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View Full Version : How long can you go without eating before you suffer hair fall/loss?



glitterbug
September 28th, 2013, 07:10 AM
OK, I am not going to be not eating, I am talking about people who do eat but very little, and those who go without food for the majority of the days. Although they take multivitamins etc. and another scenario is about people who do not eat at all.

How long can a person do this, before they start losing hair?

NoRush
September 28th, 2013, 07:38 AM
It depends on the general state of health of the individual to begin with, but heavy hair loss will happen as soon as the body starts to run out of nutrients and as such has no "left over" protein to build hair. It wouldn't take too long i think, maybe a few weeks of fasting if that. Fasting/extreme low calorie diets are a bad idea because they simply do not provide enoguh nutrients to kep the body going and since hair is essentially waste product, like nails, it's one of the first things to go, also because after a considerable amount of weight loss temperature regulation becomes a problem, so alternate mechanisms have to be activated, enter lanugo... And so on, I could write on for hours... XD

Firefox7275
September 28th, 2013, 07:53 AM
It's individual, different people will start to get negative effects at different points. It's possibly never been formally studied, wouldn't be the most ethical piece of research.

Maktub
September 28th, 2013, 08:19 AM
I think any stress on the body can cause hair loss, physical or psychological.
Not eating of course also cause nutrient deficiencies in very short time, but the mere stress of it can cause some sudden shedding.
Hair is always growing, so if the roots lack nutrient, it will either slow or weaken the growing hair at the root, or lead to shedding. It might not show right away, because the hair fragility might show only later when the hair is longer (breaking, splits, etc. at that place on the hair).

So I don't think it would take very long !

Audhumla
September 28th, 2013, 02:43 PM
I used to be anorexic. I suffered for a few years and at one point I went two weeks without eating or drinking except for 50mL of water a day and some days I'd take vitamin tablets (zinc a kelp I think and sometimes some emu oil. I didn't really think it would help or have any logical reason for taking them.) The rest of the time I was just not eating anything for 3 days at a time and then if I felt like I was going to pass out or something I'd eat the next day and then the day after that would be the start of another 1-5day not eating period.

My hair did definitely fall out. I've still got a widow's peak and a high forehead that I'm somewhat convinced started in that time about 6'ish years ago and it ended about . . . 2 or 3 years ago I guess. Really my eating disorder stopped because I didn't want to have bad skin and thin hair anymore and the main thing that has kept me from relapsing is my hair and helping it grow. So I kind of have you guys to thank :p

As for how long it took me for it to start falling out in my opinion it's more about nutrition. It's not really about calories it's more about how serious your vitamin deficiencies are in my experience. If you "don't eat" which for most people means having soup or smoothies or juice or something or have a sandwich here and there and then go back to a healthy diet in a few days or even a little longer and weren't malnourished beforehand then your hair probably wouldn't suffer that much. It's not healthy and I could derail the thread talking about all the side effects of not eating but being realistic eating a bit less in the short term say if you've had oral surgery (like I had a few days ago to have a wisdom tooth out meaning I can't eat very much and it's all mushy food) won't cause the biggest shed of your life. It might increase your shed by a few hairs but nothing major.

I can say I didn't notice any difference when I had my eating disorder between the times that I didn't eat and took various vitamin pills and the times I just didn't have anything. My hair had the same high shed/thinning with both and obviously even if I went back to eating for a week it didn't really help because there were other parts of my body that needed the vitamins and minerals and I was pretty much malnourished the whole time.
That would be my summary I guess. If you eat normally for years and then have an off week it's not so bad but if every second week you're in some kind of fast or huge restriction then it _will_ affect you and no amount of vitamin pills or eating ok the other half of the time will stop that. You have to remember that your body will prioritise your internal organ function over hair growth so if you get into any situation where you're depriving your body of nutrients your hair and nails and skin will be the first to suffer and the most obvious and if you have got yourself into a state where you're malnourished you can't just snap your fingers and take a magic pill and get better. You have to commit to healthy eating and slowly over time your body will get better and your hair will start to grow again and shed less.

Also since I feel it's related I now use an awesome site to make sure I get all my nutrients. It's a section on the SELF magazine site called "Nutrition Data" and you can sign up for free and enter all your food for the day and it tells you what nutrients you're getting and if you're lacking any etc. You can also set your own vitamin/mineral RDI values if you know you have different needs or it has a calculator for you I believe. It does show you calories but they are by no means the focus of the information it gives you.
Anyway here's a link http://nutritiondata.self.com/
Eat healthy everyone! It's the best thing you'll ever do for yourself (and your hair :p )

PetuniaBlossom
September 28th, 2013, 03:13 PM
Thanks for your post, Audhumla. I wish it was required reading for anyone with anorexic tendencies. You are obviously bright, and generous and courageous for sharing your story. I'm so glad you've recovered and wish you many happy, healthy years of good eating and gorgeous hair!

