The relationship between diet and hair loss is still being researched, but it is known that poor nutrition can contribute to thinning hair. It is normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair every day, and most people experience some thinning of the hair as a consequence of the ageing process.
Men in particular are prone to hair thinning as they get older, and the process can even begin as soon as the late teens or early twenties. In this case, it is likely that the cause is genetic male pattern baldness, which occurs due to sensitivity to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and die, usually starting at the temples and around the crown, and in time the hair will become fine and sparse all over the head. Some men are more sensitive to the effects of DHT than others, usually because of genetic factors.
There are effective treatments available for this type of hair loss, including finasteride tablets. It is important to start taking them as soon as the hair loss is first noticed to get the best results.
Foods that may help to slow hair loss
There are reports that certain foods, including turmeric, soybeans, coconut oil, and pumpkin seeds can reduce the levels of DHT in the body and therefore slow down hair loss. However, it is important to stress that none of the studies carried out so far have been proven to work on humans, and they should only be used as a complementary medicine.
What is known is that a well-balanced diet that contains plenty of iron, vitamin D, and antioxidants can maintain a healthy and full head of hair. A 2020 study into the role of diet in androgenetic alopecia (the medical term for male pattern baldness) found that the Mediterranean diet may help to promote hair health and growth.
The Mediterranean diet includes the type of foods typically eaten by people who live in the southern coastal areas of European countries such as France, Spain, Italy, and Greece. It is rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, nuts and olive oil. These foods contain protective nutrients and antioxidants that can strengthen the hair and promote growth.
Fish that contains essential fatty acids including omega-3s is known to be very good for hair and skin. The most beneficial types of fish include salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. They are also a good source of protein, which is essential for maintaining a healthy hair growth cycle.
Can some foods damage hair growth?
Some studies suggest that eating too many simple carbohydrates and refined grains can exacerbate the production of sebum, which can lead to inflammation of the hair follicles and increase the risk of hair loss. It is therefore important to avoid eating too many highly processed foods such as white pasta, cakes, pastries, and biscuits. Ultimately, it may be down to genetics alone as to whether a man will develop male pattern baldness. However, eating a nutritious diet may lead to fuller and healthier hair.