Everything you need to know about hair loss
Healthy hair is something most of us tend to take for granted until our hair texture, thickness, and growth starts to take a turn for the worse. Our hair can be a direct indicator of a deeper issue or imbalance going on inside our body. Today we’re diving into all things hair loss – possible underlying causes relating to gut health and adrenal health, as well as nutrients and foods that can help support healthy hair.
How much hair loss is normal?
On average, the normal person loses around 50-100 hair per day (even more if you have long thick hair)! This is due to your hair’s lifecycle, where hairs are growing and dying in different phases. In a healthy situation, you have a majority of your hairs in the growing phase (anagen phase) and less of your hairs in the dormant and hair loss phase (catagen and telogen phases). As you can imagine, when hair loss occurs, you are losing hair at a faster pace than hair can grow and replenish.
If you are unsure if you are losing a normal or abnormal amount of hair, you might want to consider:
- How much hair are you losing in the shower – Strands? Clumps? Handfuls?
- How frequently do you need to clean your hairbrush before it is completely covered/filled with hair?
- How much hair comes out when you lightly comb your hands through your hair?
In most cases, you will definitely know when you’re losing hair! This process can happen quite suddenly, leaving you feeling super confused and frustrated as to what’s really going on.
Common Causes of Hair Loss
There are a ton of different reasons why someone might be experiencing hair loss. Hair loss can be caused by something as simple as the way you style your hair or feeling stressed out, but serious hair loss may be related to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, vitamin deficiencies, medications, and genetics.
- Hair loss can often result from a large hormonal event or imbalance – pregnancy, giving birth, entering menopause, etc. However, hair loss due to a sudden hormonal imbalance, likely caused by birth control or a drastic change in diet, is usually temporary and will subside once your hormones return to normal.
- Autoimmune diseases such as thyroid conditions, lupus, and PCOS are just a few of the many conditions that have been connected to hair loss. The underlying issue is again related to a hormone imbalance.
- Alopecia areata is another autoimmune condition that causes sudden patchy hair loss. This can be addressed with medication, but oftentimes it’s directly related to significant stress.
- Stress-related hair loss is SO common. Too much stress results in excess cortisol and adrenaline being released in the body, causing adrenal fatigue and, you guessed it, hair loss.
- Certain vitamin deficiencies have been linked to hair loss, specifically Riboflavin (vitamin B2), Biotin, Folate, and Vitamin B12.
- Nutrient deficiencies are also related to hair loss, specifically pertaining to low iron levels.
- Medications have an impact on hair health. Typically this can be seen when you start, adjust, or are on certain medications for too long. (FYI birth control causes many nutrient deficiencies and can deplete B vitamins).
- Genetics unsurprisingly play a part too. Hereditary hair loss can be super tough to treat (but not impossible). This type of hair loss is typically gradual and involves a receding hairline and bald spots in men and thinning the hair around the head’s crown in women.
Hair Loss and Gut Health
You may not associate your hair health with your gut, but as we like to say, it almost always starts in the gut! Your hair needs a lot of nutrients and energy to grow, which means that your gut health needs to be in complete check (since that’s where we absorb everything!).
Here are some things to think about that all connect to hair health:
- Are you eating enough (seriously, are you)?
- Are you eating nutrient-dense meals? Are you feeding your body what it needs? (hint: if you are undereating or cutting out an entire food group, this could be the problem!)
- Are you absorbing your food (this is huge!)? Malabsorption of nutrients is directly related to hair loss.
- How are you digesting your food? (hint: without the proper digestion, we do not have adequate absorption)
- How does your gut feel? Inflamed? Irritated? Angry?
- How often are you consuming inflammatory foods (think: processed, dairy, and gluten)?
All of these things above need to be carefully considered and addressed if you want to reduce hair loss.
Hair Loss and Adrenal Health
The adrenaline from emotional events and life stressors can have a major impact on our hair’s health. When your body experiences acute or chronic stress, adrenaline floods your system resulting in your body feeling completely burnt out. Think of this like a car running on no gas – it is out of fuel and is not being refilled properly.
Under prolonged stress or chronic adrenal fatigue, your hair may develop a straw-like texture and begin falling out. This is because your body prioritizes its energy going towards vital organ systems to help keep us functioning and is less worried about the hair on our head.
If this sounds like you, we have a full blog post on how to rebuild and restore your adrenals HERE!
Foods for Hair Health
Your diet is SO important and impactful on your hair health. Food not only provides us with energy but is packed with nutrients that help support healthy hair.
Nutrients to focus on for hair health:
- Vitamin C
- B Vitamins
- Quality Proteins
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Healthy Fats (Omega-3’s)
Many of these nutrients can be found in nutrient-rich whole-foods. However, if your diet lacks some of these nutrients, it may be a good idea to take some supplements to ensure you are getting what your body needs.
Food to focus on for hair health:
- Leafy greens
- Hemp Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds
- Sweet Potatoes, Squash, and Root Vegetables
- Oysters (they’re super high in zinc)
Not only do you want your hair to look good, but you want to feel good on the inside too. Chances are, when you’re losing hair, something deeper is going on. Be sure to address possible underlying causes of your hair loss and then support your body through lifestyle-related changes.