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Organic Food and Your Hair

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                                                                  Image by Thankgodimnatural.com


There has been many talks, writings, books, workshops, etc. about organic, organic food and organic farming. There has been even more discussions with respect to healthy living, and eating nutritious food. And as consumers demand more of everything, there is an increase need for information on various topics.

It is no secret that there is a healthy food movement going on locally, nationally and internationally. This is driven by consumers. As this movement grows, it is important you educate yourself so you are not tricked into believing things that are untrue. So we at Cariporter Organic are doing the best we can to provide you with factual, practical and relevant information.

There is no doubt that organic is the way to go for food, health and the protection of the environment.

So what is organic?


Local

According to the book - Why Organic Farming Is Great For Canada by Leroy A. Brown, “Organic is a process within which crops are grown, animals are reared, food and beverages are manufactured using non-conventional methods, such as not using synthesized herbicides and pesticides for weeds and crops; not using genetically modified (GM) seeds; and not using growth hormones in animals, just to highlight a few. It involves the use of compost and worm castings as fertilizers; it is planting legumes to help return nutrients back to the soil; it is crop rotating and intercropping; it is growing animals like cows on grass, organic alfalfa and organic grain as food, and allowing them to grow and develop as nature intended for them, and so on.

Therefore, organic farming is doing agriculture in such a way that it protects the environment, and makes humans, plants and animals healthier.

In order to let the general public know that a product is indeed organic, if word of mouth and/or touring the farm/food operation is not sufficient, the producer will have his/her establishment assessed by an authorized certifier, before organic designation is given. This certification allows the farmer to sell not just locally, but nationally and globally.

Organic farming is more about wholesomeness rather than financial gains. And if done properly, it will result in a lot of money being earned, like what is being experienced by many of the stakeholders (such as farmers, distributors and retailers). However, if the aim is solely to make money, and to do so at any cost like in many large conventional food operations, then there will be far more losses than gains”.


National

The Canadian Organic Growers (COG) goes on to define organic as “… the only type of agriculture with a set of principles that puts nature first. These principles are enshrined in industry-developed standards approved by consumers and verified annually by third-party organizations. As of 2009, federal organic standards are now backed by government regulation and oversight.

Organic standards are based on seven general principles:

  1. Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, decrease pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a sound state of health.
  2. Maintain long-term soil fertility by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.
  3. Maintain biological diversity within the system.
  4. Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the enterprise.
  5. Provide attentive care that promotes the health and meets the behavioural needs of livestock.
  6. Prepare organic products, emphasizing careful processing, and handling methods in order to maintain the organic integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production.
  7. Rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.


International

Internationally, organic can be defined as “… a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.”[1]


Food and good health

Food is the fundamental element for good health. Without the right food (i.e. a balanced diet) all other ways of trying to be healthy is almost futile. To make it worse, consuming chemical sprayed food helps to inhibit your progress towards being well and active. But most certainly, eating organic food is a great start and a better way to maintain your health.

Your hair


                                       Image by www.infovisual.info


One area that many overlook as it relates to being healthy is your hair. It has never really been linked to our well-being as much as other things such as our surroundings. But as you may already know, everything is interconnected on the body. So it is not astonishing that being healthy or not will affect our hair.

For many individuals, our concerns with respect to our hair is not to lose it.

“Hair is much more complicated than it appears. It helps transmit sensory information. It acts as a barrier to foreign particles. It's an important part of appearance and creates gender identity. It's also the only bodily structure that can completely renew itself without scarring. There is hair on almost every surface of the human body.”[1]

The main purpose for hair is as touch receptors.

HAIR ANATOMY

                                                                         Image by koreesa.co.uk


The follicle is an organ with several layers and is the part of the skin that produces hair. The base of the follicle has a projection called the papilla. “The papilla is the very bottom portion of the hair follicle that contains the blood supply and the matrix.”[2] The matrix are specialized cells from which hair is formed.

The blood supply feeds the cells in the bulb, which is the area surrounding the papilla.

The inner and outer sheath is around the follicle. It “… protects and molds the growing hair shaft.

The inner sheath follows the hair shaft and ends just before the opening of the sebaceous gland. The outer sheath continues all the way up to the sebaceous gland. The arrector pili muscle, a tiny bundle of muscle fiber, is attached to the outer sheath. When the muscle contracts, it causes the hair to stand up, otherwise known as goosebumps.”[3]

The sebaceous glands are all over the human body except the soles, parts of the feet, lips and other area(s) on the body. These glands produce sebum that moisturizes the skin and the hair.

