A doctor warned yesterday that extreme diets may result in substantial hair loss.
According to Lin Chao-chi (林兆啟), a doctor of family medicine at Shu-tien Memorial Hospital, many women try to lose weight through extreme diets, but often suffer the consequences.
Lin said "crash diets" may lead to malnutrition and dystrophy, one of the consequences of which is hair loss.
He said normal hair follicles have a life span of between three and seven years, but that insufficient nutrition can have a devastating effect, leading to significant hair loss. Hair loss usually occurs two to three months after patients adopt an extreme diet, by which time as much as 30 percent of their hair follicles could be damaged.
He said that a 28-year-old patient of his had tried to lose weight by cutting out meat and foods that contained amylum, a complex carbohydrate found chiefly in seeds, fruits, tubers, roots and stem pith of plants, but succeeded only in seriously damaging her hair.
"When our nutrition intake is limited and insufficient, our body will deliver nutrition to important organs such as the brain and heart first, and our hair and skin may obtain very little necessary nutrition," he said.
Carbohydrates, protein and fat intakes are still necessary when dieting, he said.
Behavioral change, healthy dietary control and exercise remain the best weight loss methods, he said, adding that prescription drugs should be used only as a last resort.