Whats with all the hair loss/brittleness/thinness/dryness?

So here's how the hair loss thing works. There is a natural cycle of cell death and new cell production throughout our bodies and that includes the hair follicles.

The condition of telogen effluvium is when a large amount of hair loss is noticeable and it can be traced to a severe stressful condition about 3 months prior. In those conditions the patient's hair cycle is essentially fast-forwarded to early follicle death, rather than experiencing the usual prolonged growth phase and resting phase.

This is one way in which patients may experience hair loss while they are in fact in recovery -- it is a delayed response to starvation because the normal follicle growth and renewal process is running about 3 months after the stressful starvation period occurred.

However, patients may also experience an elongated catagen phase (the regressive phase of the follicle) during their starvation period. In this situation, the hair is not aging and falling out as it should normally (about 100 odd hairs a day). And in these cases the apoptosis (natural cell death) that the catagen phase is supposed to induce is halted. The body simply doesn't have enough energy to have the cells go through their natural process.

As soon as you begin refeeding, then the process of having the follicle die and the hair fall out can now proceed and there is a back log. In these cases you may have noticed your hair was becoming increasingly brittle and opaque during the restriction phase of your condition, but did not really note much increased hair loss (if any).

While of course it is distressing, it is not a permanent state and new healthy hair will replace the old in fairly short order.

The condition of hair is directly attributable to nutritional status and that is likely why "healthy-looking" hair is important in most societies as it reflects the evolutionary value of the individual as a mate.

If you want healthy-looking hair, then pursue your health with adequate re-feeding and rest.