If every day seems like a bad hair day and your nails are a shocking sight, don’t despair. Recent discoveries about what causes hair and nail problems are being made and there are now plenty of natural solutions available that are worth trying.
Hair and nails are both largely made of a tough fibrous protein called keratin. The visible parts are dead, but to make healthy hair and nail cells we need a good supply of nutrients to support the activity that is going on beneath the surface of the skin.
Help! I’m Losing My Hair and My Nails Are Brittle
It can be distressing when your hair starts thinning and your nails become unsightly. While nail and hair growth is largely determined by genetics, we can still improve their condition once we know the underlying problems.
In developed countries, most get plenty of calories, but, paradoxically, we may still suffer malnutrition if we’re starved of essential micronutrients (e.g. vitamins and minerals).
Malnutrition can occur when you’re not properly absorbing nutrients in the gut.
Conditions linked with malabsorption include:
Weight loss surgery
Prolonged use of antacids and proton pump inhibitors
If you think your absorption is compromised, it’s worth taking protein powder every day, as well as a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement that contains zinc, folate, B12, iron (if tests show you’re deficient) and biotin.
When women reach menopause, the growth phase for hair becomes shorter so hair sheds faster than it can be replaced.
The underlying hormonal process is not well understood, but it is thought that oestrogen stimulates hair growth. As our production of this hormone drops off, sadly, so does hair growth.
At the same time, women produce more biologically active ‘free’ testosterone. Some is metabolized into the hormone, DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT causes hair miniaturization, where the hair follicles shrink and hair grows finer and shorter and shorter over time.
This so-called androgenic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women.
Are Bald Men More Virile?
Men like to think that baldness is a sign of lots of testosterone and therefore lots of virility. This isn’t strictly true as male pattern baldness is more influenced by DHT.
Those who are genetically programmed to be more sensitive to this hormone will lose more hair than others.
Bear in mind that you’re more likely to see improvements if you tackle the problem early on.
Since DHT is the main culprit in most cases of hair loss, it stands to reason that most treatment strategies focus on inhibiting production of this hormone.
Natural DHT inhibitors include:
Phytoestrogens work in several different ways to improve hair growth and quality. They are DHT inhibitors, but they also promote hair growth and help you keep your natural colour by increasing your body’s natural growth hormone.
Soy-based foods (e.g tofu, soy milk, and soybeans) – Fermented miso paste is a good choice as you’re getting the bonus of good bacteria. Try 1 tbsp miso paste dissolved in hot water as a snack. You can also add miso paste to salad dressings, soups and stews.
Flaxseeds (linseeds) – These need to be ground, as our bodies are unable to extract the phytoestrogens from whole seeds. Enjoy a daily dose of 1-2 tbsp sprinkled on cereal or in smoothies.
Saw Palmetto is usually found in supplements for prostate health, but both sexes can use it to support hair health.
Pumpkin seed oil
Research has shown that pumpkin seed oil is an effective DHT inhibitor. In one study, participants achieved a phenomenal 40% increase in hair after 24 weeks of treatment using 400 mg pumpkin seed oil capsules.
Chinese knotweed is also known as Polygonum multiflorum or Fallopia multiflora or Fo-Ti. Make sure you consult a reputable herbalist if you want to try this herb.
Zinc is also crucial to growing long, strong nails.
HAIR & NAIL BOOSTER SMOOTHIE
1-2 tsp almond butter
1 cup almond milk
2-3 ice cubes
1-2 tbsp protein powder of your choice
1 small handful of either frozen mango or frozen pineapple chunks
2 tsp ground flaxseeds
1-2 tsp pumpkin seed oil (optional extra)
Are You Anaemic?
Anaemia is a common cause of hair loss and weak, ridged nails.
This can be because you’re not absorbing minerals well or because you’re not meeting your body’s iron needs through diet.
Before taking an iron supplement, it’s best to have your iron and ferritin levels checked by your doctor. Ferritin will show you what your iron stores are – if this is low, you’re likely to suffer hair loss.
Keep in mind that if your iron and ferritin levels are on the low side but still within the ‘normal’ range, you can still suffer hair loss.
It may sound like hyperbole, but this morning juice recipe really did change my life. What we do first thing in the morning to feed our bodies can change the course of each day. If you start the day right, you will have more energy, improved motivation, a better sense of intention, and less sadness and anxiety. If you focus on proper nutrition in the long term, it’s a huge step in the right direction for your overall health and risk of disease.
