Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is a form of scarring alopecia - a type of irreversible hair loss. Its causes are not yet known, but according to the Cicatricial Alopecia Research Foundation (CARF) it can be attributed to an inflammatory process induced by genetic or environmental factors. This inflammatory process occurs below the surface of the skin and destroys the hair follicle, resulting in permanent hair loss. Inflammation is the way our body responds to an infection or trauma and it does so through the immune systems. These systems use specialized immune cells that produce chemical messengers known as cytokines, which allow the cells to communicate with each other and promote inflammation. In the case of alopecia, white blood cells known as lymphocytes attack the cells in the hair follicles causing hair loss.
Now by the title, you may be asking what does lifestyle have to do with alopecia? Well my Dear Watson, I believe the two go hand in hand. The whole point is to keep the inflammation at bay, so why feed your body things that can potentially aggravate inflammation? In my case, the inflammation is on my scalp. We should do our body a favour and nourish it from the inside out - giving it good fuel so we can function at our best.
Now guys there is no cure for scarring alopecia as of yet (fingers crossed) and I’m not saying that IF you follow these tips you're gonna wake up with hair like Rapunzel, but taking care of yourself is vital for good health and well-being. It aids in maintaining a healthy weight, improves our mood, keeps our heart happy and boosts our energy levels. It's for these reasons that I wanted to share with you three simple things I’ve implemented into my lifestyle to help combat my inflammation and improve my overall health.
1. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
These foods are examples of what you can include in your meals as they have wonderful characteristics and are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and healthy fats. Compounds like antioxidants, healthy (unsaturated) fats, and vitamins help reduce inflammation in our body through a variety of complex metabolic pathways. The internet has a ton of resources and tasty recipes you can try to help get you on track.
Vegetables: Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, lettuce
Fruits: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
Fatty Fish: Salmon, herring, mackerel
Nuts/Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Spices: Turmeric, cinnamon etc.
2. Foods to Avoid
This may take some finessing, especially if your current diet is full of these types of foods, so start small. I know these things are convenient especially on the go or when you don’t feel like cooking, but they are high in sugars, sodium and saturated fats, so if you can limit these items or learn to make your own where you can control the sugar, salts and fats, I bet your body will thank you for it.
Pops and other sugary drinks
Frozen desserts eg. ice creams, pies, frozen cakes, etc.
Frozen Prepared Meals
Baked Goodies eg. cakes, donuts and high sugar snacks
Sometimes our body just needs a reset and a detox may be an option. Our liver and kidneys are responsible for detoxifying our bodies, but an unhealthy lifestyle can affect these organs and slow down their functions. Detoxing the body of these unhealthy habits, be it, overconsumption of junk food, lack of physical activity, smoking, etc., can help reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the molecules responsible for enhancing inflammation, and improve your metabolism, giving you more energy. I completed a 12-day detox that I found helpful, but if you don't want to be that extreme you can give these options a go:
Get more sleep
Drink more water
Reduce sugar and salt intake
By no means am I suggesting that the inflammation you may be experiencing will suddenly disappear by eating more greens, but from my personal experience these small changes have helped to reduce the frequency of my flare ups on my scalp. We only get one body so it’s key we treat it right. I eat well most of the time while leaving room for treats as I'm not in the business of depriving myself. I try to find ways to be more active even if it’s a walk around the block, committing to a work out twice a week, drinking lots of water and ensuring I get rest. You don't have to do this all at once, but starting with even one thing can make a difference.
I hope this helps and please comment below if you have any other helpful suggestions.