Common Causes of Hair Loss

hair lossBackground: Hair’s Natural Growth Cycle

Hair grows in three different cycles: anagen, catagen, and telogen. About 90% of the hair on the head is in the anagen, or growth phase, which lasts anywhere from 2 to 8 years. The catagen, or transition phase, typically lasts 2 to 3 weeks, during which the hair follicle shrinks. During the telogen cycle, which lasts around 2 to 4 months, the hair rests.

Most people normally shed 50 to 100 hairs a day. This usually doesn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair because new hair is growing in at the same time. Hair loss occurs when this cycle of hair growth and shedding is disrupted or when the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue.

The exact cause of hair loss may not be fully understood, but it is usually related to one or more of the following factors:

  • Genetics (e.g. family history)
  • Hormonal changes or imbalances (e.g. pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills)
  • Medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Stress (including after surgery)
  • Improper nutrition (vitamin and/or mineral deficiency)

Although hair loss may seem like a more prominent problem in men, women are nearly as likely to lose or have thinning hair.

Common Causes of Hair Loss in Women

1. High Cortisol:

Hair loss is often caused by an imbalance in hormone levels. One of the hormones closely connected with hair loss is cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is normally released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress. In its normal function, cortisol regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body including metabolism and immune response. It also has an important role in helping the body respond to stress (i.e. the body’s fight-or-flight response).

However, at sustained high levels, cortisol can be damaging over time. Extended stress leads to extended periods of high cortisol levels. While the adrenal glands are busy making extra cortisol, they make less of the hormones that support healthy hair growth.

2. Low Protein Intake:

Hair loss may occasionally be caused by lack of protein in the diet. When this happens, the body will help save protein by shifting growing hairs into the resting phase. Increased hair shedding can occur two to three months later.

3Elevated Male Hormones:

  • Testosterone: High levels of testosterone has been commonly associated with hair loss. Although women have much lower levels of testosterone than men do, there is enough to potentially cause hair loss, particularly during periods of hormonal change.  However, researchers now believe that it is not only amount of circulating testosterone that leads to hair loss, but more significantly the level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) binding to receptors in scalp follicles.
  • Dihydrotestosterone (DHT): Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle’s oil glands. In high levels, DHT shrinks hair follicles, decreasing hair’s natural growth cycle and ability to replace itself.

4. Thyroid Issues:

Hair loss may be a sign that thyroid hormones are out of balance. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause hair to shed. Because hair growth depends on the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, abnormal levels of thyroid hormones can result in hair changes if left untreated. When the thyroid gland is overactive (hyperthyroidism), the hair on your head can become fine, with thinning hair all over the scalp. When the thyroid gland is underactive (hypothyroidism), there can be hair loss, not just on the scalp, but also anywhere on the body. In most cases, the hair will grow back once the thyroid disorder is treated.

5. Low Progesterone:

From the time menses begins until menopause, levels of estrogen and progesterone in women ebb and flow to promote reproduction. At about age 35 to 40, women reach the time of perimenopause. This is when their levels of progesterone and estrogen begin to reduce. Progesterone helps to counterbalance the negative effects of estrogen. When there is not enough progesterone to counterbalance estrogen, one may begin to have symptoms of estrogen dominance, such as hair loss.

6. Iron Deficiency:

Iron deficiency hair loss is caused when the body lacks enough iron to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of all body cells including the cells that make up hair follicles.

Temporary hair loss such as iron deficiency hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium is an abnormality of the hair growth cycle that causes hair that would normally be in the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle to be prematurely pushed into the telogen (rest) phase, causing hair to shed. Because hair is non-essential, hair growth is one of the first processes to be affected when iron or other nutrient deficiencies occur.

7. Zinc Deficiency:

Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed for many important bodily functions in the body such as building healthy cells, regulating hormones, and aiding in the absorption of other nutrients.

Zinc is available through foods such as beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, and legumes. Zinc deficiency (or hypozincemia) is a nutrient deficiency precipitated by malnutrition or malabsorption of the element. Deficiency may cause weak, brittle nails, diarrhea, slow healing, and hair loss.

Resources:

  • Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hair-loss/basics/definition/con-20027666
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/zinc/background/hrb-20060638
  • You & Your Hormones: http://www.yourhormones.info/Hormones/Cortisol.aspx
  • Today’s Dietician: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/111609p38.shtml
  • WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/hair-loss-causes-women

My Top 10 Weight Loss Tips

  1. Stay hydrated: fill up on water to control your appetite and reduce cravings.

  2. Eat a protein-rich (20+ grams) breakfast within 1 hour of waking up.

  3. Eat every 3-4 hours to help keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent cravings and overeating.

  4. Include some protein and fat with every meal.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  5. Cover at least half your plate with vegetables.

