Jun 26, 2013

DISCUSSION: Diabetes and Hair


I know you have heard the expression "Health Over Hair" quite a  bit lately. There are several reasons that you should focus on overall health instead of healthy hair. The main reason is because if you focus on the former, it will usually make the latter so much easier to obtain. However, today's discussion focuses specifically on how diabetes management affects natural hair.

A quick biology lesson: When you eat, your body tries to convert as much of the food as possible into sugar so that it can be used for energy. The body uses a hormone called insulin to convert sugar to usable energy. This is how you produce energy to blink, breathe, and shake a tail feather. Unused sugar is usually stored as fat or filtered out of the bloodstream by the kidneys.

Diabetes (or sugarthe sugar, or sugar diabetes) is the body's inability to regulate the amount of glucose (the scientific name for sugar) in the bloodstream. When someone is diabetic, there's a kink in the process above. Either the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the insulin doesn't work well enough to convert the glucose to energy and get it out of the bloodstream. So the glucose has nowhere to go. It just sits in the bloodstream and the body's kidneys work overtime to bring the glucose levels down to normal. Diabetics have to be cautious of what they eat because insulin levels (and blood glucose levels) aren't regulated. Too much sugar and the kidneys work overtime to filter the blood. Too little sugar and the body doesn't have the energy to carry out the basic functions of life.

But what does this have to do with my hair?

Ok, so now that the basic biology lesson is over, here is how it affects your hair. When your blood sugar runs higher than normal, you stress out your kidneys and your kidneys stress out everything else. One of the ways your kidneys filter excess glucose from the bloodstream is through urine. But the more glucose there is to filter, the more urine your body has to produce. And producing urine takes.... WATER.

Do you see where this is going now? The more urine you need to produce to filter out excess glucose, the more water is required to leave your body. And because regulating blood sugar is more important that most functions, the body will use water resources to get it done. And that's the way it's supposed to be. And if you're not good at prioritizing health over hair, don't worry. Your body does that for you. It doesn't allow water to nourish your hair and scalp and ignore blood glucose. You are built to prioritize important functions like blood sugar regulation over less important things like shiny, moisturized hair.

If you are natural and diabetic:

  • Make regular visits to your physician and monitor your blood glucose levels.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • If you are overweight, shedding a few pounds can really help manage blood sugar.
  • No matter your weight, exercise can help regulate blood sugar.
  • Drink plenty of water.

So there you have it. Healthy hair is not less important than overall health. It's actually a part of overall health.   Whether you're a diagnosed diabetic or you just have a tendency to binge on cupcakes and candy bars... make sure sugar isn't the causing you hair problems. It's important that you take care of your entire self; because exhausted kidneys and shiny, bouncy curls just don't go well together.

Do you have diabetes and natural hair? Do you have ANY health condition that impacts your natural hair care? Leave a comment below.
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