By Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP
We all want a head of thick, shiny hair, don’t we? In fact, an entire industry is devoted to helping us get the hair we want. But maybe the solution isn’t found in a bottle. A number of factors from the food you eat to your gut health, and even natural fluctuations in your hormones can affect your hair.
Here are some tips on keeping your hair looking its best.
Our culture associates beautiful hair with a lot of desirable qualities: youth, sexiness, and even health. But sometimes our hair doesn’t measure up on how we want to present ourselves to the world. Let’s face it: thin, brittle, frizzy hair just doesn’t look as good.
As we age our hair starts to show signs of wear and tear. Poor nutrition, hormonal imbalances, and even stress can contribute to hair problems. Faced with too many “bad hair days,” many people turn to the drug store or salon in hopes of finding the perfect product.
The Best Nutrients For Beautiful Hair
The truth is that beautiful hair starts from within. Our hair is composed of a protein called keratin. One of the main ways we produce more keratin (and hence more, stronger hair) is from biotin, also called vitamin B7. We can find biotin in foods like eggs, almonds, and sweet potatoes.
Healthy Gut Bacteria Means Healthy Hair
But sometimes eating all the right things isn’t enough. Researchers have found that the number of bad bacteria in your gut influences biotin production. You can improve the balance of bacteria in your gut through good nutrition, stress reduction, taking a pharmacy grade probiotic supplement and reducing your sugar intake.
Changing Hormones Can Affect Your Hair
Your hormones can also influence your gut – and your hair. If you’re having problems with your hair, a good first step is to check your hormone levels. Your levels of cortisol, thyroid hormone, and estrogen can all impact your hair growth.
At Wise Woman Wellness in De Pere (near Green Bay) Wisconsin, we offer hormone testing at our clinic as the first step to identify what is causing your symptoms and start by testing levels of three female hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) and two adrenal stress hormones (cortisol and DHEA) along with thyroid hormones if warranted.
Can Your Reverse Hair Loss Due To Thyroid Issues?
Many of my patients ask me if hair loss due to thyroid issues is reversible …and usually it is with proper diagnosis and treatment.
At Wise Woman Wellness we offer in-depth thyroid testing and begin with a thorough symptoms analysis, physical exam, measurement of your deep tendon reflex speed (which indicates your intracellular thyroid function) and frequently order 9 different blood tests.
We identify hypothyroidism for many women who have had a past TSH test result that was technically in or near the broad “normal reference range”. It is our experience that women feel much better when all of their hormones are in the optimal range. Sadly, many women have been told their hair problem is not related to their thyroid, when in reality more in-depth testing reveals their true cause of hair loss is indeed hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism or low thyroid output can contribute to changes in hair quality, texture, may cause each strand to thin, and often results in diffuse loss throughout the scalp. It is not normal for hair to simply fall off of your head onto your sweater. Are you picking several hairs off of your clothing daily? If so, or If your ponytail is getting thinner, your hairbrush or drain is filled with more hair than it used to be, then please seek help.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Your Hair
So, what can damage your hair, despite your best efforts? Smoking and sun exposure can weaken your hair. Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t smoke. (And if you do and you want to quit, give our office a call and we can help!)
Protecting your hair from the sun is a bit easier: When you are out in the sun, wear a hat. Another thing that can damage your hair is exposure to free radicals. These are compounds that can damage your hair and make it grey and lifeless. The good news is that antioxidants can fight free radicals. And you can get lots of antioxidants by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Vitamin and Mineral Levels
I also recommend that you focus on eating real, whole foods rich in the nutrients needed for thyroid health, along with taking a very good, therapeutically dosed, pharmacy grade, multivitamin and mineral daily that includes iodine, selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin D, B vitamins, and vitamin A. If you are low in these nutrients, your thyroid can’t adequately produce its hormones, convert T4 to T3, or get T3 into your cells to attach to thyroid receptors, which can cause hypothyroidism symptoms, such as thyroid-related hair loss.
Protein and Fat Consumption
I also encourage you to consume plenty of protein from grass-fed, pasture-raised meat, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, organic fruits, and healthy fats from salmon, olive oil, flax seed, walnuts, coconut and avocados.
I suggest protecting that beautiful head of hair with products that are as natural as possible. And avoiding products with parabens, sulphates, and silicones. Those products can be harmful to both you and the environment.
Are you excited to start on a program for healthy hair? Come into the office to find out more about looking your best. Contact Wise Woman Wellness, and we’ll go over your hormones, lifestyle and beauty product choices. If you follow these tips, your hair should shine!
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP, is a woman’s hormone expert and the owner of Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone care center at 1480 Swan Road, De Pere. Mann is the author of the eBook: A Guide to Gluten and Going Gluten Free. She is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner, one of a handful in Wisconsin and less than 1600 worldwide to achieve this distinction. She combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medicine to help women with female, thyroid and adrenal hormone issues to live healthier, more abundant, joy-filled lives using a blend of compassion, cutting edge science, practical guidance and humor. Contact her at 920-339-5252 or via the Internet at www.wisewomanwellness.com. Attend the introductory seminar, “End Hormone Havoc – Crazy Hormones Cause Fatigue, Weight Gain and Brain Fog and How to Fix Them!”, offered monthly, to learn about specialized thyroid, adrenal and female hormone testing and customized, bioidentical hormone treatments to achieve lifelong optimal hormone balance, increased vitality and longevity.