Top 10 Healthy Hair Habits That Fight Hair Loss

Healthy Hair Habits Can Reverse BaldnessYou’ve come to the right place if you want to get a jump start on fighting hair loss naturally. Experts agree that choosing healthy hair habits gives you a powerful advantage in slowing hair loss naturally for a lot of people. I’ll break it down across these ten topics:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Stress
  3. Sleep
  4. Shampoo
  5. Smoking
  6. Alcohol
  7. Blood Pressure
  8. Exercise
  9. Topical
  10. Supplement
Hair Is A Card Game

If you’ve spent any time researching cures for hair loss, you quickly discover the cold, hard truth of it: That losing hair is largely out of our control. Where hair is concerned, life deals us three cards  – hormones, environment and genetics. But it’s the genetics card that is the joker, the wild card. Your joker may be merciful, letting you keep your hair for a long time out of respect for your other two cards. On the other hand, you may have been dealt a cruel joker who laughs at your hand and robs your hair at an early age no matter what you do. Yet most of us, sooner or later, will experience either one of the most common forms of hair loss – androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) or FPHL (female pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss).

Consider the statistics. Male pattern baldness can begin as early as the age of 20. At age 50, half of all men experience balding. By the time men reach 60, two-thirds of them will be as bald as a cue ball. Women aren’t immune either. Thirty-eight percent of women experience some degree of female pattern baldness by the age of 70. Women’s vulnerability steeply rises following the onset of menopause.

But There’s Hope

Although this backdrop sounds dismal, we actually have an arsenal of tricks to keep the hair loss joker away for as long as possible. In fact, the younger you start fighting to keep your hair, the greater your chances of keeping it permanently. Regardless though of what age you start, following these top ten healthy hair habits will lay a powerful, and affordable, foundation for ensuring you keep as much of your precious hair for as long as possible.

1. Get Good Nutrition

Every nutrient group contributes in some way to stimulating hair growth directly, reducing scalp inflammation, or balancing the interplay of hormones washing over follicles. In fact, good nutrition is arguably the greatest of the healthy hair habits. Here’s what you need to do:

Fatty Acids

Increase your intake of high quality fatty acids from cold water fish. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are excellent choices. Fatty acids confer important oils to the scalp, keeping it hydrated and hair follicles well fed. They also balance the body’s ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This is critical to reducing inflammation. Inflammation contributes to thin hair.

Whole Foods

Increase your intake of all high quality whole food sources. Shop your local grocery store’s produce aisle. There you can literally find every major nutrient group – Vitamins C, B, D, E, high quality proteins (hair IS protein, after all), selenium, antioxidants like beta-carotene, vital minerals and many more. Read about exactly how each nutrient contributes powerfully to stimulating hair growth in this important blog post.

Avoid Processed Foods

Logically, the converse is also true. Avoid fast foods and processed foods. Processed foods can usually be identified by the way they come packaged. Anything in a bag, box, bottle or carton with a lot of strange ingredients are usually no-no’s. For example, prepared boxed meals, frozen dinners, soft drinks, microwave ready meals, breakfast cereals, canned vegetables and soups, and powdered cheeses are a few foods to avoid.

The act of processing foods uses heat. Heat strips foods of their nutrients and introduces substances the body cannot use. These can contribute to inflammation and hair loss.

Avoid Vitamin Supplements

Stop substituting good nutrition with vitamin supplements. The best way to absorb nutrients your hair needs is through the foods you eat. Foods contain the context vitamins need for the optimal absorption of macro and micro nutrients. Vitamin pills are nutrients taken out of context. They are best used for treating a particular disease process under the direction of a doctor or certified health nutritionist.

It goes almost without saying that what we eat greatly affects our hair health, not to mention our general health. That’s why this one is our first in the list of the healthy hair habits. Therefore, feed your hair using the advice above.

2. Fight Stress

The Mayo Clinic confirms what many already know – stress induces hair loss. The three forms of hair loss most closely correlating with stress include:

Telogen Effluvian

Telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um). You notice large amounts of your hair suddenly start falling out with combing or shampooing hair. A period of high stress usually precedes the hair loss.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania. (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh). Stress and anxiety trigger a compulsive urge to start pulling and plucking hair from your scalp and other areas of your body. Stress can take the form of “uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, tension, loneliness, boredom or frustration.”

