TV chef Jamie Oliver’s tireless campaigning to get us all eating better could be reaping rewards in the most unlikely of places. Because as well as helping our waistlines, the culinary activist could be helping stave off hair loss, too.
One of the most surprising things about hair loss is that it can be influenced in some cases by a whole number of unexpected things – including the food we eat. A good diet probably won’t stop you losing hair if your genes/physiology are already heading down that route, but eating well and staying healthy may delay things somewhat, or at least not worsen any existing hair thinning.
Healthy, fresh ingredients
Since 2008 – not long after he started campaigning to try and make school dinners a touch more healthy – Jamie has been running Ministry of Food classes at four locations around the country, the goal being to get people cooking more confidently and with an eye on healthy, fresh ingredients.
Now, a new study by the University of Leeds has found that Jamie’s courses have long-lasting positive effects. According to researchers, who surveyed 800 Ministry of Food attendees who went to Jamie’s workshops between 2010 and 2014, the amount of fruit and veg they now eat compared to what they used to eat has skyrocketed.
Immediately after the courses attendees’ fruit and veg portions increased from 2.7 per day to 3.4 – with the number rising even further once they’d settled into a habit of using fresh food. Six months later and clearly influenced by their Jamie Oliver experience, the average daily number of fruit and veg portions had risen to 4.1 – a hike of more than 50 per cent compared to what they ate before attending the course.
Leonora Doclis, senior hair loss specialist at Belgravia, applauds what Jamie has done as she knows only too well how important a good diet is for healthy hair. “Cutting down on sugar and salt and reducing ‘bad’ fats are within everyone’s grasp,” she says, “but all too often we slip into a routine of eating things that either don’t do us any good or actually do us harm. And this really can impact on hair health. There have been numerous studies showing how processed foods and a diet that is generally lacking in fruit and vegetables and the vital minerals and vitamins they give us can impact on health – including hair health – and I frequently see evidence of this when examining clients.”
One of the most common diet-related factors to influence hair health is an iron deficiency. This can reduce the amount of haemoglobin in the blood, meaning that hair follicles in people with anaemia can become starved of oxygen and thus suffer. Zinc deficiency is also quite commonly seen: this can cause hair shafts to weaken so that they become brittle.
A bad diet can also play a part in Type 2 diabetes, which in turn can lead to thinning hair, either because of hormonal imbalances or as a result of other medical complications.
Whilst the extra shedding caused by these types of dietary imbalances and related health conditions is often temporary, it can trigger or accelerate Male Pattern Baldness or, for women, Female Pattern Hair Loss in those people who have an inherited predisposition to these permanent, genetic conditions.
For this reason, the whole lifestyle of Belgravia clients is considered when staff devise a bespoke hair loss treatment course, as diet – alongside stress, smoking and even fitness regimes – can play an important part in overall hair health. For those who are not getting enough of the right nutrients needed for healthy hair, a daily food supplement called Hair Vitalics can be included in treatment courses – although it is also available to non-clients – to ensure these bases are covered.
While Jamie Oliver is unlikely to have had hairloss on his mind when first devising his Ministry of Food courses, he will no doubt be delighted that he is helping people in any number of ways.
“Ministry of Food, for me, has always been about empowering people and giving them the knowledge and the confidence to feed themselves and their families better,” he says. “The beauty of it is that it’s all about local people helping other local people to create delicious, fresh, nutritious food that doesn’t cost a fortune.”
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.