By Mylinh Nguyen, R.TCMP, R.Ac
Greying of hair is a common phenomenon that many of us experience as we age. For some, it can begin in the early twenties, while for others it can gradually come on over the decades that follow. It is generally believed that genetics plays a primary role in this condition, however, there are ways to improve and even reverse this situation.
If you are looking to prevent, halt or reverse greying of hair, you will want to first consider its main causes. Developing a deeper understanding as to why hair loses colour may shed some light on your particular circumstances and help you differentiate between the normal process of aging and a symptom of poor lifestyle choices or deeper health issues.
One of the prominent reasons a person’s hair greys is because of their reduced ability to synthesize sufficient amounts of a pigment called melanin. Melanin is the component that gives hair its colour. Hair normally has a small amount of hydrogen peroxide that is kept at bay by the enzyme catalase. Catalase breaks hydrogen peroxide down into oxygen and water molecules. As we grow older, the production of catalase tends to reduce and over time can allow for a buildup of hydrogen peroxide in the hair. This in turn causes a disruption in normal melanin production and with a decrease in melanin hair starts to whiten or grey.
Another important cause to make note of is the result of exposure to toxins. Over the years, our bodies accumulate more and more toxins and if we do not address this issue on an regular basis, toxins build up in our system and make it harder for our bodies’ cellular processes to function properly. This can lead to protein deficiencies, mineral deficiencies and hormonal imbalances, all of which are known causes of premature greying. Thyroid dysfunction and certain autoimmune disorders are other health concerns that should also be taken into consideration if premature greying is occurring.
Other causes for greying hair include smoking, poor diet, obesity, unhealthy hair care practices, and stress. If these poor lifestyle habits become chronic, ongoing stress hormones are produced. With an increase in stress hormones, inflammation and oxidative stress in the body become elevated and this too affects melanin production. Smokers are 2 ½ times more likely to experience premature greying before 30 years old, when compared to non-smokers.
So, what can you do to bring back the colour in your hair? Below is a list of natural ways to prevent and/or reverse greying of hair.
Eat adequate amounts of protein: It has been shown that protein deficiency is a cause for hair pigmentation to fade. This is because melanin production requires adequate amounts of protein in the system. The recommended daily intake of protein is 0.36 grams per pound (or 0.8 grams per kg). For example, a 155lb sedentary man would need 56 grams of protein per day and a 130lb woman would need 46 grams. With increased physical activity, this amount increases.
Consume more humic acid: In some cases, premature aging symptoms like grey hair maybe the result of mineral deficiency, as mentioned above. One of the best ways of remedying such a problem is to consume foods rich in healthy minerals that will help detoxify, nourish, and reduce signs of aging in your body. Humic minerals overall improve gut health and immune function, allowing for better digestion and nutrient absorption. Fulvic acid, which is one of two classes of humic acid, can be used to penetrate the cell at the mitochondrial level and thus replenish natural mineral stores. Fulvic acid transports minerals and other nutrients to cells more effectively promoting an elevated absorption rate. This process aids in providing optimal body pH levels and allows for a more alkaline state.
Include folic acid, iron and copper-rich foods: Folic acid, iron and copper deficiencies have all been correlated with premature greying. If this is of concern for you, include more of the following foods in your diet. Foods rich in folic acid (Vitamin B-9) -spinach and other dark leafy greens, avocados, brussel sprouts, root vegetables and legumes. Foods rich in Iron -spinach, kidney beans, lentils, raisons, prunes. Foods rich in copper -lentils, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables.
Include catalase enzymes: It is important that you consume catalase enzymes to help prevent premature greying. You will find catalase enzymes in leeks, onions, broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, carrots, red peppers, celery, avocado, cucumbers, red cabbage and turnips.
Consider anti-aging herbs: Anti-aging herbs are well known for their ability to boost fertility and restore hair colour. In fact, some of these products have been used for centuries by Chinese Medicine practitioner in numerous ways. Their high-nutrient levels also make them ideal for person’s overall well-being. One of the most famous of these herbs is He Shou Wu. This herb works to support the liver and kidney, creating better blood flow to the scalp and nourishment to the hair.
Reduce stress: According to Scientific America, stress and grey hair are deeply connected. It has been shown that people who lead stressful lives are more likely to suffer from premature greying than those who have lower stress levels. Practicing deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation and yoga are just some of the ways to manage day-to-day stress.