The hair shaft which is the part of the hair that you can see, is made up of three layers of dead, hard protein called keratin.

“The innermost layer of the hair shaft is the medulla. Depending on the type of hair, the medulla may not always be present. The middle layer is the cortex, which makes up the majority of the hair shaft. Both the medulla and cortex contain pigmenting cells that are responsible for giving hair color.

The outermost layer in the cuticle, which is formed by tightly packed scales in an overlapping structure that resembles roof shingles. Many hair conditioning products are formulated to even out the cuticle by smoothing out its structure.”[4]


                                                                         HAIR PHYSICAL LOOK

“Some people have corkscrew curly hair, while others have thick, shiny hair. The natural appearance of hair is attributed to the shape of the hair. The amount of natural curl a hair has is determined by its cross-sectional shape. Straight hair has a mostly circular circumference. Strands of curly or kinky hair are flat. The more circular the hair shaft, the straighter the hair. The flatter the shaft, the curlier the hair.

The cross-sectional shape also determines the amount of shine the hair has. Straighter hair is shinier because sebum from the sebaceous gland can travel down the hair more easily. The kinkier the hair, the more difficulty the sebum has traveling down the hair, and the more dry and dull the hair looks.”[1]


                                                                                HAIR GROWTH

The three (3) stages of hair growth are:

Anagen phase

This phase is where there are a lot of activities as the root hair divides rapidly helping to form the hairshaft.

Catagen phase

This is the next phase after the anagen phase. Here the club hair is formed after the outer root sheath attaches to the lower part of the hair shaft.

Telogen phase

This is the next phase after the catagen phase. This phase is considered the rest stage and is where the club hair is finished forming. Up to 100% of the club hair at this stage begins to shed daily.


What your hair tells you

                                                                           Dry, limp, thin-feeling hair

Hair dyes, hair blowers, and chlorinated water can lead to dry hair. When it gets very thin, it may be hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone. Since the main purpose of thyroid hormone is to "run the body's metabolism," it is understandable that people with this condition will have symptoms associated with a slow metabolism.”[2]

                                                                     Scaly or crusty patches on the scalp

Thick crust on the scalp can be psoriasis.

“Unpredictable and irritating, psoriasis is one of the most baffling and persistent of skin disorders. It's characterized by skin cells that multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. As underlying cells reach the skin's surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with white scales. Psoriasis typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp, and it can also affect the torso, palms, and soles of the feet.”[3]

                                                                                          Thinning hair

When there is excess thinning of hair and hair loss over the entire head (or a great proportion of the head), it is cause for concerns. Stress, fever, diabetes, side effects from medications, hormonal changes during pregnancy, perimenopause, polycystic ovary syndrome, telogen effluvium and infection can help to cause this.

Perimenopause means "around menopause" and refers to the time period during which a woman's body makes its natural transition toward permanent infertility (menopause). Perimenopause is also called the menopausal transition.”[4]

Polycystic (pah-lee-SIS-tik) ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that can affect a woman's:

  • Menstrual cycle
  • Ability to have children
  • Hormones
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Appearance

With PCOS, women typically have:

  • High levels of androgens (AN-druh-junz). These are sometimes called male hormones, though females also make them.
  • Missed or irregular periods (monthly bleeding)
  • Many small cysts (sists) (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries

How many women have PCOS?

Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age has PCOS. As many as 5 million women in the United States may be affected. It can occur in girls as young as 11 years old.

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS.

A main underlying problem with PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens than normal. Androgens are male hormones that females also make. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation.

Researchers also think insulin may be linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. High androgen levels can lead to:

  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation[5]

“A considerable number of different causes for telogen effluvium exist. Among the common causes are high fevers, childbirth, severe infections, severe chronic illness, severe psychological stress, major surgery or illnesses, over or under active thyroid gland, crash diets with inadequate protein, and a variety of medications. Most hair loss from medications is this type and causes include retinoids, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and NSAIDS (including ibuprofen).

