Pretty soon our TV ads and social feeds will be filled with Summer Body challenges and weight loss supplements again. 'THEY' say, "Summer bodies are made in Winter", but WE say it's important to look after yourself (and your hair) all year round! And what's more, a healthy body (and mind) are more closely linked to healthy hair than you know...
There's a lot of evidence out there to suggest that healthy eating habits (and certain, specific foods), a healthy body (more movement) and less stress (as well as mindful thinking and relaxation techniques) can have a significant effect on the general quality and appearance of your hair and help to slow or improve your hair loss. So what can you do to improve the Mind / Body / Hair connection in your own life?
Don't rush it and DON'T fall for 'miracle' cures
It's best to take a holistic approach to your health and wellness over a sustained period. Rather than 'diet' or 'detox' for short periods, look towards making changes that help you feel your best through long-term, improved well-being. Beware of quick fix options that aren’t feasible over short periods and can’t be sustained as they'll almost always lead to disappointment and frustration but worse yet, rapid, drastic changes wreak havoc on the health of your hair. 'Miracle' cures like hair growth serums, hair growth gummies and hair growth shampoos can't fix most, if not all, of the core hair loss factors linked to health. They may help to support healthy hair over time but the internal changes you can make for yourself will have far better results - not just on your hair, but your general health and well-being too.
Does health and wellness really affect my hair?
Studies have shown a direct link between various lifestyle habits, thinning hair, female pattern baldness and Alopecia. Alopecia has no identifiable cause and many medical professionals consider it to be an auto-immune based syndrome with at least some hereditary factors but a sample group of Alopecia sufferers also exhibited an increased risk for obesity (3.5 fold) and hypertension (5.6 fold) as well as a positive correlation between early female pattern hair loss and waist circumference. Alopecia and thinning hair may therefore be linked more closely to our lifestyle than we think and making changes to our general health and well-being could be one of the best ways to limit hair loss over time.
What IS the Mind / Body / Hair Connection?
Quit smoking. Don’t drink. Eat well. Exercise… those seem to be the ‘big ticket items’ we all know about, but there are many other, more subtle changes that have the capacity to significantly improve your hair health too. Instead of looking for those miracle cures, it may be time to take a good look at your general habits and consider whether a few small changes could have a huge impact on you – and your hair health. We've pulled together a number of resources and summarised a general checklist below for you to help improve your general health and wellness with a view to seeing gorgeous hair as an end result:
- Reduce the saturated fats in your diet – Eating more fruits and veggies might seem a bit cliché, but filling up on the good stuff is definitely the best way to start your wellness journey! There are many great ways to include more vegetables in your cooking... Instead of fried rice, substitute cauliflower, use zucchini strips instead of pasta under your favourite Bolognese or try making one meat-free meal a week to up your veggie intake. There are other basic tricks too that can make a huge difference… Did you know that both an egg white and an egg yolk have the same amount of protein? The yolk just contains more fat so substitute two egg whites instead of one whole egg in your favourite recipes. Try cooking with herbs, spices or lemon juice instead of butter or margarine – you’ll really taste the difference!
- Eat more fibre – Adding more fibre to your diet can help to eliminate toxins and improve your overall body function. It can also seem like a difficult task but there are definitely ways to up your intake easily so try breakfast cereals that contain barley, wheat or oats, switch to wholemeal/multigrain breads and brown rice, add an extra vegetable to every evening meal and snack on fruit, dried fruit, nuts or wholemeal crackers. “You are what you eat,” has never had more relevance to a healthy head of hair!
- Detox your scalp – We worry so much about our hair that we often forget about our scalps. The chemical-heavy products we use every day can irritate our scalp and hair follicles. A scalp detox might be just what the doctor ordered! Apple Cider Vinegar acts as a disinfectant for the scalp and helps prevent fungal growth. The active enzyme in Apple Cider Vinegar is malic acid which has antiseptic properties and helps to prevent the growth of infection, bacteria and yeasts that cause inflammation and may contribute to hair loss. It’s worth looking after your scalp with this simple, natural pantry staple, so simply apply it topically to maintain the pH balance of the scalp and prevent dryness and itching. It's a natural cleanser that removes dirt and the remains of styling gels and shampoos that potentially clog your follicles and contains essential nutrients like potassium, iron, vitamins a, C, B1, B6, which stimulate hair growth and helps to heal the scalp. Wet your hair thoroughly. Take ½ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar and apply it on to wet hair. Massage your scalp. Leave it on for 20 minutes and rinse it off with water. Repeat this 2-3 times a week and you’ll feel like you have a brand new head!
- Include a little exercise every day – It doesn’t take much to lift your basic activity levels a little. You may have heard that ‘sitting’ is the ‘new smoking’ because sitting for more than 11 hours a day can raise your risks of serious health issues and the risk of premature death by more than 40%! The good news? A minimum of one hour of moderate physical activity a day can effectively eliminate those risks. So grab a friend or your dog and get moving! A one hour investment in your health seems to be well worth the effort.
- Grab an Avo! – Experts say avocado is a big deal for people who want to lose weight and be healthy despite its high-fat content. Monounsaturated fatty acids found in the fruit are used in the body as slow burning energy rather than stored as body fat. This gives a feeling of fullness, reduce hunger and help to prevent you from eating more. The fibre in avocado helps prevent the recurrence of inflammatory bowel disease and slows the progression of diseases like diverticulitis. Avocado has antioxidant properties and high content of vitamin E, protects the skin from signs of ageing and also guards against photo-ageing from sun exposure. The Vitamin C in an avocado helps the body produce elastin and collagen - vital in helping to maintain the skin’s elasticity, regulate hair growth and prevent hair loss. Try a hair masque using avocado products - the oil is easily absorbed into the hair follicles and makes the hair shiny and supple while the Omega-3 fatty acids add shine, moisture and help to prevent split ends.
- Get more ‘Zen’ – It’s well-known that stress affects our bodies and our hair. It seems that one of the most difficult aspects of modern stress is finding an effective way to handle it. A few few dedicated minutes a day using mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, and yoga can have significant impact though. Large population-based research studies have indicated that the practice of mindfulness is strongly correlated with well-being and perceived health. Try some free mindfulness exercises via the apps listed here. Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress and boost your energy, mood and well-being and a healthy mind deserves a healthy head of hair to cover it of course!
Wellness could be just around the corner for you!
You may actually be inadvertently contributing to your hair loss by not putting yourself first. Don’t get caught up in the external pressure to look or be a certain way - focus on your overall health and well-being and do it for YOU! You might not be able to achieve all of these things at once, but select one or two at a time and try to incorporate them into your lifestyle. Thinning hair can result from a number of different lifestyle and health factors and while you can’t always fix the problem in one go, you can certainly aim for improvement. Optimal health overall will result in a healthier, happier you… with a shinier, healthier head of hair to boot!