By Christi­na of The Mane Objec­tive

It’s almost the end of 2012 and every­where you turn, peo­ple are once again draw­ing up laun­dry lists of res­o­lu­tions for the new year. Accord­ing to sta­tis­tics from the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gy, at least 45% of peo­ple make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions. Some of the top ten res­o­lu­tions include los­ing weight, get­ting or stay­ing fit/healthy, and quit­ting smok­ing. Inter­est­ing that many res­o­lu­tions revolve around health, right? With rates for (large­ly) pre­ventable dis­eases on the rise, there is no won­der that folks are hop­ping on the health band­wag­on in record num­bers.

Beyond that, there is an undoubt­ed­ly strong con­nec­tion between our over­all health and the health of our hair. There is only so much that con­di­tion­ers, oils, and oth­er prod­ucts can do when it comes to grow­ing and main­tain­ing our manes. There are five essen­tial areas of our health that we need to get a grip on if we want a healthy body that will grow healthy hair.

1. Reducing Stress

I’m sure one way or anoth­er, you’ve heard that stress can cause pre­ma­ture hair loss. Cer­tain­ly, exter­nal stres­sors can make you want to yank the hairs off your head. But emo­tion­al and phys­i­o­log­i­cal stress can and does cause hair loss for any num­ber of rea­sons. Being depressed or stressed for one day isn’t going to cause major trau­ma per-se, but long-term behav­iors that impact your body’s inter­nal bal­ance is what caus­es hair loss. For exam­ple, if you are going through a bad breakup or job loss, that may spurn you into behav­iors like not eat­ing well, or los­ing sleep. Your emo­tion­al respon­se trig­gers a phys­i­o­log­i­cal imbal­ance, which man­i­fests itself in hair loss. No, you won’t lose hair because you hate your Ex. But los­ing sleep over him long-term may cause your rest­ing hairs to shed pre­ma­ture­ly. Oth­er stres­sors that aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly emo­tion­al but can cause phys­i­o­log­i­cal imbal­ance and hair-loss are: a strict low-calo­rie diet, sev­ere ill­ness or infec­tion, low estro­gen lev­els after child­birth, major surgery, and switch­ing on and off oral con­tra­cep­tives.

2. Getting Enough Sleep

Beyond relax­ation, sleep is a restora­tive, repaira­tive, and reju­ve­nat­ing process for our bod­ies. While we’re in la-la land, our bod­ies are fast at work — repair­ing mus­cles, tis­sues, and send­ing growth hor­mones (HGH) through­out our sys­tem. The same growth hor­mones that are respon­si­ble for repair­ing mus­cles and tis­sues that we use and abuse through­out our busy day, are respon­si­ble for stim­u­lat­ing your hair growth. Although growth hor­mones are released in small dos­es through­out the day, more are released at night. If you are los­ing sleep (or your sleep pat­tern is erratic/disrupted by apnea or oth­er caus­es), you’re hurt­ing your hair’s chances to be stim­u­lat­ed to growth inter­nal­ly. In fact, if you aren’t get­ting prop­er rest, you may notice that your hair is dri­er, more brit­tle, and break­age-prone than nor­mal. So before you switch your seal­ing prod­ucts, check your sleep­ing pat­terns.

3. Exercise

Anoth­er inter­nal growth mech­a­nism is kicked into high gear when you get mov­ing. Heart-pump­ing exer­cise gets your blood cir­cu­lat­ing like none oth­er. When blood is mov­ing through your body, it car­ries nutri­ents and oxy­gen to your scalp — stim­u­lat­ing growth. Sure, you could achieve this by mas­sag­ing your scalp with a good oil. But the hands down best way to stim­u­late the blood flow through­out your body is exer­cise. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar exer­cis­es like run­ning, walk­ing, danc­ing, kick­box­ing, ellip­ti­cal, bik­ing, and more are great ways to get your heart pump­ing. Weight lift­ing and resis­tance train­ing are awe­some as well. Aside from feed­ing your hair, reg­u­lar exer­cise sup­ports weight loss/healthy weight main­te­nance, decreased risk of hyper­ten­sion, dia­betes, and every­thing else under the sun. Do you real­ly need anoth­er rea­son to get mov­ing?

4. Good Nutrition

As it was men­tioned under phys­i­o­log­i­cal stress, super calo­rie-restric­tive diets are one of the trig­gers that can cause hair loss. Typ­i­cal­ly, nutri­tion plans where under 1,000 calo­ries per day are con­sumed place you in the dan­ger zone for hair loss and more (I’m look­ing at you, Mas­ter Cleanse). Sim­ply put, our bod­ies need fuel to func­tion. When our bod­ies are deprived of fuel, func­tions begin to slow or shut down entire­ly. Because we are sur­vival­ists by intel­li­gent design, what­ev­er our bod­ies don’t get in food, we get by break­ing down fat and mus­cle. Don’t start jump­ing for joy think­ing star­va­tion will cause weight loss and keep your body going. Only essen­tial func­tions will con­tin­ue in the state of star­va­tion — and let’s face it: hair growth is not an essen­tial func­tion when com­pared to keep­ing your heart and lungs pump­ing. On the flip side of that coin is our rapid­ly grow­ing over-depen­dence on heav­i­ly processed pseudo and fast foods. As a gen­er­al rule of thumb, the more processed a food is (mean­ing it has less real food ingre­di­ents, and more chem­i­cals and junk that you can’t pro­nounce or don’t read­i­ly have avail­able in your house), the less ben­e­fi­cial it is nutri­tion­al­ly. The con­verse also applies. When less whole food ingre­di­ents are present, our bod­ies are deprived of essen­tial nutri­ents that help us func­tion opti­mal­ly, and con­se­quent­ly, that stim­u­late hair growth. To max­i­mize your health and hair growth, make it a point to include more whole foods into your diet.