Typically, abrupt diffuse hair loss is noticed several weeks to several months after the incident has initiated the biologic program for hair loss. While the most often noticed hair loss occurs on the scalp, some individuals may also notice hair loss elsewhere on the body. Significant hair shedding usually occurs when shampooing, combing, or even when gently manipulating the hair. Shedding usually slowly decreases over 6 to 8 months once the cause for the hair loss is no longer present. As some of the causes represent ongoing problems, it is important to determine the likely cause when possible and take appropriate measures to prevent continued hair loss.”[6]

Hair loss that seems permanent

This can be caused by diabetes, hormonal changes, androgenetic or androgenic alopecia.

“Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of the male hormone testosterone, is the enemy of hair follicles on your head. Simply put, under certain conditions DHT wants those follicles dead. This simple action is at the root of many kinds of hair loss, so we'll address it first.

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly called male or female pattern baldness, was only partially understood until the last few decades. For many years, scientists thought that androgenetic alopecia was caused by the predominance of the male sex hormone, testosterone, which women also have in trace amounts under normal conditions. While testosterone is at the core of the balding process, DHT is thought to be the main culprit.

Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle's oil glands. Scientists now believe that it's not the amount of circulating testosterone that's the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.

The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly when those levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider "normal" on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.”[7]


Dry, brittle hair that breaks easily

This breaking of hair can occur by hair being very brittle as a result of the use of chemicals like dyes and bleach, using synthetic hair, as well as over exposure to sunlight.

Hair falling out in patches

This may occur when the immune system attacks the hair follicles. This condition is called alopecia areata. Diabetes can trigger this, and in very bad cases, hair loss occurs all over the body.

Alopecia (al-oh-PEE-shah) means hair loss. When a person has a medical condition called alopecia areata (ar-ee-AH-tah), the hair falls out in round patches. The hair can fall out on the scalp and elsewhere on the body.

Alopecia areata can cause different types of hair loss. Each of these types has a different name:

  • Alopecia areata (hair loss in patches).
  • Alopecia totalis (lose all hair on the scalp).
  • Alopecia universalis (lose all hair on the body).

Not everyone loses all of the hair on the scalp or body. This happens to about 5 percent of people.

Hair often grows back but may fall out again. Sometimes the hair loss lasts for many years.

Alopecia is not contagious. It is not due to nerves. What happens is that the immune system attacks the hair follicles (structures that contain the roots of the hair), causing hair loss. This disease most often occurs in otherwise healthy people.”[8]


Hair with yellowish flakes and scaly, itchy patches

This can be caused by seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of eczema that “… appears on the body where there are a lot of oil-producing (sebaceous) glands like the upper back, nose and scalp. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, although genes and hormones play a role. Microorganisms that live on the skin naturally can also contribute to seborrheic dermatitis.

People of any age can develop seborrheic dermatitis including infants (known as “cradle cap”). The triggers for seborrheic dermatitis include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes or illness
  • Harsh detergents, solvents, chemicals and soaps
  • Cold, dry weather

In general, seborrheic dermatitis is slightly more common in men than in women. Patients with certain diseases that affect the immune system (such as HIV/AIDS) and the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, are also at increased risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious.”[9]


Gray Hair

Gray hair is said to be caused by genetics and stress. Other things that may cause gray hair are anemia, thyroid gland not working well, lack of vitamin B-12 and vitiligo.

What Is Vitiligo?

“Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes (ma-LAN-o-sites). Vitiligo can also affect the mucous membranes (such as the tissue inside the mouth and nose) and the eye.

What Causes Vitiligo?

The cause is not known. Vitiligo may be an autoimmune disease. These diseases happen when your immune system mistakenly attacks some part of your own body. In vitiligo, the immune system may destroy the melanocytes in the skin. It is also possible that one or more genes may make a person more likely to get the disorder.

Some researchers think that the melanocytes destroy themselves. Others think that a single event such as sunburn or emotional distress can cause vitiligo. But these events have not been proven to cause vitiligo.

Who Is Affected by Vitiligo?

Many people develop it in their twenties, but it can occur at any age. The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally, however, it is more noticeable in people with dark skin.

People with certain autoimmune diseases (such as hyperthyroidism) are more likely to get vitiligo than people who don’t have any autoimmune diseases. Scientists do not know why vitiligo is connected with these diseases. However, most people with vitiligo have no other autoimmune disease.

Vitiligo may also run in families. Children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. However, most children will not get vitiligo even if a parent has it.

What Are the Symptoms of Vitiligo?

White patches on the skin are the main sign of vitiligo. These patches are more common in areas where the skin is exposed to the sun. The patches may be on the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas for white patches are:

  • The armpits and groin (where the leg meets the body)
  • Around the mouth
  • Eyes
  • Nostrils
  • Navel
  • Genitals
  • Rectal areas.

