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Resources

Women's hair loss

Breaking a taboo. That’s what my new course on How to Manage Women’s Hair Loss does. Nobody talks about this. Women (who generally discuss everything with friends) don’t talk about this. It might possibly be something that your hairdresser brings up if you have a solid long-term relationship.

Hair shedding

When it first happened to me I was already hyper-aware of the subject of hair loss as my son had been diagnosed with alopecia the year before. That said, I thought I was just noticing the shedding BECAUSE I knew about alopecia. In truth I was completely in denial.

While I didn’t have lots of hair on my pillow, I did notice a lot of shedding after washing my hair. Again, I could dismiss this as ‘normal’… it’s wonderful how we can rationalize what we don’t want to deal with! The moment when I realised that this wasn’t actually normal was when (and this is gross, if you’re eating please stop reading) my hair kept turning up in food that I’d prepared. When that happens repeatedly it’s really not something that you can ignore.

This was just one of the side effects of my hormones being completely out of whack – that’s a technical term, and it wasn’t even the worst symptom. Looking back stress was a big trigger. I’d had a major health scare in 2014. Then I started a gluten free bakery business which looked good on paper. It was making money, we’d won many national awards for our bread, cakes and biscuits, and my team was brilliant the flip-side of that was working 60+ hours a week, while looking after my three children by myself (my husband worked away). Oh and doing all of the other stuff that women do when they run a household.

Did I ask for help? Nope. I thought that the answer was just to work harder…

I managed to create an exit strategy after getting off the hamster wheel for a short break in France. This brief pause made me realise how unsustainable both my business and family life were. The holiday was in August and by the following January I’d turned the door sign to ‘Closed’ for the final time. While my customers were sad, I was euphoric and turned my attention to my health.

Your body’s signal for help!

So yes I know all about how we fool ourselves into thinking that hair loss isn’t really an issue. Think of it like the canary in a coalmine. Your body is sending you (not so subtle) messages that all isn’t well. If you don’t listen these signs become even more obvious until you really can’t avoid them. Like getting a mouthful of hair. Yum.

It’s a monthly subscription which is priced at around a third less than my coach advised… I don’t want price to be a barrier. (Yes, I know that price can be used as an excuse for not spending cash, i.e investing in yourself). If it makes you feel better about buying it now the price will be increasing in January! And if you’re wondering why, you should meet my coach.

I’m happy to run the first three months as a pilot and then re-evaluate. This means that rather than waiting until the New Year to start making a big change, you can start now and actually start experiencing regrowth by January (it takes 2/3 months for growth to start).

How to Manage Women’s Hair Loss is an online self-study course, plus a monthly group coaching session (third Thursday of the month 19:30 UK time). Yes, this means that the first one is next week.

I’m delighted to include this group coaching session as this is where you’ll have the chance to learn from others and start to put the pieces together yourself.

Interested? Here’s the link: https://practicalhealthcoach.thinkific.com/courses/how-to-manage-womens-hair-loss

Practical Health Coach

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while as I’m aware that my happiness levels have increased quite dramatically over the last six months. What’s changed? Well in a nutshell, it’s me. In April 2021 I began a program with the purpose of improving mental fitness. It was a 6 week program which included daily exercises, videos and a monthly live coaching program. which assesses then builds upon your Positive Intelligence Quotient (PQ).

As a Health Coach I was highly skeptical at first as I already had fitness and meditation routines in place. My sleep patterns were pretty good, but this is an area that I’ve struggled with in the past. I’m no stranger to the devastating impact of being woken up by whirling thoughts at 3 am which would stay with me for hours and took me back to the sleep deprivation of being a new Mum.

I already had an awareness of the impact of negative thoughts from my study of Dr David Hawkins work. For example, 80% of your thousands of daily thoughts are negative, and 95% of these are circling around subconsciously on repeat. In the past this supported our survival as it was helpful to remember that when your friend Brian ate those berries he had diarrhoea for a week, or that that bear asleep in a cave didn’t appreciate being woken up. These evolutionary traits are slow to catch up with how we’re actually living today.

PQ Program

The PQ program helped me by specifically identifying my personal saboteurs that were having a negative impact on my life. Once I started to recognise them I could see that they were showing up everywhere. I could look back on decisions that I’d made with a knowing Aha! It could easily have become overwhelming, however the PQ program teaches you how to fundamentally change your response rather than continue with the default decision-making that you have in place. In my case that default process had been reliably used for the last 40+ years. Incredibly you can shift this in as little as 6 weeks.

The game changer is having the ability to shift your personal saboteurs which means that you stop sabotaging your own life.

What changes did I make?

My diet and exercise program both received an upgrade, my sleep improved. However the biggest change for me was stopping drinking alcohol. I knew that it wasn’t good for me, and drinking even one glass of wine would make me feel unwell in the morning. My body was definitely sending me signs that alcohol didn’t suit me. Despite knowing all of this, and even being aware of it for years I continued to drink socially. After a couple of months of the PQ program I was able to say ‘Enough’ and was able to stop. It was as if my brain was finally able to catch up and listen to the signals that my body had been sending. I’m four months in and am feeling fantastic, plus I keep receiving compliments on how ‘healthy’ I look.

