So in my late 20s I discovered that I like drinking tea, and proceeded over the next 5-6 years to become a tea connoisseur – I moved through the different teas till I decided upon Earl Grey, English Breakfast and a variety of interesting loose leaf teas. (Drinking bagged teas is a bit like the coffee-drinker’s instant tea – just not as good as the real thing 😉 haha) I hung about T2 stores and bought myself fancy vintage teacups and teapots – quite a nice collection.
And then my hair started falling out.
Not like in clumps or anything, but decidedly falling more. And more. I’d brush my hair, pull the hair out of the brush, roll it into a ball, brush it again, get more, wash my hair in the shower, brush it before drying it, get another ball, and watch it fall and float about while hairdrying it. I’d end up most times with a palm-sized ball of hair. Frightening. Hairdressers started mentioning it (so I stopped getting cuts). One lady showed me very clearly – she brushed it through, cleaned the brush, then swiped it through my hair and got about 10 hairs. Emptied the brush. Did it again. Got the same result. Again, again, again. So much hair. I was having a heart attack. Was I going to end up bald??
There’s something about being a woman and worrying you are losing all your hair. It’s a big part of our style. Our personality. Our identity.
So I needed to figure out what was going on. In my last post on this topic, I detailed how I went through the process of working out what was wrong with me, and ended up making a big link to my hair and my low Ferritin levels.
But the second part of the equation was my avid tea-drinking.
Connection? Extremely likely. Definite.
Basically, if you are having issues with hair falling, you need to stop drinking tea because the Tannins in the tea block your body from absorbing nutrients in any food that is in your stomach at the same time.
Or at least drink tea at the right times (ie on an empty stomach between meals).
Shocker huh? Was to me, too. All my lovely teacups. (oh wait, all my lovely hair.. hmm)
I took a snip of my hair and sent it away with a chunk of money to the USA where they duly tested it and sent me back a 20-page document about myself and my body. And basically, besides the Ferritin, I wasn’t significantly low in any one area, I was low in ALL areas. Meaning that the problem wasn’t my diet or any particular nutrient that was missing, but that my body was having a problem absorbing the nutrients that were passing through.
The most likely culpit? My 4-6 cups of tea a day. My English Breakfast with my morning eggs and spinach. My mid-morning tea and nuts/crackers. My lunchtime tea and coleslaw. My after-work 2 cups on the balcony. My late-night cup/s before bed. Sigh. Basically, whenever I was eating anything, nutrient dense or nutrient poor, I was drinking tea as well. Oh how I loved my tea. Sigh.
So I stopped drinking tea. At first it was really hard and I craved it. It did help that my first son had quite bad colic and not drinking tea made a positive difference to his nightly screaming fits. I started drinking chamomile tea with milk and sugar, which I still drink to this day and love.. although I only have 1-2 cups a day generally. (Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) I still have a cup of real tea now and then, but I’m deliberate about not drinking white, green or black tea when I’m eating a healthy meal that I want nutrients from.
Another option, which I used when I first stopped drinking tea, was to remove most of the tannins. When you pour the water into the tea, you swish it around for 20-30 seconds (the tannins come out of the tea right at the start – you might be able to see a film on top of the water – and then you empty the cup, put the teabag back in, and brew it again. You have to let it brew a little longer to get back the taste you threw out at the start, but it’s usually got plenty of flavour left in it. I got tired of doing this and just switched to something else.
And over time, my hair loss has slowed. And my recent blood tests showed that my levels in a lot of areas have returned to normal levels, which is heartening. Except my Ferritin, which I am now supplementing to get up to normal, in hopes that my hair strength and strand thickness will improve again.
Hope this helps! x
Repeat After Me: Your own body needs some care and attention now and then, even if it means giving up some treats you love.