In late 2018, I experinced sudden unexplained hair loss for the first time in my life in late 2018. I kept this mostly to myself and a couple of close friends as I felt really anxious and upset. There was a visible patch of thinning hair just above my forehead and felt so distressed that I often avoided seeing people. Looking back, I can see that this sudden hair loss was stress-related. In the space of one year, I relocated to a new country, moved house 5 times, set up my nutrition practice, got engaged and was planning a wedding. The truth is that hair loss is a very common issue and I believe its one that should be talked about much more.
Why does hair loss occur?
Hair loss is common and affects both men and women. It is often not diet-related and the most common cause is hereditary – androgenetic alopecia. I recommend seeing a specialist if you’re concerned who can help diagnose what the underlying issues might be. It is often multi-factorial and requires a considered approach. However, nutrition does play an important role in overall hair health. I’m pleased to say that my locks are back to full health now. These are the nutrients I pay special attention to:
It’s estimated that around 80-85% of your hair is composed of a protein called keratin. Dietary protein is the building block for hair. Plant-based sources that are also rich in other nutrients include oatmeal, quinoa, chickpeas and other legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds.
Lentils are a good source of biotin, a water soluble B vitamin that has been shown to promote hair growth.
Eat dark leafy greens such as kale and beetroot, lentils, watercress and almonds for good amounts of iron. Combine these foods with Vitamin C rich foods at the same time for better iron absorption. So pair kale with red peppers, berries with porridge and lentils with fresh lemon juice.
Healthy Omega-3 Fats
Chia seeds, ground flaxseed, hemp seeds and walnuts are a great source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids which help keep hair strong.
Zinc and Selenium
A whole foods plant-based diet is rich in micronutients but I particularly love zinc-rich pumpkin seeds and I try to eat 1-2 Brazil nuts a day for selenium.
Shampoo/conditioner: I love Daniel Field and Maria Nila Stockholm products. These are both 100% cruelty free, vegan, sulphate and paraben free.
Hair salon: Blue Tit London is my favourite cruelty-free salon. All their drinks and products are vegan and I love relaxing with an oat milk tea when I’m there. I have a trim every 8-10 weeks as I have long, curly hair so it doesn’t require quite as regular trims.