Your hair is a signal of health and vitality. Thick, glossy and naturally glowing hair turns heads and looks amazing. That’s why hair loss can be so traumatic.
Having helped thousands of men overcome male pattern baldness, and being asked repeatedly by women if my techniques and program applied to them, I’ve come up with the 9 biggest causes of hair loss in women and how to overcome them.
I know these will work just as well for you as it does for men. There are a few differences between men and women. These are mainly hormonal. But both male and female pattern baldness can both be reversed. The reason? They are unnatural. Your hair really wants to grow and be beautiful.
After reading every one of these causes you’ll have a much better idea about exactly how to stop your hair loss, so let’s begin
1. Blood Acidity
Blood acidity is one of the biggest causes of hair loss in women and yet it’s surprising that so few people are talking about, given that it’s a fairly well known concept in health circles.
Okay, let me explain if you’re not familiar with the idea of acid and alkaline balance as it relates to health.
Every food we eat, once it has been metabolised by our body, leaves a left over substance. Much like after a fire has burnt through the wood there is an ash left over. This substance is critically important to the body because sometimes it is acidic and sometimes it is alkaline – it depends on the type of food.
pH is a measure of acidity and alkalinity. 1 being very acidic, 14 being very alkaline and 7 being neutral, the pH is pure water. Our body actually has a natural, healthy and normal pH (7.4, so slightly alkaline) and at this pH all of the bodily functions on a cellular level work at optimum efficiency.
The blood, and the vital organs really need to stay at this optimum pH – It is absolutely critical for their correct functioning. Since the blood feeds every cell in our body, the blood is the highest priority to stay at the correct pH of 7.4.
So, when the foods we eat are metabolised, they leave an ‘ash’ that can change the pH of the body. Food types like meat, grains, sugar and dairy are all weighted heavily on the acidic side. So eating these types of foods regularly means that over time the body becomes more and more acidic.
Most plant based foods like vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices and seeds are more alkaline. Eating these overtime cause the body to become slightly alkaline, helping the body reach it’s ideal state of 7.4.
It’s obvious to the casual observer that most people, especially in America and Europe have a diet that is shifted towards the acidic side of the spectrum (more grains, meat and dairy – less fresh vegetables and fruits) and so over time this diet causes the body to become acidic.
The problem is, diseases thrive in acidic bodily conditions, natural enzymes don’t work optimally and normal healthy functions just don’t work as well.
The body will doing everything it can to try and keep the blood, which feeds the vital organs as alkaline as it can under the barrage of acidic foods. Sometimes this can mean storing fats. By storing fat, which is acidic, the body protects itself by moving these acidic store away from the vital organs.
There are many things the body can do to try and protect itself from high blood acidity levels, but for women with hair loss problems, one of these is very important. The body can use the protein molecule called keratin, which the the protein that builds hair to neutralise some of the acidity.
As the keratin gets used up by the body, the hair becomes firstly thin and brittle and lacking gloss and color. Eventually hairs fall out after becoming miniaturised and lacking the protein, minerals and nutrients they need to survive.
One of the reasons women often experience hair loss after menopause is because the priorities of the body have changed. Women can no longer have children after menopause so having beautiful, glossy hair that attracts a mate is not so important.
Because of this priority change the intuitive nature of the body shifts resources away from growing beautiful hair towards protecting itself for the long term. The result is hair loss.
If this all makes sense to you, you’ll probably realise that there is an obvious answer to this problem. Eat more alkaline foods!
This conclusion is absolutely right. Perhaps you know that ‘fruits and vegetables are healthy’ but now you know why. Your goal to protect your hair is to get your body alkalised as quickly as possible.
There is one way to do this that stands out above all else and that is drinking vegetable juice. It’s hard to eat a lot of vegetables, it takes a long time. No one wants to spend hours chewing through 10 carrots and a couple of cucumbers each day, but thankfully you don’t have to.
By removing the fibre you can get around 90-95% of the alkalinity of the vegetable by simply drinking the juice. This makes it much more convenient, since it wouldn’t be that hard to get through a litre of vegetable juice per day (containing around 10 carrots, 2 cucumbers and 2 whole celeries.)
With vegetable juices you can quickly maximise the amount of alkalising vegetables you get into your body and shift your blood back to it’s natural healthy state.
It should go without saying though, that minimising your intake of acidifying foods should also be a priority. This means swapping dairy for almond milk, for example. Swapping meat for beans, seeds and legumes and swapping grains for root vegetables wherever possible.
