In this guide I’ll show you the proven best diet for hair loss.
Hair loss is essentially an unnatural process. Often it’s caused by a poor diet (although there are lots of other reasons as well.)
If you can get your diet right, half the battle is won, and re-growing your hair will be much easier.
In this article you’ll learn:
- The foods you must avoid if you ever want to keep your hair
- How to eat the right foods for your body type (every body is different)
- The ultimate foods to boost hair growth
- The vegetable juices that can stop hair loss
- The foods that increase (and decrease) DHT levels (the hormone primarily responsible for hair loss.)
- The delayed allergic reactions from certain foods that can cause your hair to fall out
- Why male pattern baldness is more common in developed countries
NOTE: These aren’t separate diets, they should all be used in combination, but I’ve broken them down separately for clarity and to show how they relate to hair loss.
Finally, don’t forget to take the my new 6 question quiz, at the bottom of this page. Based on the answers your give it will calculate a score for you. The higher your score the more likely that these diet changes will work successfully to restore your hair.
An alkalising diet
One of the quickest and most effective things you can change in your diet today (and start seeing results within weeks) is the acid/alkaline balance of your diet.
Just like any organism, the human body has a preferred pH (this is a measure of whether something is acidic, neutral or alkaline. 1 being very acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 being very alkaline.)
Our body has evolved to work most efficiently at a certain pH. At this pH range our body works amazingly well, defending us from bacteria, viruses and other diseases. Metabolism takes places quickly and efficiently, our hormones work perfectly and are in balance.
However, when the pH of our body goes outside this balanced pH, really bad (and sometimes unusual) things start to happen.
Normally, because of the typical modern diets we eat, our body will become too acidic.
Meat, dairy, grains and sugars are all ‘acid producing’ which means that when they are metabolised they leave an ‘acidic waste.’
On the other hand, vegetables, fresh fruits, raw soaked nuts and seeds and many herbs are all alkalising when they are metabolised.
(As you can see, most of us eat much more acidic than alkaline foods.)
(I know when my hair was falling out I ate way to many acidic foods and not enough alkaline foods)
Our body will essentially do anything to stay at the right pH. Often the body will store fat (storing fat helps remove acid from the body) just to try and maintain the right pH balance.
In some people the body will store fat (which helps remove acid from the blood and vital organs) but in others it will take things from the body and use it to neutralise the acidity. Sometimes this can be keratin from the hair.
The result is that keratin (used to build hair follicles) is taken from the hair, resulting in thin, weak and lifeless hair that grows very slowly.
The answer then is to shift your diet towards the alkaline end of the spectrum of foods.
Less meat, grains, dairy and sugar and more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The other thing about getting alkalised is that some studies have shown that alkaline conditions in the scalp directly inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha reductase which converts testosterone into DHT (the hormone mainly responsible for pattern baldness.)
So eating a alkaline diet has a double effect on stopping hair loss.
A high fibre diet
Processed foods lack fibre, whereas most natural (unprocessed) foods have a lot of fibre.
If we eat too many processed foods and not enough raw, natural foods then the lack of fibre starts to take its toll on our body.
The lack of fibre causes a build up of waste products in the colon. Without the fibre sweeping the colon clean the waste builds up over time.
(Just imagine a dirty drain pipe that is clogged and blocked.)
This is why constipation, fatigue, feeling heavy and full are so common.
This build up of waste in the digestive tract does 3 things:
- Stops nutrients being absorbed into the body properly
- Stops wastes being removed from the body properly
- Causes waste foods to leak back into the blood through the colon
Let’s discuss each one in detail.
Lack of fibre stops nutrients being properly absorbed
If the wall of your digestive tract is coated in waste then it makes it very hard for nutrients and minerals from the foods you eat to be absorbed and used by your body.
This causes a chronic nutrient deficiency that can have knock on effects. One of these is that your body doesn’t have the nutrients and minerals needed to build new hair follicles.
The body will also ‘sacrifice’ less important uses of the limited nutrients and minerals (sorry but your hair isn’t that important for your survival) for more important areas such as repairing vital organs which are crucial to your health.
So hair loss may be the first indicator your body is lacking nutrients and minerals.
