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Healthy Hair, Important Lab Markers, & Tips for Hair Growth

Having healthy hair is something we all want as women. Thick, soft, yet strong hair is obviously ideal, but it can often go through bouts of the opposite- increased shedding or thinning, coarse, and brittle.

The most terrifying, but the common concern I hear on a daily basis is hair falling out in clumps aside from normal shedding (because shedding is natural) and thinning.

So in this post, I'm going to cover:

Common Causes for Unhealthy Hair

Poor intake of Nutrients

This relates mostly to diet and the actual variety of nutrients you are consuming on a daily basis. We tend to eat the same meals and foods every week with little variation, which is why the right supplements are important to help fill those nutrient gaps that we all have.

With that said, it's also good to be mindful that the food we're eating is not also robbing us of nutrients such as foods high in sugar, inflammatory soils, and processed foods.

We will review foods that are great for hair health below.

Poor Absorption of Nutrients

When we are able to narrow down what serves our body, we then have to look at our absorption. This begins in the gut and the gut is the epicenter of health. It feeds all aspects of our health including our liver (our major detoxification center), our brain, and important organs like our thyroid depend on our gut to digest, absorb, and deliver nutrients so we can feel our best.

For our hair, important Nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin C (needed to absorb iron), biotin, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, B Vitamins, and collagen are the main ones we need for healthy tresses.

Hormonal Imbalances

Truth is, we are all walking around with some form of hormone imbalance. But, most of this imbalance begins with a blood sugar imbalance due to busy schedules and not the best nutrition. This sends the rest of our hormones into "survival" mode. If this pattern is continued long enough, important Nutrients and minerals are depleted which contributes to a less healthy scalp and hair strands. This also leads to a bout of chronic inflammation.

The most common hormone imbalances that contribute to hair are thyroid imbalances, testosterone, DHEA, estrogen, and progesterone.

Scalp conditions

The most common scalp conditions that I encounter are dry scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema, which leads to dandruff and flakiness. Secondly, is alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition.

These are often accompanied by inflammation in the gut, an imbalance of gut bacteria causing inflammation (IBS, IBD) food sensitivities, and deficiencies in B vitamins and essential fatty acids.

Heavy Metals and Medications

Lab Markers to Look For

Thyroid Panel (TSH, T4, T3 Uptake, Free Thyroxine Index, Free T3, Antibodies) This will give insight into hair falling out in chunks, thinning in the front area, and autoimmune involvement with dry/flaky scalp.

Iron Panel (Iron, Iron Saturation, Ferritin)- This, specifically Ferritin, will give insight into excess shedding. Keep in mind that Iron is absorbed in the gut, so taking an iron supplement is typically not the solution. It's best to work with a practitioner on this.

Complete Blood Count

This will give insights into any anemia, the health of your red blood cells, infections, and any nutrient deficiencies contributing to hair health. This coupled with a stellar health history and symptom survey can provide so much detail.

Hormone Panel

Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, Dihydroxytestosterone, Cortisol, and DHEA. Keeping in mind that hair loss can also occur due to hormone fluctuations, especially with autoimmune and menopause. Progesterone is beneficial to always keep in balance as it could improve hair loss.

Steps to Luscious Hair

Work with a practitioner like myself or a nutritionist that can help identify nutrient deficiencies, why they're present, and give you a plan on how to fix it. A great way to start is by establishing strong foundations and reducing inflammatory foods. I lay out all the details for that in my E-book "Rooted in Foundations".

  1. Eat a nutrient-dense diet, but pair it with a digestive enzyme to make sure you're properly breaking down the nutrients that your hair needs to thrive. Our naturally occurring digestive enzymes are constantly depleted by stress, so we can all use a little help there. My favorite ones are by Solluna and also MRM Digest All.

  2. Choose hair products without any harsh chemicals or toxins. The idea is that your hair products should not only clean, but moisturize, and give your hair nutrients and stability. A few of my favorite clean brands are JS Health, Mielle Organics, and AuntJackie's.

  3. Drink plenty of water to help distribute nutrients, and move out toxins that cause inflammation. Other important nutrients for hair health are healthy fats (like olive oil, avocado, and flax), B vitamin complex, antioxidants found in berries and vitamin C, Glucosamine and MSM, and Vitamin E (nuts and seeds).

  4. Stimulate your scalp with a scalp massage and be gentle with your hair. Look for hair products without mineral oil or sulfates.

  5. Avoid processed foods as they deplete the body of nutrients and increase inflammation.

  6. Stress Reduction. In the clinic, there is a daily conversation about stress with my clients and it is important to find your outlets so all of your healthy efforts won't be in vain.

Take this one day at a time to minimize stress and recognize that hair growth can definitely take time. Find a cute and protective hairstyle to wear while on your hair journey.

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