Step 1 – Wholesome Nutrition for Alopecia Recovery
Healthy hair growth and Alopecia recovery do not only involve a few basic nutrients. Instead, Alopecia recovery is a complex and lengthy process that requires our entire body and immune system to be in a well nourished and great state of health in order for it to function correctly and to stop attacking our hair follicles by mistake.
With Alopecia Areata, there is no issue with our body’s hair growth process or its natural hair growth-loss cycle. Instead, the issue lies in a malfunctioning immune system. Consuming wholesome nutrition from a wide variety of plant foods that are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, and micronutrients every single day helps us nourish and build our immune system over time, along with good lifestyle choices such as sleep, exercise, and relaxation.
To get the most nutritional benefits, we must consume foods in their wholesome form. Therefore, any form of hair growth vitamins or hair growth supplements don’t work and don’t deliver the same benefits as they mostly only contain nutrients in their isolated forms.
Basic nutrients for survival
The six primary macro and micro nutrients that we need for survival include:
- fuel our body, including our central nervous system and brain.
- comes in three types: simple carbohydrate, complex carbohydrate, and fibre.
- the building blocks of the body including every cell, bone, skin, hair, muscle, as well as hormones, antibodies and other important substances.
- is made of different amino acids — non-essential amino acids can be created by our body, and essential amino acids can only come from food.
- good sources of essential amino acids include meat, fish, eggs, and plant foods such as beans, soy, nuts, and some grains.
- supports many bodily functions such as cell building, muscle movement, vitamin and mineral absorption.
- healthy fats can help balance our blood sugar and improve brain function.
- unsaturated fats provide essential fatty acids that our body cannot make.
- there are 13 essential vitamins, each playing an important role in the body.
- best way to ensure sufficient intake of different vitamins is by eating a varied diet of vegetables and fruit.
- vitamin D is an essential vitamin that most people can’t get adequate intake of from foods alone, therefore supplementation may be necessary.
- essential for many bodily functions.
- examples include calcium iron, zinc, and many others.
- is crucial for every system in our body and it makes up more than half of our total body weight.
- improves brain function, mood, acts as a lubricant in the body, helps flush out waste, carries nutrients to cells, and prevents constipation.
Getting all the adequate nutrients through everyday diet is important for everyone in order to maintain optimal health in general. But it is even more essential if you want to work on supporting your body toward autoimmune and Alopecia recovery.
Nutrients for building the immune system and Alopecia recovery
Today, when we talk about nutrition, we still focus on basic, essential nutrients for survival. However, most of today’s population is not lacking in these basic nutrients.
Basic nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates are very important. However, these basic nutrients are already present, sometimes in abundance, in today’s modern diet. A lack of these basic nutrients is NOT the cause most of today’s illnesses.
We do, however, need to pay more attention to the three (3) main groups of compounds that greatly contribute to our immune system.
1. Phytochemicals (or phytonutrients)
In plants, phytochemicals or phytonutrients work to protect the plants from external damages, such as UV damage from the sun.
Each type of phytochemical has been shown to have very specific function in inhibiting the growth of different stages of tumour and cancer.
The development of cancer in our body is affected by many factors, including hormones, pollutants in the air, and environmental toxins. A single plant food contains multiple phytochemicals, each working to inhibit the growth of cancer cells at various stages during their development.
Take for example a meal where we consume some smoked meat or bacon. When this processed meat gets into our stomach, nitric acid and amine react to form a cancer-causing carcinogen called nitrosamine. And then, during this same meal, we eat some fruit for dessert instead of, say, ice cream. Fruit contains phytochemicals that are able to break down the carcinogens formed by the processed meat earlier, and eliminate their cancer-causing potential from our body.
Therefore, always make sure to include various vegetables and fruit along with a meal, especially when you are consuming rather large amount of meat during that meal. The phytonutrients in these fruit and vegetables can break down the carcinogens formed by the animal foods you just consume, as well as clear them out of your system.
In conclusion, phytonutrients are critical in our daily diet as they greatly contribute to lowering or eliminating risks of developing chronic illnesses such as cancer.
Antioxidants have an indirect impact on our immune system. They work by slowing down the aging process.
Some 40 year olds can have the immune system of a 30 year old. Likewise, some 50 year olds may have the immune cells of a 60 year old. The ‘older’ our immune cells are, the more vulnerable we become to diseases. Therefore, it is extremely important to slow down the aging process.
Antioxidants are a must-have in our daily diet. They are present in high amounts in some fruit and vegetables, especially foods like:
- Grape seeds: they contain a powerful antioxidant called OPC, which is 50 times stronger than vitamin C or vitamin E.
- Rose: it contains 50 times more antioxidant vitamin C than lemon. At this amount, it greatly aids our body’s ability to produce collagen that prevents wrinkles on the skin.
Polysaccharides have a direct impact on our immune system.
Unlike phytochemicals and antioxidants that are only found in plant foods, polysaccharides can also be found in animal foods. However, the largest amount of polysaccharides is found in mushrooms, for example shiitake mushrooms, Brazilian mushrooms, ganoderma or reishi (lingzhi).
Each of these mushrooms have different types of polysaccharides. And each type of polysaccharides plays a different role in stimulating and balancing the different functions of our complex immune system.
The best way to get adequate nutrients for Alopecia recovery
Eating a widely varied diet of whole foods is the best way to get all these nutrients. However, with the realities of modern life, sometimes it is harder than it sounds. There may be days when things get simply get ahead of us — work, life, parenthood, what have you.
Having to let things slide for a day or two isn’t a big deal in general, but when we’re working hard to resolve something as tricky as alopecia, we want to make sure we equip our body with all the ammunition it needs, every single day.
Read more about how to eat healthy as your first step in alopecia recovery on my other post here.
Why hair growth vitamins don’t help with Alopecia recovery
When we are otherwise healthy and mostly eat a balanced diet, we usually do not need supplements. And unless your alopecia is caused by a lack of particular nutrients, supplements most likely will not improve the condition. A blood test would easily reveal if you are lacking any particular nutrients, but for most people, this is NOT the cause of their alopecia. Instead, it is caused by autoimmunity, i.e. their own immune system attacking their hair by mistake.
With growing awareness that plant biochemicals bring a host of benefits for our health, there are more and more supplement pills appearing in the market. These usually come in the form of isolated nutrients, for example vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B complex, biotin, and so on. Supplements in this form are refined, concentrated, and often synthetic (man-made). You can easily tell if it is synthetic by checking the ingredients list.
The only exception to supplementation of basic vitamin would be Vitamin D especially when sun exposure is limited.
Read my other post in detail here about why vitamin pills don’t help with alopecia recovery (and what to eat instead).
Whole foods nutrition support for Alopecia recovery
Whole plant foods contain hundreds and thousands of antioxidants and phytochemicals. When these substances are isolated and put into a pill, for example vitamin A, research shows that it doesn’t work effectively and can even be dangerous in high amounts. This is because the additional phytochemicals in whole plant foods work in conjunction with the antioxidants they also contain in order to provide the environment for these antioxidants to work effectively.
It is therefore important to choose only whole foods products when you choose to supplement your already healthy and balanced diet. Read the ingredients list and it should contain names you recognise and understand.
In our journey, we use a number of Nutritional Immunology products to help ensure we enough of all the beneficial wholesome plant foods nutrition in supporting Little Claire’s alopecia recovery every single day.
Suz at Natural Alopecia Wellness
All information on this website is meant for informational purposes only. It contains my own personal opinions and interpretation of acquired information. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and information on this website are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.