People with vitiligo often have hair that turns gray early. Those with dark skin may notice a loss of color inside their mouths.

Will the White Patches Spread?

There is no way to tell if vitiligo will spread. For some people, the white patches do not spread. But often the white patches will spread to other areas of the body. For some people, vitiligo spreads slowly, over many years. For other people, spreading occurs quickly. Some people have reported more white patches after physical or emotional stress.”[10]

                                                                             Pull out hair easily

In addition to some of the above causes mentioned before under other headings that may help to make your hair easy to pull out, there are other factors such as hair disorder.

An example of a hair disorder is anagen hair syndrome.

Loose anagen syndrome or loose hair syndrome involves exactly what the name suggests, growing hair that is "loose" and easily pulled out of the hair follicle. Loose anagen syndrome is most often first diagnosed in young children, more so in girls than boys. Their hair never seems to grow, they rarely need a hair cut, and the scalp hair is usually thin, especially at the back of the scalp.

That the hair is loose and easily pulled out helps explain why the back of the head is most affected. The repeated rubbing of a person's head on a pillow at night pulls out more of the hair on the back of the head, whereas the front of the scalp has less contact with the pillow and so the hair is more likely to remain in place. The remaining hair usually does not grow very long and it can be unruly and difficult to comb and style.

Blond-haired children ages 2 to 5 are most likely to be affected but loose anagen syndrome can appear later in life as well. The syndrome improves with age of its own accord in children, but development in older individuals indicates the hair loss will be more persistent.

Why the hair is loose is not known, but the root sheaths that normally surround and protect the hair shaft in the skin are not produced properly in people with loose anagen syndrome. As a result, there is a lack of adhesion between the hair shaft and the root sheath, and the hair fiber is poorly anchored in the follicle.

There may be a genetic problem behind the syndrome and the condition can run in families, but there are also many isolated case reports with no family history. There are no known effective treatments for loose anagen syndrome.”[11]


So what has organic food got to do with your hair?


For every living thing, nutrient is required, so for humans it is no different. These nutrients are vital for our survival and for everything that has to do with our bodies, which includes our hair.

When it comes to nutrients, organic food is the way to go. Not just because it gives you more nourishment than conventional food, but it also helps to reduce toxic chemicals from entering the body (mainly because organic food is not sprayed with conventional chemicals), as well as aiding in protecting and conserving the environment we depend on for our survival.


                                                                            What your hair needs

An organic balanced diet is ideal, but just to give a bit of guidance, we are going to highlight some of the nutrients that are needed.

Your hair needs protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin A and selenium. Protein can be had from meats and nuts, iron from meats and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids from salmons and walnuts, zinc from oysters and cashews, vitamin A from spinach and carrots, and selenium from brazil nuts.

Other sources for iron are eggs and shellfish.

It is suggested that keeping a low-fat dairy diet, with whole grains and vegetables is good for scalp and hair health.

It is said that if the hair feels dry and breaks easily, you should drink fluids regularly, and avoid alcohol, tannins, sugar and caffeine.

Tannins (commonly referred to as tannic acid) are water-soluble polyphenols that are present in many plant foods. They have been reported to be responsible for decreases in feed intake, growth rate, feed efficiency, net metabolizable energy, and protein digestibility in experimental animals. Therefore, foods rich in tannins are considered to be of low nutritional value. However, recent findings indicate that the major effect of tannins was not due to their inhibition on food consumption or digestion but rather the decreased efficiency in converting the absorbed nutrients to new body substances. Incidences of certain cancers, such as esophageal cancer, have been reported to be related to consumption of tannins-rich foods such as betel nuts and herbal teas, suggesting that tannins might be carcinogenic. However, other reports indicated that the carcinogenic activity of tannins might be related to components associated with tannins rather than tannins themselves. Interestingly, many reports indicated negative association between tea consumption and incidences of cancers. Tea polyphenols and many tannin components were suggested to be anticarcinogenic.”[12]

Reduce use of dandruff shampoo as it may dry out and damage your hair. This is because some dandruff shampoo have dangerous chemicals in them. There may also be antifungal agents, sulfur and medicinal substances that may act negatively to your hair.

                                           More about organic food, nutrients and your hair


Organic food is the way for well-being, in addition to other activities you may do such as exercise, while ensuring you are living in a clean and healthy environment.