5. Moderating Alcohol Consumption

Drank. Shots. Booze. The ele­phant in the room that nobody wants to dis­cuss. I’m not here to crash your par­ty, or encour­age you to pour your mar­gar­i­ta down the drain. How­ev­er with the excep­tion of wine, alco­hol con­sump­tion has lit­tle to no ben­e­fit to the body, except for loos­en­ing inhi­bi­tions and mak­ing us believe we are hav­ing a great time. In mod­er­a­tion, alco­hol con­sump­tion has vir­tu­al­ly no impact on the body. But when done in excess, alco­hol con­sump­tion can lead to weight gain, liv­er dam­age, heart dis­ease, dia­betes, can­cer, and hair loss. Yes, get­ting wast­ed every week­end can cost you your pre­cious mane. Fre­quent or exces­sive alco­hol con­sump­tion can lead to increased estro­gen lev­els (hel­lo, hor­mone imbal­ance) and spur a con­di­tion known as Tel­o­gen efflu­vi­um into high gear. Tel­o­gen efflu­vi­um is a tem­po­rary hair loss con­di­tion that can be curbed when the body’s bal­ance is returned. In addi­tion to the afore­men­tioned con­di­tion, alco­hol con­sump­tion decreas­es the lev­els of impor­tant nutri­ents in the body, such as zinc and iron. Decreased lev­els of zinc result in dry, brit­tle hair that can break eas­i­ly at the roots, while decreased lev­els of iron pre­vent hair fol­li­cles from receiv­ing impor­tant nutri­ents that are need­ed for hair health and growth.

How do your health habits affect your hair?

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and liv­ing in Los Ange­les, Christi­na is BGLH’s res­i­dent tran­si­tion­ing expert and pro­duct junkie. In addi­tion to lov­ing all things hair, she is a fit­ness novice and advo­cate of wear­ing san­dals year-round. For more infor­ma­tion on tran­si­tion­ing, nat­u­ral hair, and her own hair jour­ney, vis­it maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pic­tures fol­low Christi­na on Insta­gram @maneobjective.

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10 Comments on "5 Health and Fitness Habits that Lead to Stronger, Longer Hair"

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whitney
This arti­cle is exact­ly what I need­ed. I’m cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing all of the­se rea­son for hair loss except the alco­hol, because I don’t drink. I had a break up last year that I thought I han­dled well but now that I think about it I didn’t. In fact it’s worse than the first one. Next is sleep­ing. My sleep is com­plete­ly off. I used to exer­cise all the time then when the break up hap­pened I sud­den­ly stopped. And on top of that I don’t exact­ly eat right because I’m always on the go. Yep some things are going to… Read more »
Carla

Yeah, I’ve been bad this week. Stress..check. Alcohol..check. Lack of sleep..check. Excercise…I’ve fal­l­en off a lit­tle since Thanks­giv­ing. Still eat­ing well though how­ev­er.

Work­ing on it :)

Amber

I love that this arti­cle didn’t focus on prod­ucts. Thank you for all the infor­ma­tion and encour­age­ment you give those who what to embrace their nat­u­ral tress­es.

Ana

I believe the nutri­ents in beer are great for hair!! Ever since I start­ed drink­ing beer (dou­ble choco­late cof­fee stout, yum­m­m­mm) and/or wine dai­ly, my hair has been thriv­ing :-)Drink­ing hard liquor is a very rare occa­sion for me. Work­ing on try­ing to make exer­cise a reg­u­lar thing too.

emma87

Good arti­cle and very cor­rect one. This is anoth­er one with good arti­cles.

http://www.wise-living.com/

lulu

I’ve been sleep deprived for years and now that I’m get­ting old­er, I’m real­ly feel­ing the log term effects of my bad habits. Please wish me luck try­ing to get more sleep con­sis­tent­ly, I’ve been try­ing for years and its some­thing that I always fail at. Sleep depri­va­tion is not good at all and as some­one that prac­ticed real­ly good nutri­tion and exer­cised reg­u­lar­ly I can say it pret­ty much nul­li­fies all of their ben­e­fits. Any­way, great post!

E.A.

Girl, I feel your pain, I used to strug­gle with sleep­ing a max­i­mum of 4 hours a night dai­ly even when I thought I was liv­ing a healthy lifestyle. I had that prob­lem since I was a kid, but since I start­ed oil pulling with sesame and now coconut oil, I’ve noticed that my sleep pat­tern has instant­ly changed for the bet­ter! Give that a try, may­be?

Caramelcurls

I can’t stand the taste of alco­hol, so my “drink” of choice is the Welch’s sparkling white grape juice–LOVE it.

I have always been a pro­po­nent of get­ting enough sleep–I aim for at least 7–8 hours a night. I try to exer­cise at least 2 times a week and lim­it sweets until the week­ends. My stress man­age­ment mot­to is “Let go, let God.”

I tran­si­tioned for 10 months and have been nat­u­ral since Sep­tem­ber of last year. My hair is past shoul­der length when stretched all the way out. It’s been work­ing for me! ;)

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty

I’ve not noticed yet but I also don’t drink alco­hol, I sleep like it’s nobody’s busi­ness and I don’t typ­i­cal­ly get stressed so yeah I’m at least 3 for 5!

goyta

real­ly? alco­hol? who knew. but i don’t drink it often enough for it to be an issue.

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