Hair health is closely related to a balanced diet, according to TCM practice. As we are getting close to the Mid-Autumn Festival, let us have a look at a TCM doctor’s advice, which says that we should take care not to consume excessive amounts of five kinds of food if we want to maintain healthy hair. At the same time, it serves as a reminder to be vigilant of the effect of food during the festival to ensure healthy hair growth.
Chen Hsin Hung, a TCM physician at Taiwan’s Joyful HAN Chinese Medicine Clinic, posted on his Facebook page informing his followers that foods having the following characteristics are not good for healthy hair growth. Those foods that are excessively spicy and salty, have high sugar content, high fat, are processed and highly refined, and with excessive alcohol and caffeine are in this category.
Heavily Spicey or Highly Salty Ingredients
i) Excessive spicy ingredients: TCM attributes a moderate amount of spicy food intake can help improve blood circulation. However, excessive intake of spicy flavours will cause sweating, and excessive sweating will cause loss of body fluid. Excessive body fluid loss will cause an oily scalp, leading to the blocking of hair follicles and pores, which is not conducive to hair growth.
ii) Excessive salty ingredients: TCM believes that salt can enter the kidneys, and an appropriate amount of salt can help supplement trace elements. Excessive consumption, however, can cause too much burden on the body and can cause blood pressure changes, and it can even cause abnormal circulation problems, resulting in insufficient blood delivered to the scalp.
Chen pointed out that when the blood circulation to the scalp deteriorates, nourishment of the scalp will decrease, and the hair will gradually become chlorotic and slender. That will accelerate the hair follicle cells to enter the telogen (complete rest) phase and eventually fall off.
High Sugar Content
Chinese medicine believes that sugar can enter the spleen, and a moderate amount of it can help activate the spleen and enhance stomach function.
Sugary substances are one of the most important energy sources for metabolism for the growth of human cells, but too much sugar will activate the action of insulin in the blood, and start a series of aerobic reactions, consuming the micro-organisms and coenzymes in the body. From such added activities, a lot of oxidation processes are involved, resulting in more multi-oxidation products, such as oxy radicles and acidic substances.
Chen said that a diet that contains too much sugar will cause a short-term deficiency of trace elements, resulting in inflammation, excess sebum secretion, and so on, which are all unfavorable conditions for the scalp and hair growth, hindering the absorption of nutrients by the hair, and in serious cases will cause hair follicles to enter the telogen phase, causing hair losses.
Overly delicious food is likely to contain a lot of fat and sugar. Chen reminded us that high-fat and high-sugar foods can both cause oily scalp, and in severe cases, block hair follicles, cause inflammation, and induces skin diseases, such as dandruff, eczema, or psoriasis. High-fat foods can also cause elevated testosterone in the body, resulting in an increase in dihydrotestosterone, which will worsen androgenetic baldness.
Processed and Highly Refined Food
Processed foods contain a lot of additives, such as preservatives, artificial colouring, artificial sweeteners, and so on. These substances can cause the body to initiate an inflammatory response and harm the body in return. In order to make it taste more delicious, processed foods also contain excessive amounts of condiments such as salt, sugar, and oil, so better be aware and not consume too much.
Too Much Smoking, Excessive Alcohol, and Caffeine
Smoking has been shown to be associated with many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular, the three highs (high blood pressure, high blood lipids, high cholesterol), and pulmonary diseases. Smoking will cause poor blood circulation in the scalp and the formation of a high oxygen-deficient environment, resulting in insufficient blood supply to the hair and creating a superoxide environment, leading to hair losses.
Chen stressed that so far scientists have no solid proof that alcohol or caffeinated drinks can directly cause hair losses. However, excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine from coffee or strong tea will put extra pressure on the endocrine within the body and cause the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to be in a continuous state of excitement for a prolonged period, which is not conducive to hair growth.