We all lose up to 100 strands of hair per day, so shedding hair is a fact of life. But what’s the plan of action for when hair loss becomes more than just the annoyance of a clogged shower drain, and we begin to see less hair growing back than we’re losing?
For a growing number of women–and men–hair loss is your body sending you a message that something isn’t quite right.
There are several different kinds of hair loss, and most share a root cause. Read on to find out the main causes of hair loss, and what you can do to get your lush locks back to their former glory.
Causes of Hair Loss
Hair loss isn’t just the luck (or unluck) of the draw. Yes, certain genetics do sometimes play a role, but the type of hair loss that is rapidly becoming more common is a symptom of a larger problem.
Before we take a closer look at larger signals that could be brewing, let’s rule out some common lifestyle blunders that you could be unknowingly committing upon your hair.
Because hair is made of non-essential proteins, it can be one of the first things to be deprioritized in times of poor nutrition. We might all disagree on a personal level, but biologically, hair isn’t a necessity for life, so if nutrient availability is low, they’re prioritized toward more important functions (1).
The vast majority of Americans are deficient in some of the key nutrients required for hair growth (2)(3)(4):
- Biotin (38%)
- B Vitamins (5-20%)
- Magnesium (52.2%)
- Zinc (11.7%)
- Folate (9.5%)
One culprit is our high consumption of sugar and flours, which make us feel full but are nutritionally bankrupt in terms of the calories they provide. Processed food doesn’t provide the crucial vitamins and trace nutrients we need for such “nonessential” things like strong, healthy hair.
Below optimal levels of magnesium, folate, iron, and B12 can lead to noticeable hair loss. Lush Locks has all of these micronutrients, plus L-cysteine, an amino acid that’s a big deal for hair health.
If you’ve never heard of this little amino acid before, prepare for it to become your new favorite.
The Most Essential “Nonessential” Amino Acid
Your hair is made up of three layers: the medulla, the cortex, and the cuticle. The cuticle is the outermost layer, and the medulla is the innermost layer, whose thickness is determined mostly by heredity (5).
The most prominent layer is the middle layer, or cortex, as it makes up almost 80% of a single hair strand. The cortex is made up of keratin molecules tightly bundled together that provide strength for the hair. Guess what 75-80% of each bundle of keratin is made up of? (6)
You guessed it: L-cysteine.
L -cysteine is one of the few molecules in the body capable of making disulfide bonds, and these disulfide bonds are what hold keratin strands together, and allow each hair to retain moisture and prevent dryness (7).
L-cysteine is made in our body from another amino acid, methionine, that we get from the food we eat.
Unfortunately for our hair, methionine plays dozens of other important roles in the body such as DNA repair and maintaining cellular health, and there’s not always enough circulating L-cysteine that gets directed toward hair growth (8).
In my practice, I use Lush Locks to boost L-cysteine levels, promote new hair growth, and stop further hair loss.
Not addressing your hair loss now can cost you years of anxiety, and hundreds of dollars in failed “quick fixes” that just try to cover up the problem.
My Reverse Hair Loss course brings into balance the triggers responsible for hair loss by addressing them right at their source. Don’t sacrifice another month of naturally strong, beautiful hair. Learn how to reverse hair loss and regrow thick, gorgeous hair.
Stress and Autoimmune Disorders Interrupt Hair Growth
Stress isn’t only linked to things like high blood pressure, fatigue, and weight gain. It’s also a big factor for hair loss as well.
Each hair follicle on the body moves through a series of phases. Stress can interrupt a hair follicle’s growth (anagen) phase, causing more hairs than usual to progress into their shedding (telogen) phase. We call this telogen effluvium, and it’s just a fancy way to say that you’re noticing excessive hair falling out (5).
Alopecia areata is another type of hair loss that is exacerbated by stress, but also by immune function. Alopecia areata is usually characterized by circular bald patches on the head, rather than all-over hair loss.
