By Alan J. Bauman, M.D.-
Crash dieting may seem like the perfect way to shed the unwanted pounds we all seem to inevitably pack on during the holidays, but they can have serious implications on our health. But unfortunately, despite the risks, these extreme dieting methods are gaining popularity, especially among young women who are willing to sacrifice their health in the name of beauty.
What many women and men don’t realize is, these “crash” diets are not only bad for their health; they are bad for your hair. Scientists agree that your hair follicles work pretty hard making hair, so if you deprive the body of nutrition you are likely to see some degree of hair fall, depending on the severity and length of the diet. Caloric, iron and protein deficiencies are among the most common nutritional triggers for unhealthy hair, which explains why extreme “crash” diets are so damaging to our locks.
Typically, you will see hair thinning and shedding approximately six to twelve weeks after the nutritional deprivation begins. Which is why each year, starting in February, we see an influx of new patients concerned about sudden hair loss resulting from New Year-inspired diets. Most patients are shocked to learn that there is a link between what they put into their bodies, or don’t put in, and the health of their hair. In simple terms, when your body thinks it’s starving, it doesn’t make ‘luxury’ items like hair.
Believe it or not, hair can be a very sensitive barometer of someone’s health, especially in women. So small changes in nutrition, hormone levels, sleep cycles, medications, stress, etc., can all wreak havoc on a woman’s head of hair. The severity of the effect a diet has on your hair is in proportion to your risk for hereditary hair loss. For those who are at risk for female pattern hair loss, the crash diet may be the catalyst to an onset of hair problems—accelerating the natural progression of hereditary hair loss.
But there is good news. For most people, this type of hair loss is usually temporary, but be prepared, it can still take anywhere from six to 10 months for your hair to return back to normal.
Eating a healthy, well balanced, protein-containing diet is important for maintaining healthy hair growth. In addition to protein, there are other “hair healthy foods” for those looking to increase their hair’s length, shine or thickness. Vitamins, especially of the vitamin B family such as biotin, are important to the overall health of your hair and preventing hair loss and thinning. Some of the best food choices for healthy hair include salmon, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acid, dark green vegetables for vitamins A and C, and nuts, which are a terrific source of zinc, which can prevent hair shedding.
If your diet choices alone aren’t giving you the results you desire, you may want to consider hair supplements. Just as many women take calcium supplements to improve their health, hair supplements can give your hair an added nutritional boost. Advanced nutritional supplement such as Viviscal Professional, which contains a patented ingredient called Amino-Mar, and biotin by Appearex which contains pharmaceutical-grade biotin are some of the doctor-recommended ways to support healthy hair growth and improve the overall quality and shine of your hair.
Another effective tool in promoting and stimulating healthy hair is low-level laser therapy. Originally approved for hair loss, new laser “combs” and “hoods” are being replaced by portable, cordless, hands-free, rechargeable “caps” that are now being used by to create thicker, fuller, healthier looking hair by optimizing your hair follicles’ hair production. By using low level laser therapy, weak or damaged follicles can grow thicker, stronger hair in just 30 minutes every other day.
Just remember, how you eat can determine how healthy, or unhealthy, your hair is, so think twice before starting an extreme New Year’s diet – or you might lose more than a few pounds!
If you are concerned about sudden hair loss or are experiencing thinning hair following an extreme diet, seek advice and an evaluation from a hair restoration physician for measurements, treatments and tracking because untreated hereditary hair loss always gets worse with time.
Consult with a board-certified hair restoration surgeon so that he or she can customize a “hair health plan of action” for you that may include suggestions about nutrition and ways to treat your shedding or thinning hair.
Crash Diets and Hair Loss:
• ‘Crash dieting’ isn’t just bad for the body; it can also lead to temporary hair loss.
• Four to six weeks after the start of a crash diet major shedding occurs throughout the crown of the head.
• Steep drop in nutrients to the body forces some hair follicles to shed their hair strands and go into a prolonged resting phase during which time no new hairs are grown.
• When your body thinks it’s starving, it doesn’t make ‘luxury’ items like hair.
• Condition is usually temporary, but it can still take six to 10 months for the hair to return back to normal.
• Caloric, iron and protein deficiencies are among the most common nutritional triggers for unhealthy hair.
• Vitamins, especially vitamins in the B family, are important to the overall health of your hair and preventing hair loss and thinning.
BAUMAN MEDICAL GROUP