By Adele Ghraiche
BAppSc (Naturopathic Studies)
PGradDip ( Naturopathy)
One thing that may concern the majority of us about getting another year older is the natural signs of ageing such as sagging skin, wrinkles and a stray or grey patch of hair. However, have you ever thought of what may contribute to greying hair, and what role you may be playing in accelerating the growth of grey hair?
You may be surprised but one of the main contributors to greying hair is genetics. Your parent’s hair is a key indicator of what to expect in the future. If they were more prone to have grey hair earlier in life then it may be likely
you will too.
However genetics is not the only contributor, nutritional factors can also contribute to greying of hair. Hair is a hard compound of proteins and minerals, formed by the hair follicle which gets its nutrition from the blood supply to the scalp. There are various elements found in the hair such as Melanin which is a pigment that gives your hair its natural colour.
Foods that you eat, the social and environmental choices that you make can contribute to decreasing the capacity of melanin in your hair which can then speed up the greying process of your hair.
Poor dietary choices such as foods high in trans fats and low in nutrients can contribute to oxidative stress which affects the process of melanin production. Poor dietary choices can also contribute to a lack of essential nutrients in your diet. Melanin formation requires Vitamin B12, zinc, iodine and copper, and deficiencies in these nutrients may further accelerate the greying of your hair.
Stress is something that we all experience in life, however, did you know that stress too can contribute to the greying of hair by reducing the production of melanin?
Social habits such as smoking can also contribute to the greying of hair. Smoking contributes to the development of free radicals which can cause oxidative stress in the body, leading to a decrease in the pigmenting capacity of the melanin and resulting in greying of hairs.
So what can you do to try and reduce the acceleration of greying hair?
Increase the amount of foods which are high in Vitamin B12, zinc, iodine and copper such as oysters, brazil nuts, almonds, kelp, prawns, squid and crab.
Increase the amounts of antioxidant foods in your diet which help reduce oxidative stress such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Avoid or try and reduce the amount of processed foods and foods which are high in refined sugar in your diet. If you are a smoker try to quit or cut back, while increasing the amounts of antioxidants in your diet. Exercise to aid in reducing mental stress as well as improving general wellbeing.
So what if you are past the premature greying stage and grey has taken over?
There are natural colourants which you can use that will not damage your hair further such as Henna, which is a natural colourant and hair strengthener. Herbatint is an organically based permanent hair colour with the added benefit of having the capability to cover grey/white hair without the use of ammonia (the strong gas found in most colourants).
You may be a year older and now a little wiser, so if grey hair is a concern there are natural options which will add a bit of colour to your hair.