With alopecia areata, your body’s immune system attacks your own hair follicles. Any condition that involves the production of antibodies against your own tissues fits the definition of an autoimmune disorder. There’s one particular type of antibody that’s a likely culprit.
Antibodies to gliadin, which is a derivative of gluten found in wheat, can lead to cross-reacting antibodies that also attack hair follicles. Therefore, gluten intolerance can also be a factor in hair loss (9).
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that antigliadin antibodies are only one factor, but autoimmune conditions share a root cause.
The Gut…Hair? Connection. (Yes, it’s real)
Leaky gut is almost always an issue with autoimmune conditions. Reversing symptoms of autoimmune must always begin with healing the intestinal lining (10).
Inflammation from poorly digested food causes the space between intestinal cells to become larger than usual, allowing proteins that haven’t been properly broken down yet to be absorbed.
The body sees these too-large proteins as intruders and begins to mount an appropriate response by producing antibodies that encode that protein structure for future response. An overstimulated immune system then begins to see previously harmless foods as intruders (10).
Unfortunately, human tissues have proteins that look similar to foods, bacteria, and fungi, and can sometimes become collateral damage to an overactive immune system.
Healing the gut and addressing food sensitivities is paramount for immune health, and therefore the health of your tresses as well.
Even though digestive health is the ultimate foundation, we’re about to cover the biggest reason for hair loss today, and one that is totally modifiable if you know where to start.
Hair Loss from Hormone Imbalance and PCOS
Some of you probably aren’t surprised to hear that hormone balance is a leading cause of poor hair health, especially from what I’ve noticed in my clinic.
75% of women struggle with hormone imbalance at some point throughout their life–myself included–and hair loss is one of the most common ways it presents itself.
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, also affects 1 in 10 women in the U.S. It’s the single most common hormone condition in women of childbearing age (11). Chances are, you know someone who’s trying to navigate the challenges PCOS has thrust upon their life.
PCOS usually occurs when the pituitary gland produces higher than normal amounts of luteinizing hormone (LH) and the pancreas produces too much insulin, which results in increased testosterone production in the ovaries (11).
So what’s a girl to do when hormone imbalance causes hair loss?
Follow these basic steps, and if necessary, work with your integrative practitioner to determine your exact needs.
- Eat well, and balance blood sugar. Increased insulin is a hallmark of PCOS, and is not healthy for the body over the long term. Reduce or eliminate grains, processed foods, and sugar. Maintain healthy protein and fat intake (especially omega-3s). Focus on deep-colored fruits and veggies.
- Exercise. Daily movement increases insulin sensitivity and reduces stress. Find a form of movement that works for YOU. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.
- Improve gut health. Intestinal bacteria dictate a large portion of our health. Minimize inflammation in the gut by nourishing your probiotic bacteria.
- Address your adrenals. Self-care isn’t indulgent, it’s actually a necessity for healthy hormone function. Your adrenals love a good massage, time spent with friends–and especially sleep!
Hair loss is increasingly common for women now, because the drivers of hair loss–hormone imbalance, toxin exposure & detox, stress, thyroid conditions, and nutrient deficiencies–are more common as well.
But that doesn’t mean we’re powerless to stand by and watch as our hair hits the floor, countertop, or pillowcase.
With diet, lifestyle, and the right supplement additions, we can all take steps to put a foundation in place for strong, healthy hair.
7 Habits for Healthy Hair to Start Right Now
- Focus on whole foods, prioritize organic (but see No. 3).
- Supplement accordingly (L-cysteine, magnesium, B vitamins).
- Balance hormones.
- Nourish gut health.
- Take care of your scalp with massages to stimulate blood flow.
- Protect your hair with natural products, not harsh cleansers that strip healthy oils.
Have you been struggling with hair loss, searching product after product for a solution? Stop wasting time, money, and frustration on quick-fix products that don’t support healthy hair growth.
You deserve to feel confident and beautiful in your own skin, and that includes having a full, thick head of hair.
Stop feeling self-conscious about your thinning hair and address the triggers of hair loss at their source. Stop hair loss and regrow thick, lush hair naturally.
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