Will Keto Make My Hair Fall Out?
One of the things you may have heard about a ketogenic diet is that it will cause your hair to fall out. It’s true that some people do experience hair loss to varying degrees on keto. Maybe you’re experiencing this yourself and are feeling a little panicked about it.
Please let me assure you up front that that any hair loss you might experience is only TEMPORARY! I promise, once your body adjusts and begins getting all the nutrients it requires, your hair will grow back and be healthy. But why does this hair loss occur in the first place?
Why Am I Losing Hair?
Hair growth occurs in four stages. The growth period called the anagen phase, a transitional period where growth slows down called the catagen phase, the telogen phase, which is basically a resting period, and finally the exogen phase, where the hair actually falls out. When we are under a lot of stress, including that induced by substantial weight loss, the transitional phase is shorter, so the resting and actual loss of hair happen faster.
Any kind of stress, no matter what the source, causes some amount of hair loss. Losing a lot of weight, as many people do on keto, is definitely a form of stress as far as your body is concerned.
There are multiple factors that can affect how much hair you lose:
~ Eating too few calories, which affects thyroid function. If you’re eating a very low calorie diet, chances are you’re not getting sufficient amounts of essential nutrients from your food.
~ Not enough protein. If you’re not getting enough from your diet, or if you are unable to digest it properly, your body will divert it from some non-essential function to be used in places where it’s needed most. Hair growth is pretty low on the priority list for protein, so this is one of the first places it will be taken from.
~ Not enough stomach acid. This affects the body’s ability to absorb protein and nutrients in general. If you have a low amount of stomach acid, you’ll experience symptoms like heartburn, gas and bloating.
~ High cortisol (the stress hormone) level. Anything you can do to lower stress will have multiple benefits for your health in general, including hair health.
Medications Can Cause Hair Loss Too
Be aware that there is a pretty extensive list of medications for a wide variety of different ailments that include hair loss as one of their side effects. I won’t try to list them all here because the list is very long, but you can (and should!) always check out the potential side effects of any medication you’re taking and discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.
Eat Your Way To Beautiful Hair
Getting sufficient amounts of necessary nutrients is vital to having a healthy head of hair. Here are some of the most important, along with ways to make sure you’re getting plenty of them in your diet:
~ Vitamin A stimulates thyroid function, which is a factor in healthy hair growth. Some good sources of Vitamin A are liver, fish, eggs, butter and leafy greens.
~ Low levels of zinc can also cause thyroid issues. This is especially common in people who avoid animal products, as with a vegetarian or vegan diet. Good sources of zinc are shellfish (wild caught, never farm-raised) and red meats.
~ Vitamin B deficiencies contribute to hair loss. Nutritional yeast is one excellent source for B vitamins.
~ Biotin is very important for healthy hair. Besides hair loss, a deficiency can cause brittle nails, loss of hair color, muscle pain, fatigue, and skin rashes. Some good food sources of biotin are cooked eggs, liver, red meat, almonds, onions, tomatoes, salmon, nuts and seeds (especially walnuts and pecans), cauliflower and romaine lettuce.
~ Improve stomach acid level, which will boost nutrient absorption, by adding apple cider vinegar to your diet – it makes a great salad dressing!
Taking probiotics and/or eating fermented vegetables such as unpasteurized sauerkraut will help to optimize the health of your digestive system.
Good Things Come … And They’re Worth The Wait
There are so many changes going on in our bodies when we are following a keto way of eating! Healing, rebuilding, strengthening, rejuvenating and getting rid of all the “old” that doesn’t work and isn’t needed anymore! We didn’t get to where we started on this journey overnight, and we’re not going to fix it overnight either.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, and this even applies to our hair. But get better they will, and if you keep supplying your body with the nutrition it needs, you will see new, healthy hair growth along with the many other benefits of adopting the keto lifestyle.
As the saying goes, don’t give up before the miracle happens! Keto on, my friends, and make it a wonderful week!