February 07, 2014

Hair Loss

Hair is made up of a protein called keratin that is produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells. 

There are many types of hair loss - 
  • Involutional alopecia is a natural condition in which the hair gradually thins with age. As people age, hair follicles go into the resting phase and the rate of hair growth slows.
  • Androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition that can affect both men and women. Men with this condition, called male pattern baldness, can begin suffering hair loss as early as their teens or early 20s. Women with this condition, called female pattern baldness, don't experience noticeable thinning until their 40s or later. 
  • Alopecia areata often starts suddenly and causes patchy hair loss in children and young adults. This condition may result in complete baldness. But in about 90% of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years.
  • Telogen effluvium is temporary hair thinning over the scalp that occurs because of changes in the growth cycle of hair. A large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time, causing hair shedding and subsequent thinning.
Cause
  • Hormones, such as abnormal levels of androgens (male hormones normally produced by both men and women).
  • Genes from both male and female parents, influence a person's predisposition to male or female pattern baldness.
  • Stress, illness, and childbirth can cause temporary hair loss. 
  • Ringworm caused by a fungal infection can also cause hair loss.
  • Drugs, including chemotherapy drugs used in cancer treatment, blood thinners and beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure and birth control pills, can cause temporary hair loss.
  • Burns, injuries, and X-rays can cause temporary hair loss. In such cases, normal hair growth usually returns once the injury heals.
  • Autoimmune disease may cause alopecia areata. In alopecia areata, the immune system revs up for unknown reasons and affects the hair follicles. In most people with alopecia areata, the hair grows back, although it may temporarily be very fine and possibly a lighter color before normal coloration and thickness return.
  • Cosmetic procedures, such as shampooing too often, perms, bleaching, and dyeing hair can contribute to overall hair thinning by making hair weak and brittle. Tight braiding, using rollers or hot curlers, and running hair picks through tight curls can also damage and break hair. However, these procedures don't cause baldness but may cause severe damage to the hair or scalp leading to permanent bald patches

Foods that may help preventing hair loss


  • Omega-3 fatty acids – They support scalp health; a deficiency can lead to dry scalp and dull hair. Good sources include salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
  • Vegetable oil – This prevents dry and lustre less hair. Healthy oils like olive, peanut, safflower, and sunflower can restore the shine. About a teaspoon a day will do the trick.
  • Vitamin C – Fruits and veggies full of vitamin C help your body absorb iron. Getting too little C makes hair dry and weak. It helps to produce sebum, a scalp oil that works as a natural hair conditioner. The best sources are Broccoli, leafy greens, green peppers, citrus fruit, and strawberries.
  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is a nourishing agent for your hair and skin. Vitamin A protects against dull hair and dry skin which is a leading cause of dandruff by helping scalp to produce sebum. The best foods to get glowing hair and skin include sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut squash, asparagus, and pumpkin.
  • Silica - Mineral silica found in banana, oats and raisins is thought to improve hair thickness.
  • Biotin - Biotin, a B vitamin promotes hair growth and overall scalp health. A deficiency can cause brittle hair. High-biotin foods include eggs, peanuts, almonds, wheat bran, salmon, low-fat cheese, and avocados.
  • Iron - The mineral iron helps reduce hair fall and increase circulation in the scalp as well, which then fuels hair growth. Foods that are high in iron include liver, apricots and raisins.
  • Protein – Because the hair is made of protein, a protein deficiency can cause hair loss. Add protein to the diet by including animal products, such as meat and dairy, or pulses and legumes.
Functional Food – Black Strap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses contains high amounts of iron, manganese, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium and vitamin B6. Consuming foods that have a dense nutritional profile like blackstrap molasses is the best way to maintain good hair health.
Blackstrap molasses contains manganese, a potent antioxidant. It is also loaded with antioxidant chemical compounds known as phenols. Antioxidants can contribute to good hair health because they fight free radical activity and oxidative stress, which assists in the proliferation of many different symptoms of premature aging, including grey hair and hair loss. Anecdotal evidence suggests that taking blackstrap molasses can help to slow and even reverse the proliferation of grey hair. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains over 20% the DV of copper, which is essential for hair pigmentation. 
Using blackstrap molasses externally may greatly improve overall hair quality. Try massaging the molasses into your hair and letting it sit for one hour. Rinse and repeat daily for maximum benefits.
Pointers
  • Leave your hair its natural colour and texture or else give your hair time to recover between hair blowouts and chemical treatments.
  • Use a basic shampoo designed for your hair type. When curling your hair, choose less-damaging sponge rollers. Also, brush your hair using a moderately stiff, natural-bristle brush, which is less likely to tear your hair.
  • Proper hair brushing can do as much for the condition of your hair as any over-the-counter product. Using a proper brush, apply full strokes from the scalp to the tips of your hair to distribute the hair's natural oil. Be gentle, and avoid brushing your hair when wet, when it is especially fragile. It is best to use a comb on wet hair.
  • The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day; so finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for alarm.
  • Reduce Alcoholic Beverages to Reduce Hair Loss. Drinking alcohol reduces hair growth. Reduce or eliminate alcohol from the diet and you will see an increase in hair growth. 
  • Excessive exposure to the sun, pollution, rain water and dust without proper protection makes the hair dry, brittle and limp. Use a live in conditioner during the rains to protect it from the humidity and wash and oil it regularly to maintain a healthy scalp.
  • If suffering from hair loss, avoid sugary and starchy foods, sugar alternatives such as artificial sweeteners, fried foods and food additives.
  • Consuming blackstrap molasses on a daily basis can contribute to good hair health. Two teaspoons per day are recommended alongside an active, healthy diet for maximum benefit to the hair.
  • Drink plenty of water for healthy hair.

References

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