Lack of fibre stops metabolic wastes being properly removed
The second point is that a lack of fibre stops metabolic wastes (the part left over after your body has metabolised the food) from being removed from your body.
Here’s a quick story.
Historians and scientists say that the greatest medical invention of all time was the the sewage system. Before we had sewage systems human waste just lingered around attracting diseases. People died very young because there was the constant threat of getting ill from all the waste lying around.
After sewage systems were introduced to developing populations diseases rates went down, life expectancy rates went way up and everybody was happy they didn’t have to hang around in their own muck anymore.
This is important because if your digestive tract is blocked up from lack of fibre then it makes it very hard for your body to remove the waste from your body.
The whole thing ‘backs-up’ filling your body with toxins and metabolic waste. Just like if toxic sewage leaked on to the village green, the grass would wither and die, so too does your hair start to suffer with all these toxins floating around in your blood, not able to escape.
Lack of fibre causes waste foods to leak back into the blood through the colon
This follows on nicely to the third point about why a diet high in fibre helps stop hair loss, and a low fibre diet can cause hair loss.
As the left over foods line your digestive tract and begin to ferment and putrefy inside your gut they release toxins that then leak back through into the blood.
This can also be a cause of clogged and blocked hair follicles as the toxins cannot escape through the usual routes they are excreted through the skin (scalp.)
This makes the effect of the other two points worse again.
It may feel like you’re being attacked from all sides but luckily the solution is quite simple.
Get more fibre in your diet and clean out your digestive tract. Get your bowels flowing again. The best way to do this is a vegetable juice fast with psyllium husk supplements to sweep the colon clean.
Learn more about the vegetable juice detox that will clean out your colon here.
A healthy gut diet
Processed foods contain preservatives which, almost be definition, are there to kill bacteria. This is all good and fine when you want to store something for a long time (and make supermarkets and food companies more money) but when it comes to our gut bacteria it’s not a good thing at all.
Inside our gut are billions of bacteria that help digest our food (amongst many other things.) There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria that play a very important role in overall health.
Processed foods (full of preservatives and other artificial additives) kill many of these healthy bacteria, upsetting the balance and causing health issues down the road.
Although the connection between healthy gut bacteria and hair loss is not entirely clear, what is clear is that improving the balance of healthy gut bacteria can help to stop hair loss, and help re grow your hair.
Here’s an in-depth guide to healthy gut bacteria for beating hair loss.
Here are a few very simple tips that you can do right now to improve your gut bacteria:
- Avoid processed foods
- Avoid preservatives
- Avoid antibiotics
- Drink fermented drinks like wine (in moderation), kombucha and kefir
- Take a high quality probiotic
- Eat fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and yogurt.
A guide to the best probiotic supplements for hair loss.
A low glycemic index diet
It’s now fairly clear that blood sugar levels play an important role in human health. Specifically high blood sugar levels can cause all sorts of health issues.
For example, high blood sugar levels have been linked to cancer:
But let’s focus on hair loss for now. Spikes in blood sugar levels have also been linked to pattern baldness (both male and female.)
What foods cause blood sugar levels to rise?
The glycemic index of foods is a way to measure how much a food (when digested) will cause our blood sugar levels to rise.
Therefore, as people trying to stop our hair loss, we should aim to eat foods with a low glycemic index and avoid spiking our blood sugar levels as much as possible.
Hair loss and glycemic loads
One theory is that male pattern baldness could be a clinical marker of insulin resistance. This means the researchers believe that baldness can be used as a visible symptom to diagnose insulin resistance.
Glycemic index was originally used as a scale that rates how much foods raise blood sugar levels using glucose as a reference point.
However glycemic load is now used as a fairer estimation of the quality of a carbohydrate because it takes into account the glycemic index and amount of carbohydrate in a typical serving. The website www.glycemicindex.com can help you determine the GI of most foods.
Insulin resistance means that cells don’t respond the way they are meant to when insulin is released by the body to combat high blood sugar.
When we eat foods with high glycemic loads, our bodies digest them too fast, and sugar floods into the blood too quickly. What normally happens is that insulin is released and this tells cells to take up glucose from the blood.
