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Diet and Hair Loss: Foods To Avoid and Foods To Include

Poor diet and nutrient deficiencies can cause or worsen hair loss. However, limited evidence proves a tangible connection between hair loss and diet. Some evidence points to a possible connection between simple carbohydrates and hair loss, and other studies suggest mercury levels in certain fish can also contribute to the loss.

Despite limited studies and research, medical professionals cannot deny a link between nutrition and premature hair loss. Diet plays a vital role in normal biological functions, including hair growth and health. Therefore, consuming a poor diet or bad lifestyle habits can affect hair health.

Foods That May Contribute to Hair Loss

Current evidence points to the benefit of specific foods and nutrients in hair health rather than the adverse effects of less-nutritious foods. Still, some information exists to encourage dietary changes away from particular foods.

1. Simple Carbohydrates

The authors of a 2016 study suggested that simple carbohydrates, such as candy, cookies, and cakes, can contribute to hair loss. The results indicated simple carbohydrates contribute to excess sebum production. Sebum is essential for hair health and development, but too much can cause inflammation of the scalp and pores.

Also, consuming too many sugary foods can increase the production of insulin. Too much insulin in the system can adversely affect the blood vessels in the scalp.

2. Fried Foods and Red Meat

Older studies suggest that deep-fried foods and red meat can cause hair loss. The authors speculate poor diet focused on red meat and fried foods can lead to overactive oil glands and sebum production.

3. Fish Containing High Levels of Mercury

According to a 2019 case study, eating fish with high levels of mercury can lead to hair loss. However, the effects of hair loss seem temporary because the participants experienced new growth when they corrected their diets.

Fish is an essential element of every diet, and the Food and Drug Administration recommends eating two to three servings of fish per week. To avoid any potential hair loss related to excessive mercury, eat fish with lower mercury levels, such as:

  • Cod

  • Salmon

  • Tuna

Dietary Recommendations That May Promote Hair Health

While studies and research into the effects of diet on hair loss are still in the early stages, a 2020 review claimed that telogen effluvium — a type of hair loss — stemmed from diets lacking in several essential nutrients, including protein, folate, biotin, healthy fats, vitamin C, niacin, iron, and others. The research would seem to suggest that a balanced diet that included foods rich in these nutrients would promote healthy hair and possible growth. Some foods to consider adding to a hair-healthy diet include:

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Leafy vegetables

  • Citrus fruits

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Beets

  • Whole grains

Lifestyle Changes To Preserve Hair Health

While diet is an important factor to consider for hair health, it is not the only factor. Lifestyle choices will also affect the health of your follicles and body. To preserve your hair health, it is best not to smoke and avoid using hair-damaging products.

Research suggests people who smoke are more likely to experience hair loss. The evidence suggests that nicotine is the primary culprit. There is still more to learn about the roots of hair loss. However, research does imply diet is a possible variable.


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