Nutritional Intervention Reverses Damage to Hair and Skin

The following study alludes to what can be accomplished for hair growth and hair loss prevention simply using dietary modifications, phytonutrients and raw juices. Although a small study, it reinforces what we’ve been saying and the feedback we’ve been recieving for years, and doesn’t account for the additional measures beyond phytonutrients and diet that our treatment protocols for men and women do.
      Our recommendation for an optimal hair growth diet would be consistent with the recommendations in this study, with the addition of generous amounts of healthy fats, i.e. Fish Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Nutritional Intervention Reverses Damage to Hair and Skin
Caused by Aging and Genetic Predispositions by Gary Null, Ph.D., and Martin Feldman, M.D.
Winter 2006/Spring 2007

ABSTRACT
This six-month study is a part of a larger, ongoing intervention study that has evaluated the effect of multiple lifestyle factors—nutrition, exercise, stress management, attitude and personal environment—on objective measures of functioning (weight, blood pressure cholesterol levels, hormone levels) and overall wellness.

In this leg of the study, we focused on the effect of lifestyle changes on hair and skin, which are observable indicators of the aging process, and on various aspects of physical, mental and energy functioning. Participants who entered the study had problems with their hair, skin or both.

Specific goals of the study were to induce new hair growth in bald areas, slow thinning of hair and reverse graying. These problems are caused by the aging process and/or genetic predispositions. The attempt to overcome genetic limitations was a new challenge for the intervention. For skin, the goal was to reverse or improve the effects of sun damage and premature aging of the skin. Processes that cause aging include: damage to DNA from oxidative stress and free radicals; glycation, which creates a cross-linking of proteins and sugars that damage skin; and inflammatory processes.

We included all dietary and exercise requirements of the previous study (which did not show overall improvements in hair and skin texture, despite other worthwhile life experience improvements), but in addition, included 2-10 times the normal dietary intake of phytonutrients, in the form of fresh fruits and vegetable juices or concentrated fruit or vegetable powders. We had hypothesized that the body must be saturated with phytonutrients to prevent damage to DNA and actually repair it, leading to improvements in hair and skin. The question was whether people can reach the level of compensation needed to reduce system damage, reverse DNA damage and exceed genetic limitations causing loss of hair or graying.

The nutritional protocols required a low-fat, high complex carbohydrate diet that was primarily vegetarian. The diet also eliminated foods and beverages that have documented negative health effects.

INTRODUCTION
Conventional medicine focuses on treating specific symptoms and diseases after a breakdown in healthy body functioning has occurred. In contrast, our goal was to improve the condition of hair and skin, which are observable indicators of the aging process, and to optimize physical and mental functioning, in addition to improving overall wellness and quality of life. This intervention studied the effects of changes in five lifestyle components—nutrition, physical activity, stress management, attitude and personal environment. The measurements were for the quality of a person’s skin and hair. The length of the study was 6 months.

MATERIALS AND METHODS
138 participants completed all aspects of the Hair and Skin Study. We created a comprehensive rating scale. Each participant was required to maintain a weekly journal. We also filmed the participants at the beginning and at the conclusion of the study. The rating scale provided for five outcomes: worse, unchanged, improved, slightly improved or much improved.

Every other week there was a study group meeting for the participants which consisted of a lecture, information about exercise, the specifics of diet, stress management, meditation and supplementation and addressing individual questions and concerns. Study participants:

Number of people at the onset: 368
Number that completed the study: 138
Drop out rate 54.3%
10.32% continued on an additional 3 months (38 people)

The criterion age and hair loss parameters were as follows: all people, 22 years old to 80 years old, including balding, thinning or graying hair for at least seven years. This was to exclude singular life events such as chemotherapy, infection, or stress, which could precipitate hair loss, but with the possibility of regrowth.