It is likely that insulin resistance causes hair loss because the blood sugar in our bodies becomes much more unstable, and our hair simply can’t cope with quick and continuous changes in blood sugar.
When we evolved we would never have to cope with such great variations in blood sugar, and our hair is one of the first and also the most visible places that suffer.
It’s possible the quick and on-going changes in the chemistry of our blood (like rising and falling blood sugar) interrupt the growth cycle.
In a similar way to how plants suffer when the pH and amount of nutrients in the soil is changed. Except with humans who eat high GL foods this is occurring all the time throughout the day.
Primitive cultures don’t have access to foods with high GL (except honey occasionally) because their foods are natural and contain plenty of fibre so an Eskimo, for example would not undergo rapid rises and falls of blood sugar levels throughout the day.
The answer is to consume foods (and drinks) with low glycemic loads. This basically means whole, natural and ideally raw foods.
Processed foods usually have high GL because all the fibre has been removed so they are absorbed into the blood very rapidly.
It might be beneficial to view processed foods in a new way which will help in curtailing them from your diet.
Instead of thinking of highly processed foods as a food source, begin to view highly processed foods as ‘oral stimulation.’
In reality when we eat a burger from a fast food chain it’s not because we are hungry and crave the nutrition, it’s because we desire ‘oral stimulation,’ like how a trashy TV show is ‘auditory and visual stimulation.’
This will help you shift your diet towards real whole natural food that has nutrient value but you can still be stimulated from time to time with some processed ‘food.’
As an interesting thought, why do you think it’s so easy to eat large amounts of junk food, but it’s hard to eat lots of vegetables? Well, when we eat junk food our bodies can’t find the nutrients they want and need from the food, so we keep on consuming hoping to get enough of what we need.
Fresh, raw vegetables have everything we need in them so we don’t need to eat huge quantities. The main problem is that we all eat for pleasure and not for nutrition.
The table below shows the GL of some typical refined and unrefined foods.
|REFINED FOODS||UNREFINED FOODS|
|Food||Glycemic Load||Food||Glycemic load|
|Crisped rice cereal||77.3||Parsnips||19.5|
|Jelly beans||74.5||Baked potato||18.4|
|Lifesavers||67.9||Boiled broad beans||15.5|
|Rice cakes||66.9||Boiled couscous||15.1|
|Table sugar (sucrose)||64.9||Boiled sweet potato||13.1|
|Shredded wheat cereal||57.0||Boiled brown rice||12.6|
|Grape-nuts cereal||54.3||Boiled yam||11.5|
|Cheerios cereal||54.2||Boiled garbanzo beans||9|
|Rye crsip bread||53.4||Pineapple||8.2|
|Shortbread cookies||41.9||Boiled beets||6.3|
|Granola bar||39.3||Boiled kidney beans||6.2|
|Angel food cake||38.7||Apple||6.0|
|100% bran cereal||32.5||Cherries||3.7|
|Whole wheat bread||31.8||Peach||3.1|
Eating processed foods with high glycemic loads that are devoid of enzymes is one of the primary reasons the occurrence of hair loss is much higher in more developed countries than less developed countries.
Hair Loss Could Be Caused by a Declined Circulatory System
Some of the scientific theories do not link diabetes – be that type 1 or type 2 – directly to hair loss. They do, however, believe it to be a secondary symptom.
Considering the fact how devastating the disease can be and how negatively it affects various bodily processes, this is really not a surprise. When the whole system is compromised, symptoms can appear literally anywhere within the human body.
Diabetes does the most damage to the body’s circulatory system, which results in a decreased ability to transport nutrients and oxygen. The circulatory system was developed to be close to the most important organs like the heart, lungs, brain, etc. Even when it loses some of its efficiency, it can keep the body alive by providing blood for these major organs.
Bad circulation often results in cold limbs – especially cold feet – and hair thinning, simply because of the location of these two areas. While the circulatory system can still deliver enough blood to the main organs helping them keep us alive, the upper and lower extremities can suffer from not getting enough blood and nutrients.
In these cases the decreased blood circulation is a secondary effect of diabetes, but really not the primary reason for the hair loss that occurs. From a hair fall standpoint, the main problem with bad circulation is that it not only makes you lose your hair, but it also makes it harder for your body to grow new ones.