How can improving mental fitness help you?

Let’s see! What are your goals? What do you have a niggly feeling that you want to change? What do you regularly do that annoys you, and you wish that you could stop? The brilliant thing about this program is that you bring the goals that you’ve had in the back of your mind for a while, but have struggled to achieve. Upgrading your mental fitness has the versatility to be applied to ANY area of your life. For example, your weight, exercise, sleep, relationships, decision-making ability, stress management, being a better parent, driving (!). The PQ program adapts to fit your unique needs, your particular saboteurs and your goals. If you’re interested to find out more here’s a link to the Saboteur assessment. https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/mental-fitness/

I always have new group programs starting (videos are out on a Saturday, live group coaching is on a Monday), please get in touch if you’d like to find out how to be happier. As a board certified Health Coach I’m delighted to partner with Shirzad Chamine and bring his life-changing ideas to you, here’s his TEDx talk if you’d like to know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zdJ1ubvoXs

Does biotin work or is it a scam?

I’m sure that you’ll have noticed that biotin is rife within products that purport to support hair growth, but does biotin work? It’s also known as Vitamin B7 and is a water soluble vitamin that isn’t stored in the body. It’s main role is the activation of enzymes called carboxylases. The majority of people obtain enough biotin from their diet, plus your gut microbiota also makes it. The RDA for biotin is 30 mcg daily. Most people in developed countries consume 35 mcg to 75 mcg per day plus an additional amount is manufactured in the gut.

How does biotin work?

Biotin is associated with hair growth as it’s fundamental to producing keratin which is the protein that comprises the majority of the hair shaft.

Good food sources of biotin include: beef liver, cooked whole egg, salmon, pork chop, roasted sunflower seeds, sweet potato, roasted almonds.

Supplement for hair growth

So why is biotin always included in hair supplements? The unlikely but not unsurprising answer is Marketing. It’s as if supplement companies are adding 2+2 and reaching 5 rather than 4. However they don’t let that stop them as that would have a negative impact on sales.

While there are a small minority of people who have a deficiency of biotinidase (that’s the enzyme that helps to recycle biotin to enable it to be reused by the body). The deficiency occurs when this enzyme isn’t working properly. Biotinidase deficiency (BTD) is caused by genetic mutations in the BTD gene. Other health problems caused by BTD include: seizures, developmental delays, problems controlling movement and with vision and hearing. It can also have an impact on skin (eczema) and  hair (alopecia).

Rare Disease

While BTD is a rare disease it can be treated with supplemental biotin. Interestingly there are two categories of BTD: profound and partial. Those in the profound group tend to have more severe symptoms earlier in life. It’s estimated that 1 in 60,000 people are impacted by BTD. This small group of people are the ones who would benefit from a biotin supplement and will need that supplement for life.

In the US newborns are screened for BTD, although it’s always worth double-checking the exact procedure in your state. For example my children were born in New York and Connecticut and were tested at birth for this and many other genetic disorders. The UK elects not to screen for BTD due to cost and the low incidence rate. Here’s a link for some more information:  https://bimdg.org.uk/site/about.asp

You might be thinking that this woman’s just a Functional Health Coach what does she know? Fair point! Clearly I’m not a medical professional or scientist. I help people to change their daily behaviours to improve their health. However I’m incredibly passionate about regrowing hair as I know the impact that this can have on all of the other areas of your life. I find that people suffering from hair loss can easily fall victim to sales scams for shampoos or supplements.

Medical literature

Let’s take a look at the medical studies. A 2017 review of eighteen biotin studies showed that biotin supplementation did improve hair growth! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/ Wait, what? Let’s take a deeper look… Fourteen of those studies were on patients with an underlying genetic condition (like BTD), so yes given what we already know we’d expect their hair growth to improve. The remaining four studies were focused on low biotin levels and brittle nails, i.e these subjects were not presenting with hair loss. All eighteen studies were on babies and young children.

More recently in 2020 a study on biotin deficiency and telogen effluvium found that biotin levels were optimal for all 80 subjects (20 of whom were the control group with no hair loss). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7159307/ The group had equal representation of men and women and concluded that there were no statistical differences between biotin levels and people with telogen effluvium and the control group.

Who’s at risk of biotin deficiency?

That said, certain groups of people are more likely to suffer from a deficiency. For example, risk factors include chronic alcoholism, chronic antibiotic use, gastrointestinal issues (impairing absorption) and Accutane use. In the US up to half of all pregnant women might be suffering from a mild biotin deficiency which has the potential to contribute to birth defects.

One other thing to watch out for is raw eggs. There’s a protein in raw egg whites called avidin which binds biotin. Eating large amounts of raw egg whites will significantly increase your risk of biotin deficiency. Cooking the egg whites decreases the amount of avidin although some will remain.

Negative impact

Finally biotin supplementation can have a negative impact on your health. While there’s not a known toxic amount it can create false test results for thyroid screening. Just because it’s possible to buy a product over the counter with no prescription doesn’t mean that it’s safe, even a 10mg dose is enough to create a misdiagnosis. Given the intense marketing efforts by supplementation companies and the ubiquitous appearance of biotin, it’s easy to see why vulnerable consumers are being conned. Don’t even get me started on biotin shampoos!!!