Shift your body back into a natural alkaline state and you will see and feel your hair becoming thicker and stronger, with more shine and volume from the inside out.
2. Unstable Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar level spikes are one of the biggest causes of hair loss in both men and women, but no only really knows exactly why. The most likely cause is that high blood sugar increases hair follicle sensitivity to DHT, making the hairs more liable to fall out.
One of the first things you should do when trying to stop or reverse hair loss is keep your blood sugar under control. Blood sugar spikes come from eating foods that have a high glycemic index. This means that they are rapdily digested by the body, causing glucose to increase in the blood.
This almost always happens from unnatural, processed foods. There are basically no natural, plant based foods that causes excessive blood sugar spikes. This is because the plants, in their natural form, contain plenty of fibre which slows down digestion and releases the sugars slowly into the bloodstream.
Even if you get everything else right (what you’re learning here) but you still spike your blood sugar with processed foods, hair loss will be hard to stop – this really is that important.
Conversely, if you aim to maintain a stable blood sugar level for a month and wait to see the effect, you’ll probably be convinced enough to continue on with it.
There is a spectrum as well. Some foods dump huge amounts of sugar unforgivingly into the blood. These are typically white carbohydrates that are highly refined and lack any fibre. These simple carbs will wreak havoc with your blood sugar and consequently your hair.
You should aim to lower the glycemic load of your foods in every meal you eat. If you do feel the need to eat something with a high glycemic index then try to accompany that food with a side dish of raw vegetables which will help to slow down the absorption and decrease the overall spike. For example, if you have macaroni and cheese then add a large helping of salad to go along with it.
Avoid at all costs sugary drinks. Read the label before you drink anything in a bottle and if it has more than a few grams of sugar in it, then think of your hair first. Even squeezed fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough fibre in them. If you have a sweet tooth and you’re craving fruit, have a smoothie instead of a juice since the smoothie will also have the natural fibre along with it.
3. Toxin Accumulation & Liver Failure
Toxins are present everywhere and pass through the food chain, as well as entering by other means all the time. The problem arises, however, when they begin to accumulate inside the body. Normally this isn’t a problem, unless toxin exposure is abnormally high, because the toxins are removed by the body’s excretory systems just as fast as they enter.
This is when everything is functioning properly though. If the kidney, liver or colon gets overworked and can’t recover then the toxins start to pile up, much life a traffic jam trying to make it through a bottle neck.
This build up of toxins is quite common for a number of reasons. Firstly most of us don’t look after ourselves particaurly well. We drink and smoke, and even if we don’t do that most of the time we aren’t eating the foods that our body has evolved to eat (plants.)
Meat, dairy, processed foods all impact the digestive system, meaning more toxins get in, and less can get out. Take a processed food like pizza for example. The mixture of refined carbs, dairy from the cheese and perhaps meat as well all mix together in the stomach. This is incredibly hard for our body to digest.
Our natural body is mostly used to dealing with fruits and vegetables, gathered and digested over time. Most of these plants contain their own enzymes and have naturally high amounts of fibre that sweep the colon clean after digestion.
The pizza on the other hand is naturally sticky and stodgy and once it eaten it has a hard time digesting. Different food types actually require different forms of digestive juices so eating lots of different food types together is often a recipe for poor digestion, bloating, constipation and a host of other ailments that can affect the body, and consequently cause toxin build up.
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The point is, this barrage of unnatural nutrient devoid, fibre-less foods coat the wall of the colon making it hard for the body to excrete wastes and secondly absorb nutrients (but that’s another point further down.)
This is why, for any person beginning a program of hair re-growth one of the first things that I recommend is a detox period. During this period, no solid food is consumed. Only fresh, raw vegetables are drunk, which require very little digestion. This helps to sweep the colon clean, allowing the body to release the toxins. I highly recommend reading my extensive article about detox for hair loss here.
As the body finally gets a break from digestion it can now focus on toxin elimination. In the detox method you’ll find that after roughly two days your body will switch modes and start detoxing itself at a rapid rate. Toxins that have been hidden away from the vital organs start pouring into the blood so that they can be removed from the body.
As a consequence, most people feel quite ill during a detox (due to the toxins being released for excretion into the bloodstream.) The feeling has been described like a bad hangover. However, when the detox period is over, you’ll really notice a difference; feeling light, energetic, with a clean mental focus. Plus, one of the other big bonuses of the detox is the body often stops craving unhealthy foods and starts craving living, vibrant and fresh fruits and vegetables. Nothing comes close to punchy blueberry or crunchy red pepper.
