Hair fall: top 6 reasons for hair loss and how you can prevent it

Your hair is a barometer of your internal health. There are much deeper aspects to hair loss, and it does not depend on just one nutrient. It requires understanding the root causes and adding the necessary foods and nutrients to support healthy hair.
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Many women struggle with hair fall, and the most common thing that they try and do to help this is to take biotin supplements. They also spend a lot of money on expensive hair treatments without considering physiological aspects. They get stressed that their hair is falling so much in spite of them taking biotin.

Do you struggle with this challenge yourself? Your hair, just like your skin, is a barometer of your internal health. The truth is that there are much deeper aspects to hair loss, and one nutrient aimed at solving it is rarely going to be effective by itself. It requires understanding the root causes of hair fall, considering several other factors, and adding the necessary foods and nutrients to support healthy hair.

Root causes of hair fall

Before looking at those promised supplements targeted at great hair, consider two aspects. The first is understanding triggers of physiological imbalance and the second is understanding nutritional deficiencies. It is only when physiology has been addressed overall and you still need specific support, that you should look towards biotin.

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1. Excess hair coloring and straightening treatments are perhaps the biggest root cause of hair fall. Salons might tell you that they are safe and that they follow with conditioning, but there is much more to this.

When you add chemicals on the hair, they are exogenous toxins which your liver must detoxify. This puts a load on the liver, where it sidelines other functions, including the metabolism and excretion of hormones. This can lead to imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones. For other interventions to be effective, you need to reduce the toxic load coming from outside.

2. Low ferritin levels is another big root cause of excess hair fall. Many women are low in ferritin, especially if they are estrogen dominant with heavy periods.

Your ferritin stores need to be even better than normal if you are prone to hair fall. Use of antacids depletes stomach acid and reduces the breakdown, absorption, and utilisation of iron.

I see even young girls with depleted ferritin because of the use of antacids.

3. Thyroid dysfunction needs to be considered as well. You might not have excessively abnormal lab ranges where your doctor puts you on medication, but you can have suboptimal levels. This can lead to hair fall.

4. Post pregnancy is a common time when women lose hair due to the sudden crash of hormones and loss of nutrients from breastfeeding. It is very important to work with someone during that phase to replenish nutrient loss. It is this very reason that also leads to postpartum depression.

5. On the note of depression, anti-depressants are another root cause of hair fall. Several nutrient deficiencies can mimic mental health challenges as well. Even if you are on anti-depressants, consider looking deeper at nutrient status and inflammation. Diets deficient in protein, iron, B12, zinc, vitamin A, C, and D can all trigger hair fall.

6. High stress raises cortisol and increases inflammation. It also reduces progesterone output, leading to estrogen dominance. High stress also increases adrenaline and reduces thyroid hormone output. In spite of awareness of the dangers of stress, many of us do not prioritise ten minutes a day on mindfulness and meditation.

What must we consider with hair fall?

There are several other factors that we must consider when we look at hair fall. Before considering specific foods, we need to bring attention to overall lifestyle and physiology improvements.

1. Avoid bleaching, chemical coloring, straightening, and perming of hair. Many women found themselves having less hair fall just from stopping a weekly hair color for their grey hair. Consider more natural options which can allow you to address your grey hair, if you are not someone who is ready to be grey. That is totally up to you personally. Consider oiling your hair and scalp with an ayurvedic oil every week, letting it soak for one hour, and gently rinsing it off with a chemical free shampoo.

2. Make sure that you address iron levels in two ways. The first is to put a stop to antacids and improve stomach acid by having some lemon water. Build it up slowly so that you do not cause digestive distress. The second aspect is to get adequate iron from foods. If you are an omnivore, eating small amounts of red meat is a great way to boost ferritin. If you are plant based, it is especially important that you increase stomach acid and include leafy greens in combination with foods that contain vitamin C.

3. Focus on improving your gut health by consuming more fibre from a range of colorful fruits and vegetables. The more fibre there is, the better your microbiome.

4. Include inverted postures from yoga if you do not have high blood pressure or neck issues. Bringing fresh blood flow to the head through a head stand, or a shoulder stand is a great way to support healthy hair.

5. Balance hormones by reducing stress and including plenty of hormone supportive foods. The more balanced all hormones are, the better your hair.

Foods to reduce hair fall

There are several foods that are wonderful for hair health, as they are nutrient dense and full of specific nutrients required for healthy hair.

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1. Some of these foods are great forms of healthy fats and therefore they help to build healthy hormones. These include ghee, nuts, seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and flax. Flax seeds also help top detoxify estrogen, restoring balance between estrogen and progesterone.

2. Some of them are rich in iron. Having optimal ferritin stores is key to addressing hair fall. Remember though that iron can only be absorbed if you do not deplete your stomach acid with the use of antacids. These foods include red meat, leafy greens, and kidney beans. Keep red meat portions very small, just the size of condiments, and combine them with plenty of vegetables.

3. Fatty fish are rich in omega-3, healthy fats, and protein. Protein is a solid building block of amino acids, which are required if you want healthy hair. Eggs with yolks are also wonderful for the same reason. Do not eat your eggs without the yolk.

4. Buckwheat is a wonderful pseudo grain, which is also a soluble fibre. It helps with satiety, detoxification, and building a healthy gut microbiome. In combination with leafy greens and optimal proteins, it can be a fantastic meal, full of balance.

It takes gentle steps to address hair fall. Begin with one area every month and be consistent with your efforts before adding one more. More than anything, relax.

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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