Clothes and make up may allow middle-aged to look like they’re still in their 20s, but one of the most effective ways is to cover up graying hair. Here are some of the best ways to prevent premature graying and keep your hair looking healthy and young.
For men, graying begins between 30 and 34 and for women between 35 and 39. It is just a natural part of aging. Hair color is determined by pigment produced by melanin cells inside hair follicles. When melanin cells lose their ability to produce pigment, hair turns gray.
Graying is hereditary. If both parents had gray hair early, then the children are likely to have received that genetic trait. It remains unclear, whether passed down from the mother’s side or the father’s side. Generally, graying begins on the sides and spreads to the pate and back of the head. Stress and a lack of proper nutrition can also cause premature graying.
Gray hair is associated with the elderly, but many young people have naturally gray hair. Hair goes gray in a process that is independent of the aging of the body; it is the result of the aging of pigment cells of certain hair follicles.
When it comes to graying, the single most important contributing factor is genetics. If you’re prematurely gray, it is highly likely that someone in the family had a similar experience. Prolonged stress can also cause hair to turn gray by blocking nutrients from reaching hair or temporarily reducing melanin levels.
Gray hair is not necessarily an indicator of rapid aging, but it can be a sign that something is wrong with one’s health. Prematurely gray hair may be associated with diabetes, anemia and thyroid-related diseases. These illnesses can result in dysfunctional production of melanin or hormonal imbalances by disrupting the pituitary gland. Therefore, someone in their 20s who develops an unusually large amount of gray hair, with no history of it in the family, should have a medical checkup.
Excluding hereditary factors, the greatest cause of graying hair is stress. Stress causes peripheral blood vessels to contract, leading to decreased blood circulation. This in turn hinders the ability of melanin cells to produce pigment and causes hair to gray. Excessive worrying and nervousness also cause our body to produce extra levels of adrenalin, which contracts blood vessels, making it difficult for oxygen and nutrients to reach hair follicles. Drinking or smoking does not help. Instead, try exercise, yoga, listening to music or any other hobby.
Frequent massaging of the scalp using a brush or fingers will stimulate blood circulation and reduce the rate of graying. Black foods or food rich in iron or zinc also help. It’s also important to eat enough protein, which forms the building blocks of hair. Black beans supply protein needed to produce hair. Black beans and sesame seeds not only soothe our eyes but also help prevent graying. The vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids found in black beans promote blood circulation and supply necessary nutrients to hair follicles. Seaweed and kelp also contain lots of iodine that helps in producing keratin to stimulate hair grow and prevents graying. Walnuts are rich in linolenic acid, which stimulates hair growth, and black sesame seeds have anti-aging qualities such as preventing graying and hair loss.
Don’t Pluck Out White Hairs, Experts Advise
Experts advise cutting, not pulling out, stray white hairs since plucking them out can lead to hair loss. Many people pluck gray hairs, but experts advise against it and say that cutting is less likely to cause damage to follicles.
Graying hair can be stressful for anyone, but even more so for young people, who are sensitive to even small signs of aging.
But scientists say the color change is a natural part of pigment cells’ aging that can occur relatively early in life. The emergence of gray hair is largely governed by genetics, and premature graying tends to run in families. Stress and poor nutrition may also be to blame.
Some 25-35 follicles come out of a pore on the scalp in our lifespan and a follicle lives for two to three years. Thus if a hair is plucked out, it cuts what might be called the pore’s productivity by up to three years, advancing the time of sparse follicle growth or baldness.
There is another reason not to pull out white hair. People think that once a white hair comes out of a pore, only white hair grows there. But, except for those in their 60s or older, that is not true. When people are under severe stress, suffer from a disease or become weak, they can have white hair temporarily and then black hair again.
Premature Graying of the Hair and Chinese Herbs
The first step in treating hair loss naturally is to improve Qi and Blood circulation to the head/scalp, as well as improve the quality of the Blood. Early intervention is the key to limiting hair loss and promoting hair re-growth; in other words, if we just began to notice hair loss last week a course of herbal therapy is not going to last as long as someone who has been slowly losing hair for years. Herbal tonic treatment can last 6 months or longer depending on the severity of the condition and the length of time that the condition has existed. Kidney Essence may have to be re-enforced throughout a lifetime for those who have genetic dispositions towards Kidney Deficiency.
Premature graying of the hair is also a key indication of Kidney Deficiency and tonic herbs such as fo-ti have long been utilized for graying of the hair. Many people are alarmed at losing hair or about graying prematurely and the impact on their outward appearance, but in Chinese medicine the whole body must thrive in order to have luscious strong healthy hair. Chinese medical theory dictates that beauty comes from inner wellness and it is not enough to simply apply herbs tonic and conditioners to the hair; one must strengthen the organ systems that insure blood circulation and nutrient delivery to the hair for lasting improvement. While Chinese herbs are no quick fix to hair loss, it is reassuring that addressing hair loss through Chinese medicine works towards true wellness, and is not just an attempt to gloss over what is likely a symptom of greater health imbalances.
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