Back to your hair…
All these toxins have an ill effect on your hair. The more bodily toxins, the harder it is for the hair to grow. Just think of a grass lawn where the soil is contaminated with waste. It doesn’t make for luscious green grass.
With the toxins eliminated and the liver, kidney and colon clean (and given a nice holiday) they can now start working at their full capacity again, eliminating toxins as fast as they arrive in your body and keeping you and your hair vibrantly healthy.
The side effect of the detox, as you will find, is that your body will also be able to absorb much more of the nutrition from the foods you eat with a clean digestive system. Nutrients and minerals that are essential for strong, glossy hair growth.
4. Bad Bacteria
Bacteria play more of a fundamental role in human health than most people understand. There is a constant balance between good and bad bacteria going on in our guts. And unfortunately, with the amount of preservatives in the food we eat and lack of fibre in our diet, in most people the bad bacteria is winning.
Preservatives, by their very definition, kill bacteria. So how can that be good for the delicate balance of healthy bacteria in your gut when you eat foods full of preservatives? The answer is, it’s not! There are other factors too, that damage the good bacteria, such as overly sterile environments, and over-cooked foods that contain no fibre.
I’ve written a much longer article about how a healthy gut is important for preventing hair loss. The point is, if you have too many bad bacteria in your gut, this could be causing hair loss. At the moment, the mechanism that results in hair loss isn’t clear. It may be something to do with DHT sensitivity, and autoimmune problems. I highly recommend reading the entire article if you’re interested in improving your bacterial balance and restoring your healthy hair.
5. Unbalanced Female Hormones
Your female hormones can shift out of balance because a number of reasons, each of which can be a cause of hair loss in itself. Here are a few steps you can take to minimise female hair loss through hormonal imbalance:
Taking the pill or having an implant
Consider whether you really need to take the pill or have an implant. Either way, you’re filling your body with an unnatural dose of hormones. No one really knows the long term effects of this and how it change your own hormone production over the long term.
For men, one of the first things I recommend doing when they start my hair loss program is stopping drinking tap water. Fluoride in tap water has been linked to hair loss, and there’s also oestrogen too, which I’d rather not have in my body. Yes bottled water isn’t ideal, it also contains chemicals, but, in my experience, it’s better than tap water.
Hormones from animal products
Non-organic meat, poultry and dairy products contains hormones that help the animal grow. These stay within the animal, and, in one form or the other can be passed along to us when we eat them. I’m not saying cut out animal proteins altogether, although if you want to that’s fine, but try to get more of your protein from plant based foods and eat organic wherever possible.
6. Critical Nutrient Deficiencies
Hair is built from nutrients and mineral that come from food and are carried via the blood to the scalp. So it makes sense that quite often, hair loss in women can be caused by critical nutrient and mineral deficiencies that deny the body of the raw building blocks for the hair follicles.
Let’s be clear, hair isn’t essential for our survival. But at the same time, when a woman is ready to reproduce, her hair can represent a signal of fertility to a potential partner (it shows she is healthy and is more likely to bare healthy children) and therefore it is important for genetic survival. Because of this, the body will prioritise hair growth more during the fertile period of a woman’s life.
This doesn’t mean that your hair will suffer after menopause, it just means that you’ll need to be a bit more proactive and conscious regarding your nutrition. The point I’m trying to make is that you need to give your body an abundance of everything it needs to grow your hair to permanently stop any further hair loss and even go on to re-grow your hair.
This can often be more than most people think.
Most processed foods are completely devoid of nutrients and minerals. They contain what are known as ‘macro-nutrients.’ The larger ‘nutrients’ that are basically calories that the body needs for energy, as opposed to ‘micro-nutrients’ which contain the trace minerals and nutrients that are essential for cellular growth and repair.
Nutrition is essentially a ‘zero sum game.’ By this I mean that eating a bagel, you are taking up room that would have otherwise be used for say, a salad. Most people won’t eat the bagel and salad. So more refined foods = less healthy foods. More macro nutrients = less micronutrients.
In heath circles, this is called “You can’t get enough of what you don’t want.” Have you ever opened a bag of potato chips and found it hard to stop eating them? Maybe this is because there are so few real nutrients and minerals in the chips that your body has to keep eating in search of the nutrients. For example, a huge bag of potato chips has about the same micro-nutirnets as a handful of blueberries, so why wouldn’t you eat the whole bag?
