The new year is rapidly approaching, so you know what that means--gym membership spikes, more crowded lots at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and an onslaught of resolutions to to live a healthier, more positive life.
I'm rooting for ya, I am!
Getting healthy and focusing on a balanced lifestyle will most certainly bring about numerous benefits, especially for your hair. If you've been struggling with dryness, breakage, excessive shedding, or just lackluster tresses in general, it may be time to put the deep conditioner down and take a hard look at what you've been doing (or not doing) to your body, and how it impacts your hair.
So when you're making your new year's resolutions, keep these 5 lifestyle changes in mind, because they'll most certainly put you on the path to a healthy body and healthy hair!
1. Get Active
If you ever needed some extra gym motivation, here it is: regular exercise promotes healthy hair and growth. Between overbearing employers, holiday traffic (well in LA, everyday traffic), deadlines, moving and shaking, stress can be at an all-time this time of the year. Amongst other ailments, stress can cause breakage and hair fall -- with the body's natural release of the hormone cortisol. Increased stress and therefore increased cortisol levels contribute to hair loss. One sure-fire way to eliminate stress and regulate/decrease cortisol levels is through cardiovascular exercise 3 or 4 times a week. Exercise also increases serotonin levels in the brain -- making you more apt to feel upbeat and happy-go-lucky -- and therefore decreasing the release of stress-related hormones that can trigger hair loss. Lastly, exercise improves blood circulation. Good blood circulation is key in transporting vital nutrients that stimulate hair follicles for growth. So while you're getting your body right for Summer, your hair is getting right too!
2. Eat Better
Eat a healthy meal, and you feel like you can conquer the world (or at least run a few laps). Pay a visit to __ [insert your favorite restaurant here], and you probably walk away from the table and right into a food coma. What's good for the body, is good for the hair. Eating healthy provides your hair with the nutrients and building blocks necessary to crank out the healthiest hair possible. While Roscoe's may not make the list, here are some foods that are known to give your hair a fighting chance:
- Salmon: Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and iron, salmon supports scalp health. Healthy scalp = healthy hair.
- Dark Greens: Spinach, broccoli, greens, and others contain vitamins A and C, which are critical for sebum production in your hair follicle. Sebum is an oily substance secreted by the follicles and is regarded as your hair's very own conditioner.
- Beans: Legumes prove themselves to be an awesome source of protein, zinc, biotin and iron, which are all key elements in hair growth.
- Nuts: Walnuts, cashews, pecans, and almonds contain zinc, which is key in preventing hair loss.
- Eggs & Poultry: Protein, protein, protein. Protein is an essential building block for hair.
- Whole Grain: Great sources of zinc, iron, and B vitamins for hair growth.\
- Dairy (low-fat): Calcium isn't just for your bones; it's important for your hair growth too.
3. Stress Less
We briefly touched on the stress-cortisol-hair loss connection a little earlier. Now let's go a bit deeper. Stress can make you quite literally yank the hairs off your head, but there is also an emotional and physiological component to stress and hair health.
Stress or being overwhelmed for one day isn't going to cause all of your hair to fall out. What can, however, is long-term behaviors that impact the body's internal balancing mechanisms. For example, if you are weathering through the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or a bad breakup, you are more likely to engage in behaviors such as not eating well (or at all), or losing sleep.
Your emotional response triggers a physiological imbalance, which manifests itself in hair loss. No, hating your ex won't make your hair fall out. But staying up all night lurking on his Instagram feed, seeing who's pictures he's commenting on, and hovering over the "send" button on iMessage most certainly can, over the long-term.
Other culprits of increased stress that aren't emotional but cause physiological imbalance and hair loss include: severe illness or infection, low estrogen levels after child birth, major surgery, strict low-calorie diets, and switching on and off oral contraceptives.
4. Sleep Tight
You know that "conquer the world" feeling you get after a great workout? Combine that with a great night of sleep and you're unstoppable. Why? Sleep is a restorative, repairative, and rejuvenating process for our bodies. While we're snoring (or is that just me? #TMI), our bodies are in recovery mode -- repairing muscles, tissues, and sending growth hormones (HGH) throughout our system.
The same growth hormones that are responsible for repairing our muscles and tissues are responsible for stimulating our hair growth. Although growth hormones are released in small doses throughout the day, higher concentrations are released at night.
If you are losing sleep (or your sleep pattern is erratic/disrupted by apnea or other causes), you're hurting your hair's chances to be stimulated to growth internally. In fact, if you aren't getting proper rest, you may notice that your hair is drier, more brittle, and breakage-prone than normal. So before you switch your sealing products, check your sleeping patterns.
5. Drink Water
One of the keys to shiny, healthy, and strong hair is drinking water. If your hair is dull, brittle, and prone to breakage, think about this -- how much water do you consume daily? Chances are, with the barrage of beverage options out there, you're not getting enough. Your hair shafts are comprised of about 25% water. Let's do some quick math here... If you're dehydrated (not drinking enough water), you increase your chances of hair breakage by oh... 25%?
I don't know about you, but I can't take those chances. So drink up. Some sources say drink 64 ounces a day (approximately 4 "regular" sized bottles), while others say drink half, or double your body weight.
My advice? Whatever you currently drink, double it every week or so until you reach an amount that is comfortable for you. Your hair, skin, and insides will thank you.
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