  6. Get at least 7 hours of good quality sleep every night.

  7. Track everything you eat and drink to stay accountable.

  8. Practice relaxation on a daily basis.

  9. Eat the healthiest diet that you can maintain forever & enjoy!

  10. Stop aiming for perfection: aim to eat healthy 80-90% of the time.

How-To: Drink More Water

I hear all kinds of reasons why people don’t drink enough water….from not wanting to spend their day running to the washroom to not liking the taste. We all know there are countless benefits to drinking more water so here are my TOP TIPS for How-To Drink More Water:

  1. First thing in the morning (yes that means before you have coffee) have a large glass of water. If you’re feeling fancy, add some fresh lemon for an added boost for your liver and digestive system.
  2. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go. I never leave home without my Life Factor glass bottle and therefore I never go thirsty.
  3. If water isn’t your thing, dress it up with fresh or frozen fruit, fresh herbs (I love lemon and mint together) or have herbal tea instead.
  4. If you’re forgetful, set a timer that goes off every hour and have a full glass of water when the timer rings.

What are your top tips for drinking more water?

Nutrient Profile: Zinc

36% of men and 40% of women are zinc deficient

What is zinc?

  • It’s the 2nd most abundant essential trace element in the body
  • It’s involved in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, reproduction, behaviour and learning, and thyroid function
  • It’s essential for the production of stomach acid (HCL)
  • It’s required for a proper sense of taste and smell

What are the signs of zinc deficiency?

  • Learning and behaviour issues (hyperactivity, ADHD)
  • Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue)
  • Hormonal imbalances: PMS, decreased thyroid function, low insulin levels
  • Skin concerns (acne, eczema, psoriasis), poor wound healing, white spots under fingernails
  • Low immune system
  • Low sperm count

 How do I know if I have low zinc?

Your Naturopathic Doctor can run 2 simple tests to assess your zinc levels:

  1. Oral Zinc Tally Test
  2. Serum zinc (blood test)

What foods are high in zinc?

  • Oysters
  • Venison
  • Beef
  • Spelt
  • Scallops
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

 

3 Essential Strategies for Aging Gracefully

Look good, feel great!

 

1. Hydrate your skin from the inside out

You’ve heard it a million times….you need to drink more water! Most of us are ready and willing to open our wallets to purchase the latest anti-aging creams and potions but we often neglect to hydrate our skin from the inside out. Drinking an insufficient amount of water will dehydrate your cells including those in the skin making fine lines and wrinkles more visible.

I always get asked “How much water do I need”? It all depends on a variety of factors such as your weight, your activity levels, and your levels of perspiration. I generally suggest that most adults need between eight to ten 8 ounce glasses daily with a couple extra glasses if you’re a coffee drinker or like to have a glass of wine with dinner. If you’re having trouble fitting in all that water, try having 500mL of water with some fresh lemon first thing in the morning.

Another easy way to hydrate your skin from the inside out is to increase your intake of healthy oils and fats. These include raw olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, avocadoes, organic butter, and raw nuts and seeds. Each cell in the body is surrounded by a layer of fat. By including healthy fats in your daily diet you make your cells more fluid and plump thereby improving the appearance of your skin. Want glowing skin? Include at least 2 Tbsp of healthy oils in your daily diet.

2. Boost Your Glutathione Levels

Glutathione is the body’s most powerful antioxidant. It works to help neutralize damaging free radicals and is a key nutrient needed for detoxification.  The good news is that your body makes its own glutathione. The bad news is that toxins for a poor diet, medications, stress, infections, and aging all deplete glutathione. Boosting up your levels is key for aging well. While you can’t get glutathione through your diet or supplements, you can consume glutathione supporting nutrients to help your body make more glutathione. These foods include whey protein isolate (caution if you have a dairy sensitivity), resveratrol found in red wine, and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. Glutathione can also be given through IV to help replenish levels more quickly.

3. Give your face a lift with Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture, sometimes called the “acupuncture facelift” is a safe, effective and natural treatment to reduce the signs of aging and improve the overall appearance of the skin. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture helps to promote a more youthful, glowing appearance by supporting overall health and wellbeing. Its benefits include: reducing the appearance of pores, fine lines, and wrinkles; increasing skin tightness and collagen production; reducing oil production and balancing hormonal skin.

How does it work?

By inserting fine needles into the skin, we create a micro (aka teeny tiny) injury which triggers the healing process in the same way your body heals itself after a cut. Part of the healing process involves increasing blood flow to the area which provides fresh oxygen and healing nutrients.

How many sessions do I need?

Some individuals will notice the appearance of their skin improves after one treatment. However, significant lasting results usually occur after 6 or 8 treatments. A full treatment series includes 12 weekly treatments. The effects can last several years will regular maintenance treatments.