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh). Affecting about two percent of Americans, the dead give away for this alopecia is patchy baldness. It is an autoimmune disease in which the white blood cells attack hair follicles, causing them to shrink, weaken, and thin. Stress may make the condition worse.

Avoiding stress could be one of the hardest healthy hair habits to implement. Fortunately, information for how to handle stress abounds online. The trick for you is 1) making a commitment to managing your own stress and 2) finding a good source for how to do it. One good place to start comes from the The Anxiety and Depression Association of America website. There you’ll find a 14 point bulleted list for conquering stress. Following all of these healthy hair habits will help you grow your hair back, but this one can also result in a happier you, too. It’s a great place to start.

3. Get A Good Night’s Sleep

Coming in on the heels of stress…we hardly need the experts to tell us that we need a good night of rest to function physically and mentally. But we do need help in achieving adequate sleep. Sleep disorders affect upward of 60 million of Americans at any given time. As a major contributor to stress, chronic sleep deprivation can result in stress-induced hair loss, like described above. It can even speed up hereditary hair loss. Sleep problems leave no one immune to hair stress.

Talk to a doctor if you are experiencing serious sleep deprivation. In my situation, I used prescription sleeping medication for granting immediate, temporary relief while I sorted out what was happening in my life to cause sleeping problems in the first place. Research and discussion led me through a process of discovery. In the end, I made some lifestyle modifications, nutrients, and Ayurvedic interventions that greatly improved my sleep. Today I do not use sleeping pills and I sleep well.

The National Sleep Foundation  offers a dozen, commonsense healthy sleep tips which may be all you need to start on your journey with winkin’, blinkin’ and nod at night. You may also benefit from this interview featuring Arianna Huffington in Life Extension Magazine. I found it useful.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The same riddle applies to sleep and stress. It’s important therefore to understand what’s coming first in your life to realize important item three in our list of healthy hair habits. Your hair will thank you.

4. Ditch Cheap Shampoo

If you’re worried your hair is thinning, why not pay a few dollars more for a quality shampoo that treats it? Marketed as a medicated shampoo for treating dandruff, studies show that Nizarol also helps to reverse hair loss. It achieves this by acting along a couple of pathways. First, the active ingredient in Nizoral is 1% Ketoconazole. Ketoconazole belongs to a class of compounds referred to as antifungals. Antifungals kill fungal and yeast microbes that infect the scalp. These microbes contribute to the visible sign of inflammation – dandruff – when left untreated. More insidiously though, inflammation results in thin hair. Second, Nizoral blocks DHT from binding to androgen receptors in the scalp. When this happens, DHT cannot choke and weaken the hair follicle which is the hallmark mechanism at work in androgenic alopecia, the main cause of thin hair and baldness in both men and women. The dual action of Nizoral makes it as a must-have part of your healthy hair habits regimen.

Hey Wait! Is Nizoral Natural?

Ok, by now I know what you’re thinking. Ketoconazole is not a natural substance, so why do I recommend it in a blog touting natural hair loss cures? Although not technically a natural substance, as a topical antifungal, Ketoconazole gets a pass because it will not interact with the body’s endocrine system. Your hormones remain undisturbed, unlike what happens when you take common hair prescriptions such as Finasteride and Dutasteride. Compared to these, Ketoconazole is completely safe. The biggest risk is a temporarily itchy scalp which usually only happens when you use it too frequently.

Caffeine for Hair Growth

Products containing Nizoral should not be used every day. Usually, applying it 2-3 times per week is sufficient. In between applications, give your hair another boost with a caffeine shampoo. Yes, caffeine stimulates hair to grow, believe it or not! I review the science behind this in my review of Wash With Joe Invigorating Coffeemint Body Wash, my favorite caffeine infused product.

Two powerful allies in the fight against hair loss can be yours for a nominal increase to your shampoo budget. Nizoral 1% or even 2%, alternating with a quality caffeine shampoo like Wash With Joe, make perfect healthy hair habits in the shampoo department.

5. Stop Smoking

No surprise here. In addition to all of the ill effects of smoking on the human body, is it any wonder hair suffers from exposure too? First, cigarette smoke contains literally thousands of toxic chemicals. As the smoker inhales these chemicals they are picked up by the bloodstream where they travel to all parts of the body, including the hair follicles in the scalp. Once there, the chemicals interfere with the normal growth and function of hair follicles which result in weaker, thinner hair. Second, cigarette smoke and nicotine constrict blood flow to the body’s extremities, including the scalp. This starves the hair follicles of the oxygen and nutrients it’s already competing for in the mix of toxic chemicals being delivered by the circulatory system. Hair needs a rich supply of clean blood to grow and remain strong.

