Nutrition plays a vital role in our hair and overall health and while we can address and treat certain hair and scalp conditions from the outside, it is important to remember that health starts from within. It is not only enough to consider what we are putting on our hair to promote its health, but also what we are putting in our bodies.
To delve deeper into the intricate relationship between nutrition and hair health, we sat down with renowned nutritional expert Ruben Tabares. However, we didn't stop there. In a unique approach to gain a comprehensive understanding, we also included insights from a trichological point of view. By combining the expertise of a nutritional expert and a trichologist, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the intricate relationship between nutrition and healthy hair.
1. Crash diets refer to extremely restrictive and low-calorie eating plans that promise rapid weight loss within a short period. These diets often involve severe calorie restriction, eliminating entire food groups, or drastically reducing food intake. The primary goal of crash diets is to achieve quick weight loss, typically within a few weeks or even days. From a scientific perspective - why are crash diets bad?
Reuben (Nutritionist): "Crash diets are bad because they limit your access to nutrients. They also place undue stress on the body which in turn limits processes that the body deems to be secondary to survival, hair growth being one of them."
Samantha (Trichologist): "A common hair-fall condition that we see in clinics is Telogen effluvium, this can be triggered by crash dieting. The hair cell is the second fastest dividing cell in the body but is not an essential cell so any shortage of nutrients can affect the hair and cause excessive hair shedding."
2. We know that nutrition plays a vital role in hair and overall health and having a balanced diet- as in the variety of foods we eat- matters. But which are the most important nutrients for promoting overall health?
Reuben: "A balanced intake of nutrients is essential, but take care to make sure that certain nutrients that are limited in our modern diets are included; Omega 3 fats, all the B-vitamins, vitamin C and adequate protein. Include foods that promote circulation such as pomegranates, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper."
Samantha: "The most important nutrients for hair are very similar to what is needed by the body. Other essential vitamins and minerals to support healthy hair growth are Vitamin D which helps support the immune system. This is often found to be low in patients suffering from autoimmune hair loss and scalp conditions. Other nutrients that are important are iron, which provides oxygen to the hair follicles and vitamin c which aids the absorption of iron and can help protect the body and the hair follicle from free radical damage."
3. What are the most common deficiencies you see in your practice?
Reuben: "The most common deficiencies are water and essential fats."
Samantha: "The most common deficiencies I see with my patients are low serum ferritin and Vitamin D. Both of these deficiencies can cause or exacerbate hair loss."
4. There are many nutritional myths out there, but we focused on the biggest one that seems to be circulating a lot on different platforms namely that calories don't count. What do you say to that myth?
Reuben: "Yes they do. If you're not getting enough you will certainly lose weight but cutting too much will negatively influence your health. Too much and no matter what diet plan you're on, you'll find it difficult to lose weight. Balance is the key."
Samantha: "A sufficient calorie intake supports the cellular turnover of the hair. Remember we don’t need the hair to survive, so it will lose out if the body's nutritional intakes become’ s imbalanced. A poor diet can directly affect the quality of the growing hair."
Ruben Tabares is a highly sought after Strength & Conditioning Coach, Nutritionist & Sports Therapist. He has been a trainer to former Cruiserweight and Heavy Weight World Champion David Haye, Welterweight World Champion Amir Khan, World and European 200m Champion Dina Asher Smith, England and Chelsea Captain John Terry, performer Sean "P Diddy" Coombes, Tinie Tempah, Dynamo (the magician), actors Mickey Rourke, Jeremy Piven, Kate Upton and Naomi Watts and many others.
Samantha Stewart MIT
Samantha is a qualified Trichology Consultant and has worked at The Spencer Clinic for 30 years. She qualified with Distinction from the prestigious Institute of Trichologists and was awarded the John Firmage award for distinction. In addition to her work at The Spencer Clinic, Samantha serves on the board of the Institute of Trichologists where she also teaches the next generation of trichologists. Samantha co-founded CURLiD in 2022 along with Rachel Marcelin and Jasmine Kerley.