August is Hair Loss Awareness Month, and our team of hair scientists and naturopathic doctors are here to help you understand the root causes of hair thinning. This week, we’re busting the myth that genetics hold all a man’s cards when it comes to hair. Here’s how guys can take control of their hair’s destiny.
For some men, dealing with hair thinning feels like a losing battle. Their father has it, their uncles have it, so why should their hair be any different? While your dad’s genes do play a role, they don’t seal your hair’s fate. Experts agree that genetic predisposition isn’t the lone factor in male hair thinning. So while genes hold the potential for certain things to happen to your hair, factors like stress response, environment, diet, and hormones can influence if or when that potential becomes a reality. In other words: You have a lot more control over your hair’s destiny than you thought.
Some of the triggers that can contribute to male hair thinning can be preventable, giving you the opportunity to support how your body handles them through positive habits and supplementing with natural ingredients. Read on to discover five preventable reasons men lose their hair.
We know long-term stress is bad news for our overall health, but did you know it can play a big role in the health of your hair, too? Stimulated by ongoing stressors or significant stressful events, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to an inflammatory response and can cause hair follicles to be pushed prematurely from their growth phase into their resting phase, leading to greater hair thinning. High cortisol levels can also speed up the breakdown of important elements of our skin, like collagen fibers. This puts the dermal environment of the hair follicles in jeopardy, with important skin components degrading by about 40%.
Ashwagandha, an ingredient found in Nutrafol, has been shown to exert an impressive influence on cortisol, balancing cortisol levels and physiological markers of stress. Curcumin has also been shown to increase our resilience to stress and, along with other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and A, has been found to successfully thwart the inflammatory impact of stress. These star ingredients have been included in Nutrafol to help support a healthy stress response to preserve the hair growth cycle.
Male hormones, or androgens, generally get a bad rap when it comes to male hair thinning. But dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the true hormone to pay attention to. DHT, a form of testosterone, has been connected to gradually miniaturizing scalp hair follicles and shortening the time hair follicles spend in their growth phase, leading to baldness. Research has found that sufferers of male hair thinning commonly have increased amounts of 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme responsible for turning testosterone into DHT, so essentially you will make a higher amount of DHT hormone compared to someone with less of the enzyme. We’ve also discovered that an elevated amount of androgen receptors, which act as docking stations for DHT, on areas of balding allow for a greater influence on hair thinning.
This increased influence of DHT is connected to genetics, but don’t fret: In order for DHT to have an impact, 5-alpha reductase needs to first create it from testosterone. Natural substances like saw palmetto, found in Nutrafol, have been shown to have a positive impact on lowering the activity of 5-alpha reductase and helping to stimulate follicle growth.
We’re bombarded by toxins at nearly every step of our day, from the heavy metals in our sushi at lunch to the pollutants in the air we breathe on the way to the restaurant. Despite our most valiant efforts of prevention, exposure to some level of toxins is part of living in the modern world. Even less synthetic aspects of our daily life increase stress in their own way. Environmental stressors, such as UV light from the sun, can cause an increase in damaging oxidative stress in our bodies. Our body needs support to properly handle these toxins and environmental stressors, as they have the potential to increase the intensity of the body’s inflammatory response, impact hormones, and damage hair follicles. Antioxidants in Nutrafol, such as resveratrol, selenium, zinc, and vitamin D, have been shown to help defend us against the damage brought on by these exposures.
4. Poor Nutrition
The phrase “you are what you eat” is especially true when it comes to hair. In order for hair follicles to have the building blocks they need to make healthy hair, you have to deliver proper nutrients through your meals. This first and foremost means getting adequate amounts of high-quality protein, as protein is the main component of our hair strands. Still, proper hair follicle function relies on more than just one macronutrient. High quality fats and carbohydrates are also important to help fuel your hair growth cycle and nourish your body as a whole, which ensures your hair follicles continue to get the green light for growth. Decreasing exposure to toxins that can sneak in through our meal choices is another consideration, so opting for organic foods whenever possible (or, at least, avoiding the worst offenders for heavy pesticide exposure) can go a long way for your hair health.
How well you absorb the nutrients from your meals is another important factor for optimal hair growth. Unfortunately, proper nutrient absorption can be thrown off by something as simple as stress. Absorption also relies on us having the internal support necessary to physically pull all the good stuff from our food. Digestive enzymes, as well as the right population of gut flora, can lend a hand in actively breaking down carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other nutrient-dense compounds.
A big obstacle in a changing metabolism is blood sugar. (Once sugar from food is absorbed into your bloodstream, how does your body handle it?) An issue with blood sugar metabolism can lead to increased inflammatory response, potentially more DHT, and internal stress, which can negatively impact your hair follicles and has been connected to hair thinning (even in younger men). Nutrafol ingredients like curcumin and ashwagandha support a healthy metabolism by promoting a healthy inflammatory response and balancing cortisol.