I make this juice every morning, and it has helped me through work stress, family drama, and various health challenges. It has propelled my energy to allow me to move my body each day, provided me vitamins and compounds to allow my body to heal, and balanced my neurotransmitters to keep me happy, focused, and sharp.
Drink this juice first thing in the morning after your body has fasted overnight (leaving a 12-hour window between dinner and breakfast the next day). At this point, the cells are hungry and receptive to nutrition. I juice all the ingredients because then my cells can simply absorb all the nutritional goodness without having to do much work in the form of digestion, metabolism, and utilization. Here are the six magical ingredients:
I always start with a whole lemon, juiced without the skin. Citrus fruits are high in vitamins, and a healthy dose of vitamin C can fight infection, reduce kidney stones, relieve indigestion, decrease headache pain, and help detoxify the body.
Cucumbers have important minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes to help maintain water balance in the body. They also contain erepsin, an important digestive enzyme to break down protein. Its plant sterols lower LDL, and its phytoestrogens helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
3. Fresh turmeric root.
Turmeric is a powerhouse anti-inflammatory and relieves arthritic pain, prevents atherosclerosis, and fights free radical damage to the brain. It can relieve symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, reduces risks of stomach ulcers, and improves mood and feelings of depression.
4. Fresh ginger root.
Ginger is a wonder food that fights inflammation, eases nausea related to anything from indigestion to chemotherapy, and is great for healing and protecting the gut. It is also wonderful for reducing sinus and head discomfort from colds and flu.
Brain-Boosting Morning Tonic
One whole lemon with peel cut off
One whole cucumber with peel
One 2-inch root of ginger (if you’re not a fan of ginger, cut this amount in half)
Two 3- to 4-inch roots of turmeric
One whole pear
One yellow or red beet
extract of ashwagandha
extract of astragalus
extract of goldenseal
extract of elderberry
Place all ingredients in a juicer, and add extracts of ashwaghandha and astragalus (for further adaptogenic support) or goldenseal and elderberry during flu season.
It’s a challenge for anyone to stay in the present moment. With our incessant social media scrolling, 24/7 news stream, and constant planning for the future, the distractions are omnipresent these days. For those suffering from eating disorders, a comparison mindset is one of those crippling distractions that keeps us from living in the here and now. When we’re constantly in comparison, we’re constantly judging ourselves, our past selves, and even our future selves. This is why for individuals suffering from an eating disorder, cultivating mindfulness can become the lifeline needed to ease self-destruction.
For those with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, thoughts around body image, caloric intake, and weight become incessant. These negative thought patterns hinder our capacity to live joyful, meaningful lives in the present moment. Life can only unfold in the present moment experience, so when our minds are mired in wishing our weight or body were different, we’re perpetually dissatisfied with life. This dissatisfaction is where misery thrives.
What’s one way to break this cycle? Mindfulness. Eastern Washington University suggests that using mindfulness as a treatment approach is effective, since eating disorders are associated with perfectionism, control, and harsh self-criticism. In essence, if we can change our relationship with our thoughts, we can begin to heal our relationship with ourselves—this includes our body. Here are three ways mindfulness is a power tool against eating disorders:
1. Mindfulness helps you identify triggers in the moment.
When we’re present with ourselves and our environments, we begin to learn the relationship we have with environmental triggers. For example, asking the question, “What is fuelling this self-destructiveness?” is a tremendously helpful piece of self-inquiry for those suffering from eating disorders. Environmental triggers could include seeing skinny model images in the media, a challenging interpersonal relationship, or being exposed to particular foods. Internal triggers could be default modes of negative thinking or old belief systems.
The more we can get to know inner and outer triggers, the more opportunity we have to heal and change our relationship with life. Awareness is the first step of transformation. Mindfulness techniques that help us to shine the light of awareness on our triggers include daily meditation, journaling, and remembering to pause in moments of emotional imbalance. This pausing creates space for healthier actions to take place—such as mindful breathing or actively changing thought patterns.
2. Observing your thoughts will help you befriend your inner critic.
Our inner critic constantly tells us we’re not good enough and we’ll never be good enough until we, for example, obtain a particular weight or body image. Inner critics fuel addiction to perfectionism and attachment to maladaptive behaviors such as bingeing and purging. It’s easy to disown that aggressive inner critic, but practicing self-compassion is the strongest antidote.
What is self-compassion anyhow? It’s the feeling that arises when you acknowledge your own suffering with a kind, nonjudgmental heart. Kristen Neff, a self-compassion researcher, talks about self-compassion as a way to shift from self-judgment to self-kindness. Self-compassion involves approaching our perceived failures, hardships, and moments of suffering with gentleness. Self-compassion can teach us the beauty of our imperfections, as we begin to own our innate wholeness as individuals. For those suffering from eating disorders, practicing this kindness and compassion turned inward is an essential component of healing and recovery.
