So, what is homeostasis…especially as it relates to hair growth? Is it nothing more than a continuing saga of alopecia and hair growth combined?
Believe it or not, your hair says so much about your overall health.
Damaged hair indicates harsh treatment or lack of effective and proper hair care. It shows how you may have spent many hours under the sun without any protection. Dry hair is also an indicator that your follicles don’t produce the necessary amount of natural oils that lubricate the shaft to maintain good hair health.
This could be due to a lot of things such as poor nutrition, dehydration and less circulation of the blood. People who go through unusual hair loss are either stressed out or are suffering from alopecia, a known medical condition related to hair loss.
There are many signs of poor health by just looking at someone’s hair, but with highly treated hair, this is difficult to spot because of its apparent sheen and texture. Growing healthy hair is simple. Just make sure to start a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise and yes, the most important of all – proper nutrition.
Yes, hair growth and density are influenced by many factors, such as nutrition and hormones.
However, before we talk about nutrition and why it is so important, it is best to understand that a hair cycle goes through three stages. Our hair is made of a protein called keratin, which is not a living cell but a dead one. It is the root or the follicle that is the live part of the hair.
Each strand of our hair goes through these three stages.
Our hair grows from the follicle or root, which is attached to the scalp. The follicle is the one, which receives the nutrients for the cells in our hair to develop. And, the follicle is also responsible for producing the cells that push the shaft to grow outward.
Again, what is homeostasis when referring to hair growth?
As mentioned there are stages to the process – Anagen, Catagen and Telogen. Lets discuss them one by one below.
- The first stage of the hair cycle is called Anagen. The follicles or the root of the hair undergo rapid cell division that stimulates the growth of the hair shaft. This is the stage when the hair grows up to six years. Up to the age thirty, our hair grows at maximum speed. It will start to decline as we reach the ripe age of 40. Up to 90% of our hair is normally in this phase. In addition, on average, the maximum length of hair growth per year is six inches.
- The second stage is the Catagen. This stage lasts up to three weeks when the hair stops growing and the outer root sheath attaches to the root. About 3% of our hair is on this phase and each of our hair strands will undergo this stage at some point in the life cycle of your hair growth.
- The third stage of the hair cycle is called Telogen. This is the phase when the hair is at rest. This stage lasts about 100 days. About 7% of our hair is on this phase. Hair in the telogen phase sheds, so as to make room for the new hair to grow. This creation and removal cycle of our hair is normal and accounts for how you can properly nurture your hair.
There are factors that cause disruption in the normal cycle of the hair. Biological, environmental and psychological stress can stop the Anagen phase of the hair, which eventually leads to hair loss. Since it is the growing phase that takes most of the life of the hair, it is important to nourish the follicles properly. Why? So they will have enough nutrients necessary to produce healthy hair shafts.
Homeostasis is the ideal balance of the conditions (such as nutrients) that promotes proper functioning of the internal organs or structures of any part of the body, which then will eventually affect the other areas of your body.
Did you know the body has the amazing ability to maintain homeostasis as a survival mechanism?
A classic example of this is when the body preserves the normal temperature for the proper functioning of the organs. When cold, the body will shiver to increase heat and when warm, the body will perspire to cool down. In terms of hair health and hair growth, homeostasis will touch on proper nutrition that encourages the ideal production of natural oils and other nutrients that promote healthy hair.
Homeostasis and hair growth starts with the building block of good hair care.
Hair is made of protein called keratin, so it is the first nutritional requirement necessary for healthy hair growth. Protein keeps our hair strong, and the lack of it will result in weak, brittle and dry hair. Good sources of protein are fish, chicken, dairy products, legumes and nuts.
Iron is an essential mineral for healthy hair. Since the follicle is fed by the blood that nourishes it, lack of iron in the blood results to anemia, which causes shedding of the hair. It is important to have normal iron levels in your body to prevent anemia and consequently hair loss.
To properly absorb iron in the body, it needs vitamin C. It also helps in producing collagen, which is important for the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the hair shaft. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, herring and avocado are necessary fats that hydrate and provide oil in your scalp.
The scalp also needs the oil called sebum to condition the hair shaft naturally. Sebum production in the body needs vitamin A. The lack of sebum results in an itchy scalp and consequently dry hair. Flaky dry scalp is the result of lack of minerals selenium and zinc. These minerals protect your scalp. Good sources of these minerals include eggs and beef.
Vitamin E provides overall protection of your hair by preventing the damaging effects of the sun’s rays to the skin and hair. Biotin is a B-vitamin that helps keep your hair shaft strong. Too little biotin will make the hair brittle, which will eventually result in, you guessed it, hair loss. Wholegrains, egg yolk and liver are good sources of biotin.
Bottom line, when several students at the Nippon Medical School, Tokyo, Japan and Molecular Biology, Yokohama City University did a study on “Hair, Cutaneous Homeostasis and Stem Cell Functions An apico-basal cell polarity protein aPKCλ is essential for the hair follicle cycling and hair follicle stem cell quiescence” they found out the following:
Results indicate that aPKCl (protein) is essential for the hair follicle cycling and hair follicle stem cell quiescence.