgenic alopecia? This is an important factor to keep in mind to address hair loss before it becomes uncontrollable.
I saved this one for last because this is the lifestyle factor that we have total control over at all times. Hairstyling, unlike the other circumstances previously mentioned, causes physical damage to your hair strands. A good place to start is to know your hair type and the particularities in entails. This article: What is your hair type, and does it really matter? covers that topic in depth. Heat appliances are to be used sparingly if at all. Proper hygiene and natural hair products are essential for a good hair regimen. Tight hairstyles will pull out your hair and damage your hair follicles. This damage can sometimes be permanent. Bleaches and other chemicals strip the outer layers of your hair off, leaving your hair strands vulnerable and damaged.
Our hair says a lot about our lifestyle choices. Some hair conditions are out of our control and we need to work with what we have at our disposal. In most cases however, we can find better options to what we are doing now and drastically improve the overall condition of our hair.