The health of your hair is closely connected to your overall health. Dr Simonè Laubscher reads your tresses like tea leaves.
As a nutritionist, there are many things Dr Laubscher uses to understand the state of your health. Hair is but one… It might indicate you are stressed, have nutritional deficiencies, issues with your thyroid, hormones, iron levels, gut absorption and more.
Your hair is part of your integumentary system, which also includes your skin and nails. This system is not essential to life. If you get stressed or suffer from various deficiencies, your skin, nails and hair will be sacrificed before your cardiac or nervous systems. Your body prioritises the survival functions of your heart and brain so you can survive. Your body will shunt blood to various vital systems, leaving others less nourished. So although your hair might be the most expensive part of your body, it could be said its health is the first to go.
Underlying Conditions for Bad Hair Health
Research shows that changes in the look of your hair texture or thickness can be signs of underlying health conditions. You can tell whether your hair changes are due to a health problem, stress, hormonal imbalances or a nutritional deficiency. If it’s falling out, changing colour or texture, that’s your body asking you to look within.
5 Signs Your Hair Wants You to Improve Your Health
Here are five essential signs to look for in your locks to determine if you have deficiencies or need to get your stress under control.
1. Thinning Hair Can Be a Sign of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones and many experience increased hair shedding and a change in hair appearance. Hypothyroidism can cause thinning hair and other symptoms, such as tiredness, cold intolerance, joint pain, muscle pain, a puffy face, water retention, weight gain, low energy and an overall feeling of flat and a lack of joy in your life.
If you feel you have a thyroid issue, you can have a blood test. Dr Laubscher recommends requesting TSH, T3, T4, Free T3 and Thyroid Antibodies to make sure you’re getting the full picture (all these tests are not always requested by doctors when testing for the thyroid so make sure you list them.)
Increase Trace Minerals
Low thyroid can often be rebalanced with plants. Adding seaweed to your diet can be a considerable health benefit. Further, when you buy organic vegetables, leave a little dirt on them, which will also boost your trace minerals.
Thinning hair triggered by low thyroid can put you at risk for an autoimmune hair-loss condition called alopecia aerate. This type of hair loss causes round patches of sudden hair loss caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles.
Hair shedding can also happen temporarily with sudden changes in oestrogen levels and is often noticed with IVF treatment, after pregnancy and when stopping birth control capsules.
If you feel your female hormonal levels are out, you can take a female panel blood test. Avoiding sugar is also crucial to keep your hormones in balance.
2. Mineral Deficiencies Linked to Hair Loss
Many of my clients have poor health, including falling or dull brittle hair due to mineral deficiencies.
With over-farming, it is easy to experience deficiencies of trace minerals, as mentioned in the first point above. Still, many clients experience significant vitamin and mineral deficiencies despite eating a balanced diet. Once I investigate further, I usually find that clients are trying to eat well, but their food’s nutrient density is low, and their digestive system is letting them down.
Eat the Rainbow
Dr Laubscher suggests eating from the rainbow to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Adding in two portions of good fats each day, such as nuts, seeds and avocados, is also essential, so you nourish your hair from the inside out.
Digestive support is something we all need because we now know that we are what we absorb, not simply that we are what we eat. Chewing your food around 20 times per mouthful is said to improve gut function, but if you suffer from IBS symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, constipation or diarrhoea, then you will also need digestive support.
3. Grey Locks Can Be a Sign of Stress
Sudden shock and stress can cause your hair to go grey prematurely. We all go grey, but premature greyness can occur in your thirties and forties.
Dr Laubscher explains that a study on mice revealed chronic stress is linked to greying hair due to DNA damage and reducing the supply of pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. Stress can also cause your hair to shed.
If you feel under much stress, it would be great to embrace mindfulness and adopt some good habits to support a balanced and joyful lifestyle. Befriend that vagal nerve!
4. Excessive Shedding Could Be a Sign of Anaemia
If you’re suddenly noticing a lot more hair in your hairbrush or on your shower floor, this could be a sign that your body has low iron or anaemia.
With more people choosing to become vegan, anaemia is on the rise. This doesn’t mean you need to go back to eating animals, but you need to be vigilant with your dark green leafy vegetables, dark red foods like beetroot and pomegranates. Some women who have heavy periods can also suffer from low iron and excessive hair loss, so taking an iron supplement can prevent this dip and hair loss every month.
5. Hair Loss is Related to Protein Deficiency
Protein is essential for hair health and growth. Like our vitamins and minerals, many are trying to eat a balanced diet, but their digestive system lets them down.
This is why it is important to choose a good quality organic free-range animal protein, chew your food well and swap out animal protein a few times a week with black beans or lentils. Pumpkin, sunflower and flaxseeds are also highly recommended.
Our founder, Elle Macpherson always encourages our WelleCommunity to listen to the unique language of your body. It’s a quiet, ever-powerful whisper (that often becomes louder over time – particularly when ignored) and understanding it is a lifelong journey. Decoding your hair is the best place to start that journey of understanding.