3 Unhealthy Habits Of 30-Something Women That Keep Them Feeling Tired All Day Long!

insomnia
Unhealthy Habit #1: PROTEIN PITFALLS

Most women aren’t eating enough protein, and if they do, they tend to have most of it during their dinner meal. One of the most common nutrition mistakes that I see 30-something women making is skipping out on protein at breakfast and lunch. Think about your usual breakfast….you may have bowl of cereal, some toast or on a really busy day you grab a piece of fruit as you run out the door or even worse- you skip breakfast altogether!

Why is protein so important?

One of the reasons I love protein is that it helps us to feel fuller longer. Protein also helps to control your appetite and reduce food cravings, especially sugar cravings. If you don’t eat enough protein at breakfast and lunch, your blood sugar levels will crash (usually around 2 or 3pm) and you’ll be looking for somewhere to nap after lunch or bee-lining it to your nearest Starbucks for a dose of caffeine and sugar to keep you going. If you’re still not convinced, keep in mind that protein pitfalls can contribute to weight gain and hair loss!

How do I get enough protein?

Most women need about 20 to 30 grams of protein at every meal. What does that look like in terms of real food? Use your hand as a guide: the size of your palm is roughly 20-30 grams of protein. Choose lean and healthy protein sources such as eggs, plain yogurt, chicken, turkey, and fish. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. Include these at every meal and watch how your energy levels will increase.

Read About Unhealthy Habit #2…..

10 Steps to Clean Up your Diet

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1. Ditch Plastics

Plastics (from water bottles and food containers) can contain chemicals that have estrogen-like properties and have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and infertility.

2. Drink Pure, Filtered Water

Unfiltered tap water can contain chlorine, fluoride and other chemical contaminants. Carbon filters (such as Brita) only remove small amounts of chlorine. The gold standard in water filtration is reverse osmosis. Check out EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide.

3. Go Organic

Organic food contains less pesticides and chemicals and isn’t raised using hormones or antibiotics. The most important foods to choose organic are dairy, meat, and the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables.

4. Choose Your Meat Wisely

Whether or not meat is “healthy” is in large part determined by how the meat is raised. Conventionally raised animal meats are often a rich-source of inflammatory omega-6 fats, and may have antibiotic, hormone, and pesticide residues. Choose organic meat whenever possible. Chicken should be free-range or pastured; beef should be “grass-fed” NOT grain-fed.

5. Choose Free-Run Eggs

Free-run eggs contain higher levels of vitamins A, E, B12, and folate and more omega-3 fats than conventional eggs.

6. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

Completely eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Equal, NutraSweet), and sucralose (Splenda). Watch out for hidden sources of artificial sweeteners such as chewing gum, fat-free yogurt, and low-calorie and calorie-free drinks.

7. Limit your Sugar Intake

Your intake of added sugars (excluding fruit) should not exceed 25 grams per day, the equivalent of 6 teaspoons. Start reading labels for sugar content and avoid concentrated sources of sugar such as specialty coffees/beverages, fruit flavoured yogurt, breakfast cereals, fruit juice, energy drinks, sports drinks, and soda.

8. Eliminate Refined Vegetable Oils

Most vegetable oils are refined, processed, and contain large amounts of omega-6 fats which in excess can contribute to inflammation and diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Eliminate all refined vegetable oils: canola, vegetable, soy, peanut, safflower, and sunflower and choose healthy oils such as: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil.

9. Go Wild for Salmon

Most salmon you’ll find at the grocery store is farmed Atlantic salmon. Farmed fish contain more mercury and contaminants and less healthy omega-3 fats. Choose wild Pacific salmon such as Coho, Chinook, and Sockeye.

10.Remove Common Food Allergens

The most common food allergens are: Milk/dairy products, Eggs, Wheat/gluten , Peanuts, Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc), Fish, Soy, and Shellfish. Ask your Naturopathic Doctor to help you identify food allergies (and sensitivities) through an Elimination Diet or Food Sensitivity Testing.

3 Nutrition Tips for Weight Loss

There’s a lot of nutrition advice out there for weight loss. Some of it good, some of it is downright questionable! My approach to weight loss is about making small yet significant changes consistently over time. You may not lose 10 pounds in a week but you’re less likely to have to lose those same 10 pounds over and over again.weight-loss-b

Here are 3 of my  top nutrition tips for weight loss:

1. Choose your calories wisely.

Yes, it’s true that in order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. But the quality of your calories is as important as the quantity! Rather than spending your time counting calories, spend more time choosing foods rich in nutrients to make your calories count. The 3 main sources of calories in your diet are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These 3 types of nutrients all have different impacts in the body in terms of our metabolism, blood sugar levels, hormones and cravings. This brings us to point #2…

2. Eat to Boost Your Metabolism

 One of the simplest ways to rev up your metabolism each day is to eat a protein-rich breakfast within 1-hour of waking. Healthy protein sources include eggs, plain yogurt, lean meats, fish/seafood, beans/legumes, hummus. Once you’ve had breakfast, you want to continue providing fuel for your metabolism but eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours. This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, prevents over-eating at meals, and wards off those late night cravings. You can also try adding foods that help with thyroid gland function (which sets your metabolism) such as seaweed, seafood, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds.