The point is that, wherever possible you need to eat micro-nutrients before you eat macro-nutrients. If you’re training for a marathon, or a professional athlete, you’ll need to macro-nutrients as well, but for most of us, a diet based mainly of plant based micro-nutrients is the best diet for strong, healthy hair.
Luckily the are some awesome and easy ways to overcome these nutrient deficiencies.
First up, never go shopping when you’re hungry. You’ll buy total crap. My favourite way to shop healthy is to watch an inspirational YouTube video from one of the healthy bloggers. These videos are super inspiring and can give you a perfect motivational boost before going food shopping.
The best way to increase you intake of densely nutritional foods is through smoothies and juices.
7. Stress & Breathing
Stress can be a big cause of hair loss in women, you may even find that your hair loss coincided with a particularly stressful, emotional or traumatic period in your life. Ask yourself if it did, as this will help you to understand if stress could be one of the causes. Any big change at work or at home can be a cause of stress.
I believe that the biggest reason that stress is often connected to hair loss is because of breathing. During stressful periods we often breathe shallowly and the lungs aren’t used to their full capacity. Ever heard of the expression “holding your breathe” during a tense moment. During stressful periods, we do actually hold our breathe, and overall our breathing is very poor.
This relates to hair loss because breathing determines the amount of oxygen in our blood, and consequently that amount of oxygen that reaches the hair follicles. Stress means less deep breathing, which equals lower oxygenation of the blood which can restrict hair follicles growth. This is also one reason why sedentary lifestyles are often associated with higher incidences of pattern baldness in men and women.
Whatever the mechanism, it may be clear to you that stress is causing you hair loss. Here are a few practical tips to reduce your stress levels.
8. Damaging Shampoos, Hair Dyes, Hairdryers, Hair Straighteners & Hot Showers
Do you take good care of your hair? Here are 5 things that can potentially damage your hair leading to hair loss that are easy to stop doing.
Replace your off-the-shelf shampoo with a specialist, or homemade, chemical-free shampoo. Most of us don’t have to time to look what goes into our shampoos. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a mistake. Big companies know that consumers choose their product mainly by how they smell, secondly by look and texture and so on. Theses chemicals might smell, look, feel and foam great, but they aren’t good for your hair in the long term.
Over a long time, chemical deposits seep into the scalp and can damage the hair follicles. My general rule for hair care – if you wouldn’t eat it, why would you put it in your hair? Eventually it will get into your body anyway. The same goes for moisturisers actually; would you eat your moisturiser. Coconut oil? Yes! Apricot kernel oil? Yes. Nivea? No!
Use natural shampoos that don’t damage your hair over the long term.
Hair dyes are obvious. Dyeing your hair can cause serious damage, making the hair follicles dry and brittle. If you don’t like your natural hair color maybe your hair isn’t as healthy as it could be. Most men are more attracted to beautiful, glossy and healthy hair than anything that has been dyed.
Hair dryers, hair straighteners and hot showers can all cause hair loss because of the unnatural amount of heat they apply to the hairs. Make sure you use a cool hair dryer, and try to avoid using hair straighteners wherever possible. Hot showers can do serious damage to the scalp, removing natural oils that protect the hair follicles, and leaving the scalp dry and flaky. Hot showers can reduce circulation to the scalp resulting in less blood flow to the hair follicles and eventually leading to hair loss.
Do the opposite. Luke warm of even cold showers boost circulation to the scalp, forcing blood to deliver their wonderful oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles. Cold showers reduce inflammation, causing less constriction around the follicle. The cold water also helps the keratin to line up giving your hair a glossy shine. It’s all about looking after the scalp and hair in a natural way.
9. Smoking & Alcohol
After reading how stress can cause hair loss in women because it creates poor breathing and leads to lack of oxygen in the blood, it may be obvious that smoking can make the problem worse. I’ve written an entire article about how smoking can cause hair loss so I would recommend reading that if you’re a smoker.
The take home message is that smoking is certainly often connected with hair loss, it destroys the lungs, reduces oxygen in the blood and and forces thousands of toxic particles into the body. Air pollution has been connected to higher rates of hair loss, so smoking certainly will be too.
I’ve also written a longer article about how drinking alcohol can cause hair loss and you may want to read that too if you drink alcohol regularly. As you learnt in the toxin elimination section, keeping a clean and healthy liver is essential for thick, strong hair, and too much alcohol certainly won’t help that. Alcohol also causes dehydration which can leave the hair follicles dry and brittle making them more likely to fall out.