Hair loss causes can be roughly divided into two categories – genetic and lifestyle, although the two may interact in complex ways. Hereditary-pattern baldness, for example, is a natural condition caused by some combination of genetics, hormone levels and the ageing process, according to Harvard Health. On the lifestyle end of the spectrum is a response to extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment.
According to Dr Michael May from The Wimpole Clinic, diet is an overlooked cause of hair loss.
He attributes the connection to not getting enough nutrients.
Dr May explained: “As we all know the human body is incredibly complex and requires a wide range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to function and maintain a healthy immune system.
“These nutrients will generally come from a well-balanced and healthy diet that consists of different foods that contain a wide range of different nutritional properties.”
He continued: “Inevitably when you deprive the body of certain nutrients, or reduce the amount, it can indeed have a knock-on effect that includes the health of your hair.
“A vast amount of energy is required to keep up with the cell turnover of hair follicles. This energy comes from carbohydrates. Hence why low carb diets can deplete the body of vital sources of energy and can lead to increased hair shedding.”
According to Dr May, the hair growth cycle is categorised by four stages.
The first stage is where the hair is actively growing, which can last from two to seven years.
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It then enters the 10-day catagen phase where hair follicles shrink and growth stops.
The third stage is the telogen phase where hair rests for up to three months while new hair grows underneath.
During the final exogen phase the old hair will fall out to make way for the new one.
“In the case of low carb diets, during the body’s transitional stage of adapting to a new diet more hair follicles will enter the telogen stage, hence an increased hair loss,” explained Dr May.
However, as Dr May pointed out, you should watch what carbohydrates you are in taking as a diet that is rich in processed foods and refined carbs with high levels of simple sugars could stimulate the body to produce more androgens, which are male hormones.
“Too many of these hormones can cause hair thinning and the balding process,” he warned.
Refined (simple carbohydrates) are those that include sugars and refined grains.
They are stripped of all bran, fibre, and nutrients needed to boost your health.
Common examples are white bread, pasta, pastries, white flour, and white rice.
“Complex carbohydrates are higher in fibre, and are digested more slowly, these create less of a sugar spike and should form the foundations of our carbohydrate diets,” advised Dr May.
How to cope with hair loss
While you try to establish the underlying cause of your hair loss, you may benefit from some psychological support.
As the NHS explains, there are groups around the country where you can meet and socialise with other people with alopecia.
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