People usually shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs each day, and this is normal, reports MayoClinic.com. Hair loss occurs when that hair is not replaced by new hair growing in its place. Many factors can cause this hair loss, including poor nutrition, stress, and a serious medical condition. However, one of the main factors contributing to hair loss is genetics, which can influence many aspects of hair loss, including when it starts, how much hair is lost, and how quickly it happens. Though for some people and in some situations, hair loss cannot be prevented, for many people, there are ways to minimize, prevent or stop hair loss.
Your diet is foundational to not only your overall health and general well being, but also to the health of your hair. As a result, the best way to prevent or stop hair loss, even hair loss that is hereditary, is to watch what you eat. In addition to eating a variety of foods across the different food groups, you should follow these suggestions about foods to include and foods to avoid.
Make sure to eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are essential for hair growth and resiliency. More importantly, fruits and vegetables have flavonoids, an antioxidant that safeguards against cell damage, including damage to hair follicles. At the same time, you should avoid foods with high amounts of starch, salt, and refined sugars, which can accelerate damage to your cells.
In addition to eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, you should limit the amount of fat in your diet. Diets high in fat may cause hair loss to accelerate because fat raises testosterone levels, which in turn causes the body to increase the amount of dyhidrotestosterone (DHT) it produces. DHT is one of the leading threats to the health of hair follicles, attaching to them and destroying them over time. One way to reduce the fat in your diet is to reduce the amount of protein you consume via red meats and pork. Protein that comes from other sources, such as beans and nuts, are a healthier option when it comes to the health of your hair.
Another step you could take to reduce your risk of hereditary hair loss or stop hair loss that has already started is to ensure you are getting enough zinc and iron. A zinc deficiency can cause hair to become less resilient, more susceptible to damage, because zinc in necessary to promote the healthy function of sebaceous glands, which secrete oils that lubricate and moisturize hair. An iron deficiency can cause you to shed much more hair than is normal. If your diet does not provide sufficient amounts of zinc or iron, you should take vitamin supplements.
Another step you could take to prevent hair loss is to be aware of the side effects of any prescriptions you are taking. Anything that increases your body’s production of certain hormones, especially DHT, can lead to hair loss. So, if you have a high genetic risk of hair loss, you should avoid those prescriptions or ask for an alternative. For example, for women, certain oral contraceptives may increase the chances of hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association. Women who have a genetic risk of hair loss should ask for a low androgen index birth control.
Lastly, if you are experiencing hair loss, you can slow or stop hair loss by using minoxidil, a non-prescription topical cream that you massage into your scalp twice a day, or by taking finasteride, a prescription medication that affects the amount of DHT your body produces. Both minoxidil and finasteride are effective at stopping hair loss and may even help you regrow lost hair.
Finally, if you are experiencing hair loss, it is important to see a doctor or dermatologist to make sure your hair loss is not the result of a serious medical condition. A doctor or dermatologist may also be able to recommend further treatments specific to your needs.
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