When eating meats, go for organic meats as they are usually lean and gives you more value for money. Especially as today, there are increases in the number of supermarkets and grocery stores selling stale, rotting and unhealthy meats.

Vitamin D helps to activate hair growth.

Protein aids in promoting cell growth and repair, in addition to strengthening and thickening hair.

Iron is good in preventing hair loss.

Oils are known for hydrating your hair.

Organic eggs give a lot of nutrients such as the B vitamin – biotin, protein, chlorine and vitamin D. As such, organic eggs help to grow hair and prevent hair loss.

Biotin is needed for growth.

It has been researched that organic spinach is good for brittle hair. It has vitamin A, iron, beta carotene, folate and vitamin C. Organic spinach also helps in moisturizing hair, and keeping scalp healthy. Other dark leafy organic vegetables may do the same thing such as organic kale.

Organic spinach is not only good for the hair, but because of vitamin A which is said to be an anti-ager, it may participate in allowing moisture retention to the epidermis so helping to prevent wrinkles and remove dead skin.

When organic food that is rich in vitamin C such as oranges and guava are consumed, they assist in improving the absorption of vitamin A.

The organic fruit guava helps to prevent breakage and has vitamin C.

Organic sweet potatoes helps hair that has lost its shine. It has antioxidants called beta carotene that the body converts to vitamin A. The vitamin A aids in protecting against dry, dull looking hair. It does this by helping sebum to be manufactured by the sebaceous gland. This sebum is oily and is what helps the hair to be shiny and keep it from getting dry.

Other organic food that has beta carotene are carrots, pumpkins, cantaloupes and mangoes.

Cinnamon helps with blood flow, so it aids in transporting oxygen and nutrients to hair follicles.

Organic seafood in general such as oysters are rich in zinc, and so they assist the hair to become “full” while also helping to prevent hair loss.

Organic coconut water is one of nature’s best hydration liquid that is full of nutrients and is great for hydration. It has potassium – an electrolyte that helps more nutrients to enter cells.

Organic coconut oil is rich in healthy fats, vitamins E, K and minerals. Therefore it is great for your hair as it helps to improve hair growth, and ensure a shiny hair by moisturizing the scalp.


[1] “The Biology of the Hair” About, Dermatology.about.comhttp://dermatology.about.com/cs/hairanatomy/a/hairbiology.htm

[2]“Hypothyroidism; Too little thyroid hormone” Endocrineweb, Endocrineweb.com,http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/hypothyroidism-too-little-thyroid-hormone

[3]“Understanding psoriasis – the basics” Webmd, Webmd.com, http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/understanding-psoriasis-basics

[4]“Perimenopause” Mayoclinic, Mayoclinic.org,

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/basics/definition/con-20029473

[5] “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Fact Sheet” Womens Health, Womenshealth.gov,http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html

[6] Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss” American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, Aocd.org, http://www.aocd.org/?page=TelogenEffluviumHA

[7] “Causes of hair loss” American Hair Loss Association, Americanhairloss.org,http://www.americanhairloss.org/women_hair_loss/causes_of_hair_loss.asp

[8] “Alopecia Areata” American Academy of Dermatology, Aad.org,

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-and-scalp-problems/alopecia-areata

[9] “Seborrheic Dermatitis” National Eczema Association, Natonaleczema.org, https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/seborrheic-dermatitis/

[10]“What is Vitiligo” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Niams.nih.gov, http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/vitiligo_ff.asp

[11] “Hair Loss: Hair Shaft Defects” WebMD, Webmd.com,

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hair-loss/hair-shaft-defects#1

[12] “Tannins and Human Health: A Review” National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9759559


[1][1] “The Biology of the Hair” About, Dermatology.about.comhttp://dermatology.about.com/cs/hairanatomy/a/hairbiology.htm

[2] “Hair Papilla”, About, Dermatology.about.comhttp://dermatology.about.com/library/bldefpapilla.htm

[3] “The Biology of the Hair” About, Dermatology.about.comhttp://dermatology.about.com/cs/hairanatomy/a/hairbiology.htm

[4] “The Biology of the Hair” About, Dermatology.about.comhttp://dermatology.about.com/cs/hairanatomy/a/hairbiology.htm



[1]“Organic Agriculture” Organic World Foundation, Organicworldfoundation.org

http://www.organicworldfoundation.org/organic_agriculture.html