Smoking’s Double Whammy

If you smoke, you should realize you’re giving your hair the one-two punch if you are already experiencing any of the other hair stressors. For example, smokers susceptible to androgenic alopecia will experience a quicker onset. Likewise, smokers who consume a poor diet or have a stressful life heap buckets more anti-hair mojo to their scalps as compared to their nonsmoking counterparts.

Enough said. Smoking is bad, bad for you, and bad for your hair. If you smoke, resolve today to quit.

6. Cut Back on Alcohol

This is an easy one. If you drink a lot, cut back. Alcohol is poison, something we rarely think about in social settings involving drinking. But, bottom line, that’s what it is. As a result, drinking, especially excessive drinking, inflicts harm to the brain, liver, stomach and heart. It’s not really that complicated.

Generally, however, it is a myth to say drinking alcohol results in hair loss. Heavy drinkers have a lot of other problems before they have to start worrying about their hair, for the reasons listed above. On the other hand, drinking may go hand in hand with other unhealthy habits like smoking, stress, lack of sleep and etc., which add to the body’s overall stress load, and by extension, the hair’s. We already know stress can cause hair to fall out.

But alcohol does more than just contribute to stress. It also interacts negatively at a cellular level. In their blog, Dr. Nusbaum and Dr. Rose of the Hair Transplant Institute Miami summarize several problems alcohol presents to hair:

Alcohol Is A Diuretic

It’s a diuretic. This means your body has a tendency to become dehydrated under its influence. Dehydration is not kind to the body and contributes to weakened hair.

Alcohol Strips Minerals

Hair depends on minerals for strong growth like zinc and copper. Alcohol strips these from the body.

Alcohol Decreases Vitamins

Levels of vitamins A, C and B12 decrease. Hair needs these to grow.

Alcohol Raises Estrogen Levels

It increases estrogen levels in men and women. Higher levels of estrogen can result in a hormone imbalance and result in thinning hair. All alcohol contributes to increased estrogen levels, but beer in particular is a cruel offender. It contains something called “hops”, a plant preservative high in phytoestrogens (estrogens that comes from a plant). These transfer directly to the body upon beer consumption. On the website StopDrinkingAlcohol.com, you can find a description of a curious phenomenon: In history, women who handled hops in the production process experienced menstruation at an earlier age than other women. And, what can affect women hormonally will most certainly affect men, and not in a good way. Think man boobs, beer belly and…thinning hair.

If you’re interested in creating an environment in your body for optimizing hair growth, think about cutting back on alcohol. While downing a six pack won’t make your hair fall out the next day, the indirect effects of alcohol over the long term will challenge hair’s optimal growth. If your hair is thin, it’s something to think about.

7. Lower Your Blood Pressure

And while you’re at it, reduce your high cholesterol and risk for a heart attack, too. Yep, there really is a link between the demonic trifecta of Western existence and baldness at the crown, at least for men (Note however recession at the temples and forehead is NOT linked).

Here’s the evidence:

While researchers generally agree there is a link between androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness, and cardiovascular disease, they don’t necessarily know how it works or the reasons for it. All they know is that it seems to be hormonal in origin. Regardless, if you are beginning to experience male pattern baldness, consider it a blessing. You have a likely early indication of impending ill health and time to do something about it.

8. Start Exercising

Exercise increases circulation and nutrients to the scalp and follicles, stimulating hair to grow. Exercise also delivers a host of benefits that indirectly benefit hair as well. For example, it has the potential to move a body toward a healthier weight, improved body fat ratio, reduced blood pressure, lowered stress and balanced blood values – all attributes critical for preventing or reversing hair loss.

Here are some valuable tidbits to keep in mind when it comes to your hair and exercise:

Swimming Pools Can Hurt Hair

Watch out for swimming pools if you’re concerned about your hair. Chlorine may keep the water clean and safe, but it’s havoc to your hair. Chlorine causes hair to dry out and become weak and brittle. Some options you can try: Donning a swim cap, taking breaks from the pool every 30 minutes to rinse your hair out in the shower, and washing your hair with a healthy shampoo after swimming in a pool.

