When we think about hair loss causes the first things we think about are hormones, stress and diet. Although you may not realize it, the liver is a crucial part of that puzzle, connecting all of these elements. An enzyme called co-enzyme A processes fat and androgen hormones in the liver (see here for details). However when co-enzyme A levels are insufficient, some excess fat is sent to the skin to be released through the skins pores as sebum. The skins largest pores are found on the face, back and of course the scalp. This is where we commonly find highest sebum excretions. By increasing co-enzyme A in the liver it is possible to achieve a distinct decrease in skin sebum levels: For more information on increasing co-enzyme A see here. On the other hand, by decreasing fat and hormone inputs to the liver we can also decrease skin sebum, by decreasing the amount of work co-enzyme A has to do in the liver. Based on this logic it is easy to understand how by decreasing your consumption of fat (for example by eating less burgers and pies) you can decrease skin sebum levels — since there is a connection between fat input to the liver, co-enzyme A and skin sebum. However there is far more to it than that…
How we Cause Our Own Hair Loss (in the Western World)
Refined Sugars, Grains and DairyRefined grain products like bread and pasta are probably one of the largest parts of our modern diets. When consumed, refined grains and refined sugars cause a rapid and large increase in our blood sugar levels. The body reacts by producing large volumes of hormones, including insulin and androgen hormones. These hormones must be processed by the liver.
Why this Causes Hair LossMy hypothesis is that high fat, sugar, grains and dairy consumption may all be a major underlying cause of increased DHT in the scalp. Consumptions of these foods increases hormone production in the body, including androgen hormones, which may lead to an increase in DHT, affecting hair growth – whether through fibrosis, inflammation or some form of auto-immune response triggered by DHT.
Could Liver Strength be the Genetic Factor in Hair Loss?Based on the above hypothesis, every day the vast majority of Westerners are giving themselves daily doses of hair loss causing hormones by consuming the precise foods that spike hormones – and we’re doing this throughout the day, every day. It’s almost like taking medication every day that causes hair loss, day in day out for years and years. If this is the case it seems to be reflected in the amount of hair loss occurrences in the Western World, correlating with a diet and lifestyle that affects hormonal balance and liver health.
But Wait, not all Westerners Have Hair LossSo why do some people suffer from hair loss while others don’t, despite following similar diets? It’s likely that (based on natural variation) some people are lucky enough to have strong or large livers and therefore don’t experience visible affects of the hormonal surging as quickly as others. On the other hand people with smaller, weaker or overworked livers would experience the visible symptoms of hormonal surges much faster. On the other other hand (from the arm of the guy standing next to the first guy) it’s quite possible that another hormonally influential organ – the brain – is the more important variable in the equation. If some people have genetically inherited strong or large livers, they are likely to be able to “deal with” large hormone spikes better than people with weaker or smaller livers. So it’s possible, based on the hormone input hypothesis that liver strength and/or size are actually the genetic determining factors in hair loss levels.
There May be More to it Than That…Let’s take this hypothesis a step further. If the liver deals with hormone inputs and hormones are produced to deal with blood sugar increases, what if we add a third input – stress. Let’s examine acne sufferers (another extremely common condition affected by hormones and diet). Certain tribal people in Papua New Guinea who only eat raw unrefined organic food (no sugars or grains), rarely if ever experience acne. In fact, and correct me if I’m wrong, they also tend to have thick shiny hair well into middle age.
The Kitava Study from 1989, which studied tribes in Papua New Guinea… …discovered that these societies had no stroke, heart disease, diabetes or hypertension. NaturalNutmeg.comThese tribal people who don’t have TV or Internet also have far fewer mental inputs compared with us Westerners – less media consumption and less information consumption – in 2008 it was estimated that Americans consume approximately 36 gigabytes of information per day through Internet, television and other forms of media! The outcome for the tribal people is most likely less mental stress.
Overall, from 1980 to 2008, the number of bytes we consume has increased 6 percent each year, the researchers said, adding up to a 350 percent increase over 28 years. At this rate, it won’t be long before we’re marveling at the next level of bytes: yottabytes. NY TimesFrom my personal experience and from observing others who have suffered from acne and hair loss, stress is almost certainly a major factor in both. People who live in Western society are also often marketed junk foods wherever they go and succumb to the marketing messages due to a lesser ability to resist as a result of stress. If we’re stressed at work we buy chocolate bars and fizzy drinks. If we’re stressed out in general or short on time we buy quick satisfying foods like Chinese takeaway and pizza. More work = more stress = more money = less time = spend more on consumable solutions like Rogaine, rather than properly treating the underlying cause. This may benefit the bubbled economy but it doesn’t benefit our health, or arguably our long-term wellbeing. Acne and/or hair loss sufferers tend to both be stressed and consume processed foods often.
An all encompassing hypothesisStress and anxiety cause spikes in adrenaline and androgen hormones. Processed foods cause spikes in insulin and androgen hormones. On top of this some people have above average testosterone and/or DHT levels (whether due to genetics or perhaps due to psychosomatic reasons). Finally, some people may have genetically inherited weaker or smaller livers — or weakened livers due to years of drinking, taking medication or following poor diets. So we have four major contributing factors to hair loss (all relating to the liver). It’s likely that an individual doesn’t need problematic levels of all four of these problems, but perhaps just two. For examples:
- Average Western diet + high stress levels = acne as teenager, hair loss as adult
- High stress levels + weak liver – clean diet = acne as teenager, hair loss as adult