Fountain of Youth’s Contribution To Hair Growth & Anti-Aging

Shamila Gupta Rawal, MD, a board-certified otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon, specializes in the management of hair loss and rejuvenation of the face and neck at The Rawal Institute for Hair Restoration and Aesthetic Medicine. Dr. Rawal is the only hair restoration surgeon providing comprehensive surgical and non-surgical treatment for all types of hair loss in Madison, Wisconsin, with an expansive patient base that travels from coast to coast. Haute Beauty sits down with Dr. Shamila Rawal to discuss the importance of healthy habits for hair growth and anti-aging, including supplements. 

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The Fountain of Youth resides within us

For millennia, humans have sought out the mythical Fountain of Youth, a source of healing, rejuvenation, and beauty.  While no such singular source has ever been found, there are recurrent themes in the activities and environments of those blessed with longevity and seemingly perpetual youth. Positive lifestyle habits, such as daily physical activity, consumption of a well-balanced, non-restrictive diet, avoidance of smoking, stress reduction, and adequate sleep are the cornerstones of lifelong anti-aging efforts, as are activities directed toward reduction of inflammation caused by illness and the environment. Not only will these habits contribute to the anti-aging of your skin, but also promote strong, healthy hair growth.

Physical activity one step at a time

Sedentary lifestyles are linked to increased and persistent inflammation in the body and thus contribute to illness and death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and mental illness, among others. Physical activity boosts our circulating endorphins and natural anti-inflammatory molecules, to help keep oxidative damage from our body’s metabolic processes in check. Experts agree that a good measure of adequate physical activity is about 10,000 steps daily.  While this seems like a lot, investment in a simple pedometer or wrist-worn fitness tracker can help you develop an awareness of just how easy it is to complete your steps daily.

Water - nature’s nectar of youth

Throughout our body, our tissues rely on appropriate hydration to function optimally. Skin, our largest organ system, relies on hydration to maintain its elasticity and ability to create a barrier against environmental insults.  When we are dehydrated, our skin weakens, and microscopic channels open to allow the external environment in. This leads to inflammation and aging of our skin, manifesting as wrinkles, uneven tone, and sagging. Experts have recommended women meet a daily requirement of 2.7L or 11.5 cups of water daily, while men should aim for 3.7L or 15.5 cups of water daily. Getting to this goal can take some time, so find a glass or stainless-steel refillable water bottle with volume measurements printed outside, and allow yourself a few days to acclimate to this recommended volume.

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Balance is best

What we eat has a huge impact on aging and hair growth, since we are supplying our tissues with nutrients and building blocks to help maintain optimal function. Be sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables of all the colors of the rainbow in your diet, as well as lean proteins from several sources, and make a concentrated effort to cut out processed and high-sugar foods, which can lead to further inflammation.  In my practice, I recommend adding a supplement to maintain Vitamin D stores, support thyroid function, reduce the impact of stress hormones on cellular function, and provide cellular building blocks, such as amino acids, biotin, and collagen.  Nutrafol is one such supplement with which I have had a very good experience, but there are others available on the market as well.  I encourage you to seek your doctor’s advice before beginning any new diet, exercise program or supplementation regimen.

Rest and repair

Finally, sleep is one of the most important activities we can incorporate into our daily lifestyles, to heal, renew and strengthen our skin and hair.  While sleep is considered a period of rest, our body is actually quite active during this time, working hard to remove the toxic byproducts of metabolism which have accumulated throughout the day and to repair injuries and grow new cells. Without this period of cleansing and repair, the buildup of these toxic byproducts of metabolism results in oxidative damage to all types of tissues, raising inflammation levels and manifesting as poor hair growth and sallow skin. Aim to get between 7-8 hours of sleep nightly, and practice maintaining a regular schedule, that persists throughout the weekend.  Additionally, avoidance of blue-light activities (TV, smartphone, etc) in the two hours before bedtime helps to relax brain activity in anticipation of sleep.  The more your body starts to expect sleep and waking at the same times each day, the more restful your sleep will become between “lights-off” and “lights-on”.

Perhaps the Fountain of Youth will forever remain hidden in the land of myth, but anti-aging is not an elusive goal and can be accomplished anywhere, by anyone. Incorporation of the above lifestyle habits requires commitment, patience, and persistence, but will be rewarded with youthful skin and hair that can be enjoyed for many years to come.

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