3. Meditation is a proven mood booster.
Neuroscience now shows what ancient yogis and meditators have known for centuries—that healing happens through the body utilizing stillness and silence. Dr. Anne Fabiny, former editor in chief of Harvard Women’s Health, explains that meditation can be as effective as antidepressants. The negative thought patterns associated with eating disorders can wreak havoc on our mood states, resulting in depressive symptoms. Meditation cultivates a mind that can find itself, even if it loses its way. For example, when a thought of self-hatred arises, we can observe the thought without attachment or reactivity—and then allow it to organically float out of our consciousness. This power of presence is strengthened through formal sitting meditation. Just 10 minutes a day can birth tremendous benefits, bringing awareness to thought patterns and giving us the perspective to see that thoughts are real experiences not necessarily based on truth.
Mindfulness offers us a portal through which we can ignite our inner power for healing and synergy between our minds and bodies. Remember: Moment-to-moment, we can change our relationship with the mind, body, and heart, stepping into a life full of joy. Your transformation starts NOW.
By @Chervelle.Camille, Semperviva 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training student.
It was the beginning of week 2 in yoga teacher training, and emoted inwardly was “I can’t believe I am doing this!” Even though ‘this’ was exactly what spearheaded the decision of pursuing yoga to a degree that runs further than only a weekly practice.
This winter catalogs the one-year anniversary of my own metamorphic transformation. The foundation began with being more cognisant of the nutrients I digested thus altering my eating habits; while and actively participating in daily trainings and workouts formed my new frame and structure, like the walls of a precious stone. I was breathing and alive again, in many ways: body, mind, and soul. With a confidence that once felt like a distant memory.
Each day, my fitness community encouraged me to believe more of myself. Every endorphin ounce of sweat increased a confidence that lead into “I can” mode. A posture that channeled the trajectory of my career.
Never did I ever think yoga was the path for me. Yes, it was a practice intertwined with daily workouts. But, never was it more than that.
Now it is the purpose to my actions. Now I get to take this work that is internal and learn how to ‘teach’ it to others.
A year ago, I said yes to healing this body of mine by concentrating on the breath. Physical activity has taught me a lot about breathing. Yoga, has done so even more. With the deepening of my practice, I love that I get to learn something new about life and most importantly of myself.
It is not lost on me of how fortunate I am to be able to study the art of being a yoga teacher. I came into this program without any expectations, but with an open mind and the will to learn.
Following back to the top of week 2 in training, there was a thought began to lay carefully in my mind, “Why did you choose to return? What was your reasoning? Was it for self-actualisation, clarity, or awareness?” So, before signing in my fellow peers (all 47 of us!) in to training, and before heading in to practice Vinyasa with Sarah, I sat with my journal and wrote out what my mind chewed on.
I choose to return to this class today to deepen my practice of yoga –the physical and the mindful awareness. I desire to move poetically, and to contemplate, and to let my body answer the questions that my mind seeks. My yoga practice is leading me into a deeper sense of my self and of my spirit. By returning, I am choosing to practice on purpose, creating a sadhana ritural. A spiritual endeavor leading me to my divine nature…to my life’s purpose.
I choose to return to week 2 of yoga teacher training to nurture this ever growing self and to further educate this ever developing mind. Coming to me in a knowing sense, and flowing through me in various forms of creativity, service, and ability. There is a wealth of knowledge and potential waiting to be shared. This is a challenge faced with many questions like “why do I want to teach? How do I keep this teaching sustainable? Is it worth it? How will I know what to do…with my students…with myself…with teaching a class? How do I stay inspired?” Truth is, I don’t know the answers to these questions, nor can the faculty answer them for me, but they surely can help guide me there. By returning, I am choosing to go deep into the heart of teaching and to that place of ‘knowing’. By returning, I am choosing to commit myself to a life changing experience.
Naturally, I took this contemplation beyond myself. While conversing with my fellow peers, I subtly asked them “why did they return?” The collective consensus was that they love the notion that yoga is accessible. I could not agree more
The faculty here at Semperviva embodies a wealth of knowledge and experience. Not only are they educating us on the parameters and the fundamentals of yoga, they teach us the realities and disciplines that it conveys.
We are now entering our third week of training. I don’t know what to expect, but what I know for sure is that my knowledge and awareness will deepen.
So I ask you, why did you return today? To your mat, to your life, to this space? What was your reason?
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