If you ask me about hair growth my first question to you will be “tell me about your health and lifestyle habits first”. Simply put, hair is a great way to get deeper insight into someone’s health. As a primary care physician, often times one of the first complaints that I receive from patients include concerns on their stunted hair growth, thinning hair, or hair breakage. People fail to realize that disease can at times manifest itself in your hair’s appearance.
For those focused on hair goals, my primary suggestion to you is to take a quick inventory of your health. As much as genetics are important to the hair conversation, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is equally important. One cannot bypass the steps to wellness and still expect their hair to grow. Here are some pointers to help with your goals:
Are you healthy? Routine health check ups are key to answering this question. The expectation is that a person who is up to date on their care has been staying on track with their preventive screenings, labs have been otherwise fairly normal, and they have optimized their health status. You are functioning at your best. Health conditions such as obesity, anemia, thyroid disorders, infections, autoimmune conditions, and more all can have significant impacts on hair growth and appearance. Medications can also play a part in hair loss and that state of your hair. The bottomline is you need to be up-to-date with your health status and make sure you have no undiagnosed medical conditions that need to be managed. So check in with your doctor and be sure to share with them any recent or dramatic changes seen with your hair.
Ok, hear me out. Explain to me how you expect to see hair growth if your diet is far from balanced and nutritious. The math has to add up. Remember your hair follicles have a required blood supply system and need to be getting enough blood flow and nutrients to flourish. The phrase “you are what you eat” applies to our overall appearance, including hair. Our diet requirements include a balance of the vitamins and nutrients needed to have positive effects on the cells in our bodies. Diets low in protein and iron have been shown to cause hair loss. Don’t put off revamping your diet especially if you have feel tired, sluggish, had difficulty concentrating, among other symptoms.. You may be deficient in nutrients and its showing through your hair. It’s time to be intentional about what you eat.
Now, let’s not all run and get a gym membership just yet. Exercise does not improve hair growth DIRECTLY. But exercise has been shown to improve overall health in general. There was a recent update to exercise guidelines that aimed to reemphasize why staying active is so beneficial to health. This component helps with the first point previously mentioned regarding overall health status. Despite having detailed recommendations of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week. Only about a quarter of the US population has been keeping up with this. Even with knowing that such activities, improve circulation, digestion, cognition and more. Remember this is about more than hair strand health. Being healthy on all fronts impacts everything. Keep in mind getting active doesn’t have to be boring too! Take the time to think about how you can get creative with exercise. What activities do you enjoy?
Your body depends on water to survive. Some of the associated health benefits of water include: getting rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, and protects sensitive tissues. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women, which is 125 oz and 92 oz respectively. Dehydration does stunt hair growth! This causes your hair to become dry, brittle which ultimately promotes breakage. Signs of chronic dehydration include frequent headaches, difficulty concentrating, dry skin, and decreased endurance with activity. A helpful tip I often share with patients is to keep a water bottle with you whenever you can and in your frequently visited locations: work, office desk, your bag, car, etc. Make reaching for water extremely convenient to help with maintaining adequate hydration.
To end, any hair regime that fails to promote establishing a healthy lifestyle first and foremost is a setup for failure. Our outer appearance is a reflection how well we take care of ours bodies. Before getting specific about hair products and techniques, get healthy first and for the stake of those textured strands!