Avoid Over-Exercising

Understand that too much exercise can stress can cause thinning hair. Engaging in an exercise program which forces you to over exert yourself on a regular basis puts your body into a state of stress. And, as we already know, stress can induce hair loss. The trick is moderation

Exercise In Moderation

Mild to moderate aerobic (i.e., cardio) exercises like spin, jazzercise, treadmills, ellipticals or just plan jogging can help reduce DHT. DHT is the main enemy of hair in the scalp, something you want less of up there.

My recommendation to you is to start exercising if you aren’t already. Work with your doctor, health advisor and trainer to pick a program that is designed around your limitations and goals, one that will challenge you enough to deliver all the benefits of exercise without overdoing it. Of the health hair habits here, this is one you will definitely benefit from.

9. Toss Your Topical

For the man or woman battling thinning hair, nothing could be worse than styling with cheap drug store styling gels, waxes, pastes, creams and leave-in conditioners. Many of these products contain only chemical ingredients which are completely foreign to the body and offer no real hair restoring or stimulating benefit, despite what their slick labels may claim. Since your scalp cannot process these ingredients, the goop just sits on your head, blocking your hair follicles and damaging your fragile hair. Livestrong.com offers a helpful list of the most offensive hair styling ingredients to avoid.

Fortunately, the market also carries a lot of natural products that hair loves. You may have to spend a little more, but the benefits are worth it. I recommend you stick with all natural herbal or Ayurvedic styling product that doubles as a hair growth oi. My personal favorite is Brahmi Hair Oil. It is a potent mixture of known hair stimulating and DHT blocking ingredients like coconut oil, Brahmi, Manijistha, Bala, Haritaki, Spanish Saffron and essential oils. It also styles my hair better than any commercial hair styling product on the market.

If you’d rather shop around a bit, Amazon carries hundreds, maybe thousands, of organic hair styling products. But be careful. Some may claim to be organic but still contain unnatural ingredients or no organic ingredients at all. Be sure to read the product description carefully, then check the ingredients label after the product is delivered to you (to make sure it matches the web page description).

A high quality organic styling product will style hair at the same time battle hair loss by reducing DHT, feeding hair nutrients, and soothing the scalp. Chemical hair styling products do none of these. Of the healthy hair habits discussed in this post, this one might be the easiest.

10. Supplement with Ecklonia Cava Extract

You may have heard about Biotin, aka vitamin B7 (see “Breaking Down the Bs” in my blog post about nutrition for hair health). It’s sold as a popular hair pill. Well, we’re going to skip it. According to Medscape, Biotin deficiencies are actually rare. Therefore, you most likely don’t need to worry about taking a Biotin pill if you’re eating wholesome food sources.

I admit, I take a few supplements for my hair. But, if I could only take ONE, it would be Ecklonia Cava Extract. Why? This unique sea botanical is not only amazingly beneficial for hair, skin and nails, it also contributes to health throughout the body. It is one of nature’s most profound antioxidants, eating up damaging free radicals hundreds of times more effectively than, for example, green tea. It lasts longer in the body than other antioxidants. In addition, extensive research confirms that it improves memory, controls cholesterol, improves weight loss, increases growth hormone levels, balances glucose levels, reduces overall inflammation, reduces wrinkles and relieves arthritis.

Ecklonia Cava – Hair’s Miracle Anti-Oxidant!

Ecklonia Cava Extract is amazing for hair because it acts along multiple biological pathways to make sure hair grows. Research shows that it:

  • opposes DHT in the hair cell
  • acts as a natural ar5 inhibitor (the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT)
  • triggers a longer follicle growth phase
  • reduces blood pressure which encourages hair growth
  • raises levels of adiponectin, a lipid protein which encourages hair growth

There are just too many benefits here to ignore, and I haven’t even listed them all! The astute reader may recall I recommended not taking vitamin pills in the section about nutrition in this post. Don’t worry, I’m not being contradictory. You see, Ecklonia Cava is a completely organic and safe whole food item packed into a capsule that your body can absorb normally, like food. That makes this healthy hair habit an easy, pill popping way to get you on the path to success without any of the side effects of conventional hair medications.

Healthy Hair Habits Conclusion

You now have 10 powerful healthy hair habits that will lay the foundation for preventing or reversing your hair loss. Review the sections often and follow the links provided for more information. Most importantly, take action to implement these habits in your life, all 10 of them, and you will experience better hair and health like I have.

Have you found success following these healthy hair habits? What secrets or habits not listed here have worked for you? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Finally, please share this article to Facebook and Twitter if you find it interesting. 🙂

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