Audhumla
September 28th, 2013, 03:18 PM
Thanks for your post, Audhumla. I wish it was required reading for anyone with anorexic tendencies. You are obviously bright, and generous and courageous for sharing your story. I'm so glad you've recovered and wish you many happy, healthy years of good eating and gorgeous hair!
Thanks :)
Just tryin' to spread the learnin'

Nadine <3
September 28th, 2013, 03:20 PM
Well, I was homeless at a time in my life. I went days at a time without eating and my hair never fell out. When I did get to eat, my stomach couldn't handle it and most or all of it came back up...I think it just depends on the person. My hair was fine.

jacqueline101
September 28th, 2013, 06:12 PM
I had a friend tell me in highschool when she was starving herself to lose weight that her doctor told her it would start taking a toll on her in 72 hrs she wouldn't drink water this was in the summer heat. I know this is different then just hair issues but since water is good for hair I'd say it would start to maybe not on the outside but on the inside feel the difference.

biogirl87
September 29th, 2013, 12:44 AM
It depends on the general state of health of the individual to begin with, but heavy hair loss will happen as soon as the body starts to run out of nutrients and as such has no "left over" protein to build hair. It wouldn't take too long i think, maybe a few weeks of fasting if that. Fasting/extreme low calorie diets are a bad idea because they simply do not provide enoguh nutrients to kep the body going and since hair is essentially waste product, like nails, it's one of the first things to go, also because after a considerable amount of weight loss temperature regulation becomes a problem, so alternate mechanisms have to be activated, enter lanugo... And so on, I could write on for hours... XDNoRush, one part of your post really struck me and I felt I needed to comment on that. The part of your post I felt I needed to comment on is the part that I bolded. While I agree that extreme low calorie diets done with little knowledge or information are a bad idea in general, fasting generally tends to not be a bad idea if it is done correctly (in a Biblical way). When done in a Biblical way, following Biblical principles, letting God guide you in fasting, fasting can be beneficial for you. I know several people for whom regular times of fasting have been beneficial. One of them has actually been able to gain weight after fasting and this person does both short-term fasting and up to twenty-one fasting on a regular basis. I should also mention that fasting is not starvation. When people have times of proper, regular fasting, the times that they don't spend preparing and eating meals are the times they spend in prayer with God. As far as I know, this is the only proper way of true fasting and to my knowledge all other fasting (as some people may call it) is just people depriving themselves of certain foods. I would agree that depriving your body (using your in a general sense here, not meaning your body specifically) of certain foods for long periods of time is a bad idea.

kaydana
September 29th, 2013, 03:33 AM
NoRush, one part of your post really struck me and I felt I needed to comment on that. The part of your post I felt I needed to comment on is the part that I bolded. While I agree that extreme low calorie diets done with little knowledge or information are a bad idea in general, fasting generally tends to not be a bad idea if it is done correctly (in a Biblical way). When done in a Biblical way, following Biblical principles, letting God guide you in fasting, fasting can be beneficial for you. I know several people for whom regular times of fasting have been beneficial. One of them has actually been able to gain weight after fasting and this person does both short-term fasting and up to twenty-one fasting on a regular basis. I should also mention that fasting is not starvation. When people have times of proper, regular fasting, the times that they don't spend preparing and eating meals are the times they spend in prayer with God. As far as I know, this is the only proper way of true fasting and to my knowledge all other fasting (as some people may call it) is just people depriving themselves of certain foods. I would agree that depriving your body (using your in a general sense here, not meaning your body specifically) of certain foods for long periods of time is a bad idea.

Religion does not have exclusive rights to the word "fasting". There is no "as some people may call it", if people are abstaining from food for a period of time, no matter what the reason, they are fasting. You can fast for religious reasons, political reasons, medical reasons, health, weight loss... religion is only one of many reasons for fasting

Audhumla
September 29th, 2013, 03:43 AM
Religion does not have exclusive rights to the word "fasting". There is no "as some people may call it", if people are abstaining from food for a period of time, no matter what the reason, they are fasting. You can fast for religious reasons, political reasons, medical reasons, health, weight loss... religion is only one of many reasons for fasting
Agreed. I'm sure the word and idea of fasting has a specific meaning and set of rules in a variety of different religions but it isn't a religious term that other people are somehow misappropriating. In a general sense it just means restricting food intake.

Andeee
September 29th, 2013, 04:57 AM
I agree with Audhumla and kaydana. Ayurveda (much older than the Judeo-Christian bible) has different fasts for spiritual and physical reasons (often interconnected) depending on your constitutional type.