3. Keep blood sugar and insulin under control

There is a key hormone that you must address to lose weight: insulin! Insulin is released whenever your blood sugar levels rise, for example after meals. Insulin takes sugar from your blood and stores any excess as fat. To make things worse, insulin loves our tummy so if you tend to gain weight around your mid-section, insulin is likely involved. Which foods trigger the release of insulin? Carbs and sugar! To help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check:

Looking for guidance and support to help you lose weight naturally?  I can help!

Book your free 15-minute Meet & Greet to learn more about my weight loss program.

 

 

 

SUGAR, is that you?

One of the biggest changes that I’ve made to my diet over the past couple of years is to reduce my sugar intake. Once I started paying attention to how much sugar was in most foods, it was easy to stop eating them!

How much sugar can I have?

The daily recommended intake for added sugars  (i.e. anything other than fruit) is no more than 25 grams per day. That’s the equivalent of about 6 teaspoons.

Tweet: The daily recommended intake for added sugars (i.e. anything other than fruit) is no more than 25 grams per day.

What counts as sugar?

As I mentioned, anything other than fruit counts towards your daily sugar intake. That includes your breakfast cereal, yogurt, fruit juice, and skinny vanilla latte.

Sugar comes in many forms so learn to recognize it. Here’s a list of fancy words that essentially mean “sugar”:

  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice, extract or evaporated
  • Corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, HFCS, glucose
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose-fructose
  • Honey
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Agave nectar/syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose

What about “natural” sugars?

Some sugars are better than others, but at the end of the day, they all count towards your total sugar intake. Some of my favorites are unpasteurized honey, maple syrup, stevia, and coconut sugar. They contain higher levels of nutrients, and generally won’t raise your blood sugar levels as much as some other types of sugar.

Yours in health,

Sarah

Reading Between the Lines: Nutrition Labels Decoded

Confused by nutrition labels?

 Not sure what “maltodextrin” is or what the % daily value means? Nutrition labels are only helpful if you truly know what to look for and become well-versed in nutrition “lingo”. Here’s my go-to guide to decoding nutrition labels so you can quickly decide whether a product is worthy of making it into your shopping basket.

1. First and foremost, look at the serving size!

This tells you how much of the product you get to eat in order to ingest the calories listed below. Food manufacturers are tricky and they often use very small serving sizes to make their products look healthier and lower in calories. One of my favorite examples: Gatorade presents Nutrition Facts for a serving that is ½ the bottle. How many people do you know who drink half a bottle of Gatorade? Always compare the serving size to how much of the food you will actually consume in order to get a more accurate picture of the caloric content.

2. Fat: good or bad?

Most people look at the total fat content of a product , but they never check what type of fat it is. Food labels must provide values for Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat (aka mostly the bad stuff). But you can use that information to figure out how much good fat is in the product.

For example: if there are 9 grams of total fat (of which 2 grams are saturated and 1 gram is trans fat). That means that there are 6 grams of unsaturated fat [9-(2+1)=6]. Using simple math, we discover that a product that looks high in fat may actually be a great source of health unsaturated fats.

3. Sugar

I think this is the most important thing to look for on a label. Most of us consume copious amounts of sugar each day and it’s hidden in all foods (even the ones that look really healthy). Your added sugar intake (not including fruit) should be less than 25 grams per day(or approx. 5-6 tsp). When you start reading labels, you realize very quickly that this is not much! For example, a small container (100g) of yogurt can contain up to 12 grams of sugar (half a day’s worth!).

4. Ingredients

Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight which means that the ingredients that make up the bulk of the product are listed first. My advice: avoid anything that has sugar in the top 3 ingredients (and yes that will eliminate 95% of cereals and granola bars). But beware, food manufacturers have a trick up their sleeve in order to avoid having sugar in the top 3 ingredients….they use up to 5 different types of sugar so that each type only makes up a small % of the ingredients and therefore can be listed further down the list. Avoid this trap by referring back to the Nutrition Facts table to look at the total sugar content.

I hope that helps to simplify the mystery of Nutrition Labels. Happy label reading! Or better yet, focus on eating more foods that don’t come with a nutrition label.

Yours in health,

Sarah