So does biotin work?

To conclude from the information available, I’d say it works for specific cases where there’s an actual deficiency which could have multiple underlying causes. In my experience of working with clients biotin hasn’t been part of the solution. After all, how simple would that be?

If you’re ready to address your health and make changes to improve it in a scam free setting then let’s talk. https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/work-with-me

Autoimmune flare

What can you do when you’re in the middle of an autoimmune flare? Depending on the AI disease(s) that you’re managing this could appear in many different ways. For example it could mean a recurrence of hair loss for alopecia, or fatigue and brain fog for Hashimoto’s.

These are steps that I’d recommend taking to manage an autoimmune flare:

Time

Look at your To-do list or schedule for the next few days, what can you drop or move to next week?

Sleep

Prioritise sleep. This means maintaining good sleep hygiene, for example, make sure that you get outside (the earlier the better to support your circadian rhythm), avoid blue light in the evening and keep your bedroom cool and dark.

Food

Prioritise nutrient dense whole food. This isn’t the time to think that you feel like rubbish so might as well attack the chocolate, crisps and booze as it can’t do any more harm as you already feel terrible.

Instead focus on meat/chicken stock rather than the longer cooked bone broth, healthy snacks like nuts and seeds, and foods containing healthy fats (particularly omega 3s). Here’s a link to some nutrient dense, gut supporting foods. https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/foods-to-regrow-your-hair/

Have a think about what food you really want to eat right now and follow that instinct with the aim of healthing it up if it’s not already healthy. For example, if you really want to eat chicken wings, then eat chicken wings but have them baked rather than fried. I love this recipe from Dr Anna Cabeca. https://drannacabeca.com/blogs/recipes/chicken-wings-with-buffalo-sauce

Maintain hydration by drinking warm water rather than cold or hot.

Self-care

Be kind to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up for the things that you’re not able to do. Trust me, I know it’s frustrating but being annoyed with yourself isn’t going to help.

Have a bath, add a cup of Epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts is absorbed via your skin and supports over 300 of your body’s biochemical reactions.

Try some gentle exercise. It could be a walk, it could be some yin yoga. This is not the time for HIIT or pushing your heart rate up with a run.

Meditate

Meditate, just 10 minutes a day will make a difference. Use an app with a guided meditation to help you, or if you’re a seasoned meditator make sure that you continue to carve out the time for yourself.

Medications

Check your medications with your doctor, are they still at the right dose? The same thing goes with your supplements are you up-to-date and taking what you need to?

Find joy

What would you love to do? What can you schedule for yourself that will put a great big smile on your face? Whatever it is, plan to do it over the next few days.

Even if you’re in the middle of an autoimmune flare there’s always something that you can do to help yourself. If you’re looking for more support you can book time in my calendar here: https://calendly.com/practicalhealthcoach/45-min

Vegetables to help regrow your hair

If you’re interested in which foods can help to regrow your hair, you’re in luck! It’s the New Year and we’re all keen (I think…) to improve our eating habits after the last few months.  In the UK walking around a supermarket from September onwards is literally a battle of temptation and nostalgia for Christmas eating. We’ve emerged on the other side only to be met by creme eggs, but they can be safely ignored until April this year.

Not ready for AIP or Paleo?

While you might be happy to plunge full-on into the AIP diet or a Paleo reset, equally you might not. If you’re in the latter category but also want to ramp up your healthy eating a little these are the foods that will support hair growth. They’re in no particular order, and you should aim to consume foods from a couple of different categories daily:

Fats: Avocado, MCT oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Flaxseed oil and Coconut oil.

Protein: Fatty fish rich in omega 3 like wild salmon, mackerel and sardines, chicken liver, calf’s liver.

Vegetables (starchy): Sweet potatoes, beetroot and parsnips

Vegetables (non-starchy): Cruciferous veg like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy. Spinach, asparagus, onions, organic seaweed.

Fruits: Berries, Cherries, Pomegranates and apples.

Grains: Gluten free grains only!

Nuts and seeds: Flaxseeds, Walnuts and chia seeds.

Herbs and spices: Basil, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, turmeric and sage.

Full disclosure: I’m not a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist, I’m a Functional Health Coach who has had success with these foods in regrowing hair!

With this quick post on which foods can help to regrow your hair I’m trying to keep it simple and give you a steer towards foods which will support hair growth once you’ve ruled out any intolerances that you may have and have started to improve your gut health. I haven’t even mentioned bone broth… which is brilliant as long as it doesn’t trigger a histamine response. This is a great article on that very topic: https://chriskresser.com/could-your-histamine-intolerance-really-be-mast-cell-activation-disorder/?fbclid=IwAR1xoK18j19vpjaMFjCkGI280zqfT0NPdNrK5jsAW2nX6bVDo9JVHEouLew

If you’d like to find out if I can help you, book some time in my calendar. https://calendly.com/practicalhealthcoach/45-min