Humans lose an average of 50 to 100 hairs a day without noticing. However, due to difficult world events and rampant illnesses, stress-induced hair loss has become a rising concern. A landmark study by Hair Gain found that 75% of UK women had experienced hair loss or thinning, leading to as much as 55% of women feeling less confident in themselves. Moreover, 31% said they felt depressed as a result. Given that 68% of British women said their hair was important for their overall wellbeing and self-esteem, it’s important to address why people experience intense hair loss.
Why Do We Experience Hair Loss?
Chronic stress is a known cause of temporary hair loss (otherwise known as telogen effluvium). When you experience mental pressure, your stress hormone— cortisol— levels rise significantly, inhibiting the function of the hair follicle stem cells responsible for hair regrowth. In addition to stress, people often experience a variety of health problems, such as poor sleep, depression, and anxiety, all of which may contribute to the disruption of your hair growth cycle.
Eating As A Coping Mechanism
Moreover, to cope with stress and anxiety, many people eat foods high in fat and sugar as a coping mechanism. This emotional eating is not only harmful to overall health, but this diet can damage our hair and lead to hair loss. Ingredients like sugar and saturated fats can cause spikes in our insulin and DHT hormones, which are linked to hair follicle sensitivity and hair loss. On the other hand, healthier options like fish may be full of essential proteins and vitamins, but they may contain high levels of toxic mercury, which can cause negative body reactions, including hair loss. To solve these food-related problems, many experts recommend eating in moderation and instead turning to a nutrient-rich diet to reverse the damage and promote hair regrowth.
Some of the vitamins and minerals our body needs to rejuvenate our hair include vitamin A, vitamin C, biotin, and zinc— most of which can be found in plant-based foods. Research has found that, when done right, a vegan diet supplies most of the needed nutrients, making it one good diet-based solution to hair loss.
How Can A Plant-based Diet Help With Hair Health?
With a plant-based diet, you can quickly meet your body’s nutritional needs. Not only do you exclude animal products that can potentially be driving hair loss, but you also increase your consumption of whole foods. Another benefit is that it improves other aspects of your health, such as your weight. Many people turn to a plant-based diet when cooking for weight loss and to improve their overall health. You can use nutrition-heavy foods like non-starchy veggies, fruit, and vegan yoghurt to add bulk and flavour to your meals, allowing you to enjoy your favourite foods while reaching your goals.
In addition to fueling your body, shifting your diet towards more nutritious sources can also reduce your stress levels. A study on dietary patterns found that vegans and vegetarians had decreased risk for depressive symptoms and improved mood. In addition, there was a further 6% decrease in the onset of depressive symptoms for those who ate less ultra-processed ingredients like refined vegetable oils and alcohol, showcasing how food quality is still important to consider, even among vegans. With better mental health, you can become more equipped to face stress and minimise hair loss.
What Do Vegans Eat?
While being vegan improves your overall intake of whole, nutritious foods, it’s still possible that your diet quality suffers from eating processed vegan foods. To properly protect your hair, it’s important to consume foods with the right nutrients and vitamins. What can vegans eat? A huge variety of delicious superfoods! Below are some foods you should include in your diet:
Spinach – rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and iron
Walnuts – high in protein, zinc, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids
Pumpkin – rich in vitamin A
Soya milk, almond milk and oat milk are also fantastic vegan calcium sources.
The stress of life can be overwhelming sometimes and can negatively impact your body and hair health. But by making changes towards a vegan diet, you can work towards boosting your overall function and maintaining your beautiful hair.