Monday, November 8, 2010

The Healthy Hair Diet - Review

 What do you do about baldness?

This one may seem a bit different from the normal posts, but bear with me:   it is relevant and has lots of connection with the sort of diet and life principles that I tend to highlight here.   

The Healthy Hair Diet

The other day Danny contacted me to ask if I'd like to review his new book - The Healthy Hair Diet.  Now I've been reading Danny's blog for a while learning of how he had been seeking a valid and effective treatment for baldness.    I was interested in his research and recommendations so was happy to agree to review his new book on this blog.  He has been on quite a journey with stops at a carnivorous diet and also a paleo approach before he got here.

So what do you get?

THHD is sold as a pdf file, at 109 pages, 20 of which contain the 260 references which Danny uses to support the arguments he is making.  I used to be a bit ambivalent towards pdf books, finding paper easier to handle, but since getting an iPhone I've been uploading them into iBooks and reading them on the commute to work.

The 20 pages of references are pretty impressive - this is not just a quick file of plagiarised material he has dashed off to generate some cash - a lot work has gone into this.

So what is it about?

It is as it says on the cover - Danny is concerned with attaining and maintaining healthy hair through diet.   Now I am lucky in that I have not really started to lose my hair yet, but I know mates who have and I think you have 2 choices:  (a) shave it all off and carry on or (b) shave it all off and become depressed.

Danny talks about how he tried to address his premature balding with drugs, supplements and diet before his studies led him to certain conclusions about the causes of baldness and what to do about it.  Ultimately he sees baldness as a consequence - one of several - of a deranged metabolism caused by the usual suspects:  grains, (fructose) sugar and vegetable oils.  The effects of these on hormones coupled with systemic inflammation and stress can impact on hair loss:

Okay, so these foods cause health degeneration, but what does that have to do with your hair? Basically diet composition and hair are tied at the hip.9,10 Hormonal dysregulation, a nutrient-poor diet, excessive stress and low- grade inflammation all contribute to poor health, but guess what? They are all the key factors in the pathology of hair loss.8,11,12

The Prescription

Well on the basis of this position, you can guess what Danny's prescription is:  he wants you to sort out the causes of the metabolic problems.  Eliminate the damaging foods - mainly grains and sugar - and focus on taking in nutrient dense foods - meat and tubers - addressing inflammation and minimising stress.

I slipped the spuds in there didn't I?  Yes tubers!  If you have been following the "paleo" blogs you will have seen a fair discussion of spuds recently.  Stephan has had a masterful series on his blog and a few months ago Don at Primal Wisdom also addressed their use - see Primal Potatoes.   Robb Wolf also sees a role for tubers - sweet potatoes, yams, squash etc.

It is an interesting debate - some see the spud as totally off the menu: either as a nightshade or as something which fails the sharpstick test - others point out the empirical observation that many healthy people groups eat a lot of tubers or that we maintain  salivary glands that produce amylase, which has the the sole function of digesting we seem to be built with an ability to digest starch....  (grains with their nasty lectins are something else)

What do I think?

I enjoyed it and learned a few things.  If you have read much of the sort of material that I recommend or point to these sort of ideas might not be new to you.   Sleep, minimise stress, avoid poisonous stuff.

To be honest much of the diet prescription is pretty close to what Kurt Harris recommends.  He has also spoken about tubers  and how the key is to get rid of the elements that cause damage - vegetable oils, fructose and lectin grains rather than to seek to recapitulate a Palaeolithic past.

It is good to see Danny pull all this together though and his diagnosis of premature baldness as a metabolic issue related to insulin and leptin resistance, systemic inflammation and stress is new.  If this is the case, the diet and approach he recommends (with IF included) would be an appropriate reaction.

If you are going bald I'd say this is worth reading.  However, if you are also generally interested in the sort of issues that are discussed here - sorting our a deranged metabolism with all of its consequences (obesity or autoimmune issues) for example- then you would also benefit from the material in the book.

You can buy the book here

Or have a look at Danny's Quick Start Guide

1. Get Rid of Poisonous Food
2. Go Shopping
3. Get Cooking
4. Go To Sleep

The Healthy Hair Diet


Fred Hahn said...

You can't download the Quick Start Guide.

Chris said...

So I see - I'll get in touch with Danny....