By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Featured Columnist
There is nothing certain in life but death and taxes, right? Wrong. The other certainty is that somewhere along the way we're going to go gray. Yes, there are those famous exceptions everyone can name one but a99% of us will go gray at some point if we live long enough. Studies show that, by age 50, most of us are at least 50% gray. Some of us go gray a lot sooner. What's more some areas of the world --- such as India ---where premature gray was almost unkown are now starting to see 30 and 40 year olds with gray hair.
The quest for the cure to reverse gray hair is perhaps the Holy Grail of cosmetic science.
What Causes Gray Hair Anyway?
The scientific understanding of what causes our hair o gray has advanced a lot in the past 20 years. There are several theories.
One is that gray hair is caused by an excess of hydrogen peroxide in our bodies. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach. This theory suggest that we go gray because our bodies literally are getting bleached from the inside out.
Scientists from EM Arndt University of Greifswald in Germany have discovered that a compound triggered by exposure to ultraviolet rays called PC-KUS apparently reversing the loss of skin color in people suffering from vitiligo as well as people with gray hair. Their PC-KUS compound is proprietary and has yet to be introduced to the broader market.
Other theories of graying focus on something called NFR2. NFR2 boosts the effectiveness of genes that short-circuit the production of hydrogen peroxide in your body.
Curcumin and Cabbage Boost NFR2
Certain foods and habits boost NFR2 levels. One habit is exercise. the other is fasting. But two foods that help are cabbage and broccoli.
Cabbage and broccoli are two foods that scientists have found upregulate the production of NFR2. These foods contain sulfurophane which is why they smell.
Cabbage is a food I ate almost daily in my thirties and up to my mid-forties. Why did I stop? Tastes change. But, not too coincidentally, I also started getting too gray around the time cabbage exited from my weekly diet.
Cabbage Interferes with Iron Absorption?
There are contradictory information on cabbage's effect on iron levels in your body, sith some sources saying that it raises iron and others saying that it chelates --- removes --- iron.
Moreover, iron's role in the graying of your hair is complicated. Your body needs iron and copper to create melanin which is what gives your hair its natural color. Yet, too much iron causes gray hair. These reason is that high levels of iron are the main source of oxidative stress in your body, meaning it triggers the production of internal hydrogen peroxide.
Hence, too much iron causes gray hair.
From my experience, and review of my blood work which did show high levels of iron, I'm on the side of including cabbage in your diet My iron levels grew because I was eating too much meat and eggs , not because I was taking in too much Vitamin C from cabbage.
There's not a lot of clear science on the issue but there are personal anecdotes from people who successfully lowered their iron levels from eating cabbage. One case involved a man with hemochromatosis (dangerously high iron levels) who, on a tip from a chemist friend, reversed the condition by eating cabbage.