Drug Induced Hair Loss
Another likely scenario where diabetes can cause hair loss in an indirect way is when you take certain drugs for it. Many diabetes drugs are known for their side effects, some of which include increased shedding.
There is vast scientific evidence that links drugs to lost hair, including alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, biguanides, and dopamine agonists like Bromocriptine. Despite the studies, the link is often still hard to establish mainly because of the nature of the disease.
From a diagnostic and side effect identification standpoint, diabetes is tricky because many of the drug-related side effects are also the side effects of diabetes.
When it’s possible that the cause is a drug, trying a different one can help, but sometimes the symptoms won’t go away even if they were caused by the previous medication.
A Hormonal Imbalance Created By Diabetes
Diabetes creates a hormonal imbalance in the body – while also often being caused by a hormonal imbalance – and these changes often manifest through hair loss. While most people are familiar with the role of the hormone called insulin, there are at least three additional hormones that play a crucial role in blood sugar regulation.
These three additional hormones are: glucagon, cortisol and human growth hormone. Diabetes does a number on the whole process and not just these individual hormones, and that can cause an imbalance that in return will negatively affect various other bodily processes, possibly including hair growth and regeneration.
The result can unfortunately be thinned and steadily degrading hair, which sometimes leads to gradual and permanent balding.
Negatively Affecting Hair’s Growth Phases
For healthy people, 5 to 15% of their hair will be in a resting phase at any given time. This means that the hairs that are in that phase stop growing for a while. The problem is that when someone has diabetes, that number could become significantly higher.
When a high percentage of the hair gets stuck in that resting phase for too long we call this telogen effluvium, which is basically a condition that causes many hairs decide to go on a strike simultaneously. This doesn’t necessarily result in permanent balding, but it can lead to excessive shedding (usually temporary).
Reduced Healing Factors
It is well-known that diabetes leads to diminished healing within the body. This happens due to a combination of factors like decreased blood flow and a degrading growth factor response.
These two combined diminish the body’s ability to successfully trigger a quick and efficient response to injuries. The reason why this negatively affects hair growth has everything to do with our hair’s own cyclical growing phase which involves natural hair damage.
Your body replaces the damaged hairs with new ones, using the same follicle for the growing process. When you have diabetes this process is unfortunately much slower, in fact it is often sluggish enough that instead of being able to replace the hair with another one, it simply falls out.
Oxidative stress is one of the main culprits of diabetes. Oxidative stress implies the individual or simultaneous presence of certain conditions including hyperglycemia, hyperlipedemia or hypertension. Hair thinning is just one of the many symptoms that can arise from these conditions, and the more serious ones can unfortunately lead to severe organ damage.
Compromised Immune System
Another side effect of having diabetes is the presence of a likely compromised immune system. When blood sugar levels are much higher than normal, the body’s immune system has to put in extra work, leaving it more vulnerable to outside attacks.
Infectious diseases are more likely to find a crack through the shield, and once they do, they cause even more problems. The dilemma is twofold. First, many of the potential diseases and infections can cause shedding and balding on their own.
Even if they do not, however, they can still affect various bodily processes negatively, likely affecting the growth rate and quality of the hair. As with most problems within the human body, we are talking about a chain reaction.
Diabetes is often not the primary cause of hair loss, rather the first domino that starts the process. On the plus side, shedding that is triggered by some kind of infection – even if that infection is a result of diabetes – tend to correct itself after the cause has disappeared.
There is also a condition called alopecia araeta, where our own immune system turns against us, or more precisely our hair. The condition doesn’t leave scars, but causes baldness on certain areas of the scalp by telling the immune system to attack the hair follicles by causing inflammation.
Most of the time this only affects a couple of patches here and there, but sometimes it leads to complete scalp baldness and in some extreme cases, complete bodily hair loss including the eyebrows, lashes, and pubic hair.
While the condition is not caused directly by diabetes, people with diabetes are more prone to it, and its effects tend to be more serious when they involve a person with the disease.
If you have a question, please leave it in the comment section below and I will be sure to answer.