Poor diets can lead to faster greying, especially if you’re deficient in key nutrients like B12 and Folic Acid
Grey hair, food … uh? Bet you didn’t know that your diet could be causing grey hair? Are you anxious that some of the foods you eat may not be good for scalp health? From a scientific standpoint, the issue can be complicated. Grey hair is a fact of life, and only a lucky few can avoid it completely. But the age of onset can be unpredictable; some people get the first traces of grey above their temples as late as their 40s or 50s, while others have a complete head of grey hair before they hit 30. Genetics are undoubtedly a factor, which would explain why grey hair can seem so random, but research has shown that what you eat can also play an important role in determining when you get grey hair.
Why do we get grey hair?
At the root of each hair is a follicle that releases a chemical known as melanin, which is what gives our hair its color. An abundance of melanin tends to make hair darker, while a relatively small amount of melanin creates lighter shades. As a natural part of aging, the pigment cells that produce melanin eventually stop functioning. The process starts with just a few strands and may be barely noticeable, but after a few years the cell death usually begins to spread evenly throughout the scalp, leading to a mixture of grey hair with darker ones.
As for what causes the pigment cells to die, it’s mainly a matter of cell death and free radical damage causing grey hair. Also, Genetic: predisposition plays a large role in determining the lifespan of our hair pigment stem cells, but there’s no doubt that treating the hair well, having a healthy lifestyle, and eating a healthy diet can slow the process significantly. All cells in the body need nutrients in order to do their work, and if the cells in your scalp don’t get everything they need to thrive, they will be more likely to give up and stop functioning earlier in life leading to the early onset of grey hair.
If having an early onset of grey hair runs in your family, you’re not necessarily doomed to early greying yourself. Genetic traits can skip generations. Plus, research has shown that through healthy practices and good nutrition, you can delay the onset of grey hair by a few years at least. The cell death that leads to grey hair can’t be stopped entirely, but healthy cells are more likely to hold out longer.
Meanwhile, eating an unhealthy diet doesn’t just prevent you from getting the nutrition you need; it also potentially introduces toxins and free radicals that can accelerate the greying process. So, in the end, one of the best thing you can do for your grey hair is to cut out junk food and make sure you get the full range of vitamins and nutrients.
Elements of an anti-greying diet
To keep your hair cells working properly, it’s crucial to consume vitamins that slow the aging of cells. All cells naturally break down over time, and this is what causes the physical effects of aging (including wrinkling of the skin and hair loss) as well as the internal wear and tear that increasingly afflicts the body as we get older. While this process is inevitable, there are some vitamins and nutrients that help keep the cells running smoothly.
Most important, antioxidants clear the cells of free radicals, tiny particles that bounce around inside the cells and are among the primary culprits of all types of cell damage. Antioxidants are found in a wide variety of foods, especially in fruits and vegetables, green tea, coffee, chocolate, and red wine. There are antioxidant supplements, but the best sources are fresh foods and beverages.
Meanwhile, it’s important to make sure the circulatory system is working as smoothly as possible so that the hair cells get all the oxygen and nutrients they need. This means regulating blood pressure, keeping a steady level of blood sugar, and getting plenty of iron. It also helps to exercise regularly so that your heart runs strongly, which boosts blood-flow to the scalp.
Other important vitamins and nutrients for minimizing grey hair include:
- plenty of complete proteins, the building blocks of new hair growth;
- biotin, also known as vitamin B7, which encourages cell renewal;
- healthy fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, which strengthen the cell walls and prevent the type of deterioration that can lead to greying;
- zinc, which aids in the absorption of other minerals beneficial to the hair; and
- vitamins C and E, both of which improve circulation to the scalp.
Of course if you are reading this article because you are experiencing grey hair, please remember we can help reverse greying.
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