We had each person integrate the following 6 components into their lifestyle:

  1. Exercise
  2. Stress management techniques
  3. Self actualization leading to self empowerment
  4. Nutrition: A live foods diet
  5. Environmental hygiene

ADHERENCE
More than 90% of study participants felt that the thorough environmental overhauls were too stressful to consider at the time of the study.

For those participants who addressed every area of the protocol there were statistically significant improvements.

RESULTS
138 participants completed all aspects of the Hair and Skin Study. Participants scored improvements in 20 separate areas of hair and skin condition. We also found improvements in many aspects of mental and physical functioning. Participants rated each outcome measure as worse, unchanged, slightly improved, improved, or much improved. In this particular study, more of the ratings in each of eight sample measurements fell into the “slightly improved” and “improved” categories, than in any other category. Both men and women rated similar positive outcomes, as did participants both below and above (and including )the age of 55.

The findings of our present study augment the results of the prior lifestyle intervention that we conducted. The prior research found improvements in objective measures of bodily functioning, including weight, impedance for body fat, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The vast majority of participants results showed improvements in energy as well as overall sense of well being.

Hair and skin results.The ratings documented improvements in measures of hair, facial skin, body skin and nails. The most frequently improved hair measures were thinning of hair (69.8%) and hair texture (66.9%). Also improved were luster of hair (65.4%), balding (61.0%), graying of hair (58.3%), hair loss per day/week (57.3%) and darkening of hair (52.6%). The skin measures improved most often were skin texture (86.7%) and skin tone (81.2%). Also improved were wrinkles (63.0%), blemishes (61.4%) and eyelids (37.4%).

Physical, mental and energy results.The ratings showed a high frequency of improvement in mental capabilities and energy status. Overall energy function was improved in 91.5% of participants; overall mental function was improved in 82.9%.

Participants age 55 and older did well with the protocols, scoring improvements in hair, skin and functioning. However, the mean scores of younger participants (under age 55) were significantly better than those of older people in 11 of 42 measures of functioning. Similarly, in a comparison of male and female participants, the mean scores of women were significantly better than men’s in 12 of 42 measures.

DISCUSSION
For those in the study who participated in some areas of the of the protocol, but not all of the areas, there were measurable reported benefits, such as improving inflammatory conditions, getting better sleep, having more energy, better digestion, and less pain. We believe that a multifactorial approach is crucial to ameliorating damage to hair and skin. We also realize this comprehensive approach requires a substantial discipline and a willingness to surrender some unhealthy comforts. Hence the need for more time and input on the self empowerment portion of the protocol.

The feedback we received was that the better people felt about themselves the easier it was to sustain these rather severe lifestyle and behavioral changes. We questioned more than 100 of the participants who left the study. Overwhelmingly they complained that they did not have the discipline, the self confidence, or personal support system to see this through. Therefore, our recommendation would be to work least 3 months strictly and solely upon improving self esteem, gaining confidence, overcoming fear and developing strength of character. The final point to be made is that we have kept in contact for the past 6 months with most of the people who finished the study. They are continuing and seeing more improvements in all areas and are looking forward to the next health support group. Despite the psychological hurdles, the protocols are safe, nontoxic interventions that improve hair and skin status and overall wellness at far less cost than the treatments preferred by conventional medicine, including pharmaceuticals, plastic surgery and other types of surgery.

Editor’s note
      We concur with all the recommendations in this sudy (although his supplement choices, though helpful could clearly better and more specifically target Androgenetic Alopecia) with the exception of his exercise recommendations. He recommends 45 plus minutes a day of aerobic exercise and weightlifting, targeting all major muscle groups, 6 days a week. This, in our opinion clearly constitutes overtraining, and could serve to undermine his intervention by predisposing to inflammation, weakened immune function, sleep disturbances and depression. A higher percentage of participants would have no doubt completed the study had the recommended exercise regime been more reasonable. A much more effective exercise component for fat reduction, muscle anabolism, cardiovascular function and well being would look like weight training major muscle groups 2 times a week, and doing a short duration sprint based cardio 4 or so times a week.