When it comes to hair-health, one of the most important factors we tend to easily overlook is our daily nutrition. What we eat on a daily basis has a direct impact on not just our overall health but also on the quality, texture, and strength of our hair. Food is super essential to the proper functioning of our vital organs, including our hair. For this reason, we should be careful with what we include in our diet.
The right kinds of food will enhance and nourish our hair roots so hair grows stronger, thicker, and longer. The wrong kinds of food will create a deficiency of some sort and consequently have an adverse effect on our hair, making it dry, brittle, weak, and easier to break. But how do we know what to eat and what not to eat? I have a detailed post on what foods to eat to stop hair loss that you can read here. As for the foods you must avoid if you want to stop hair loss, you are exactly where you should be! I will discuss all the foods you should stop eating if you want to improve the health of your hair in this article- so, stay tuned!
Lifestyle Impacts Diet
It is important to keep in mind that the reasons for hair loss are many and differ from woman to woman (You can find a list of these reasons for hair loss in women here). However, nutrition is one of the main reasons that leads to hair fall in women. A lot of times, due to stress, we binge on certain kinds of food that may not be healthy choices for us. These kind of “comfort” food may fulfill our cravings for the time being, but what we fail to realize is that they tend to block all forms of hair-healthy nutrition going to our hair follicles. The result is: hair loss!
Alternatively, we may lead busy lifestyles where we seldom have the time to cook highly nutritious meals and resort to easy on-the-go greasy food to satiate our hunger for that moment. This could mean grabbing a slice of pizza in between meetings, a hotdog during lunch time, or even munching on some candy throughout the day, and having restaurant-bought fried food for dinner.
Or we may be up late watching a movie, studying, internet browsing, or even working and would crave for a late-night snack. Usually this snack ends up being a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, a carbonated drink, or even some kind of left-over sugar-filled dessert! These food choices are the worst thing we can do to ourselves; and if these poor food choices become a habit, then GOD help us and our hair!
Stop Eating These
Regardless of what kind of lifestyle we have, our choices of what kind of food we eat on a regular basis really determines how healthy our hairline remains. Sometimes it is certain food groups that lead to hair fall in some people and other times, it is not a single food but a combination of foods consumed over a period of time that leads to hair thinning. Let’s take a look at 10 foods that we must stop eating NOW if we want to control our hair loss problem.
1. Sugary Cereal
If you have grown up in the western world, chances are you have had cereal for breakfast almost every day of the week. Perhaps you have even had it as a snack at odd times in the night -I am guilty of this! How can anyone resist Golden Grahams? (*smiling angelically*)
Well, the problem with most cereal is that they are loaded with sugar, which increases DHT production, a sex hormone linked to hair loss. Sugar also reduces protein absorption and protein is necessary for hair health as it is what hair strands are made up of. Sugary cereal contain very high glycemic indices and artificial food coloring agents, both of which cause a blood-sugar spike. Natural fiber from cereal is removed and so the sugar from the food goes directly into the bloodstream causing a crazy blood sugar spike, to which the body responds by releasing an insanely large amount of insulin, which is bad news for our hair!
2. White Bread/ White pasta
Refined carbohydrates like white flour, cakes, biscuits, cookies, white pasta, etc are high in sugar, low in fiber and are known to inhibit the body’s ability to handle stress. As we all know stress is a major contributor to hair loss. If our body has a high intake of foods that fluctuate our stress levels, we are likely to see excessive hair fall. Also, the body produces large amounts of insulin in order to digest these kinds of foods. Increased levels of insulin, as we learned earlier can result in indirect hair loss.
Switching to consuming more complex carbs like bananas, beans, and wholemeal flour helps the body in digestion and improves blood flow to the entire body and scalp so that nutrients reach the hair follicles, making them stronger and more nourished.
Swordfish contains higher levels of mercury than other seafood and increased mercury intake is linked to hair loss because it converts to methylmercury, which is toxic. Sushi is another type of fish that has high quantities of mercury. Consuming this type of fish 4-5 times a week, which is what is a common trend these days, is dangerous for the health of not just hair but nails too, making them both brittle and weak. Consider switching to salmon or shrimps if you are a fish lover as these are all low in mercury.
4. Fried/Greasy Food
Who doesn’t love burgers and fries? Greasy or fried food is our hair’s worst enemy! They clog up arteries and lead to a greasy scalp, cause miniaturization of hair follicles, clog up sweat pores, and restrict blood flow to the hair roots. When sweat pores are clogged, this causes harmful hormones like DHT to also get entrapped, leading to hair loss. Using a good shampoo to wash away the grease on our scalp and open up clogged pores may help, but omitting these types of food from our diet altogether would be a much better idea. Besides, when you eat too much fried food, you are at risk of obesity, coronary disease, and even diabetes!
5. Sugar-Free Food
So I know I said sugar is bad for hair health but I have to tell you now that sugar-free foods are no better either. Confusing, isn’t it? Okay, hear me out here. When people go on a weight-loss diet, they automatically think that sugar-free foods are the way to go. They couldn’t be more wrong! Sugar-free foods are loaded with artificial sweeteners called aspartame and this is literally a death trap for not just the hair but our overall health. Aspartame is known to cause hair thinning and hair loss along with other diseases like arthritis, depression, bloating, impotency, etc. Now, wouldn’t it be a good idea to stay away from foods containing aspartame?
6. Dairy Food
Dairy food that is readily available in stores is almost always pasteurized. The pasteurization process destroys the naturally occurring enzyme that helps our body digest dairy in the first place. Without this enzyme, the body struggles to digest dairy, making it nutritionally useless. Dairy, then is digested by bacteria and secreted as waste within the body and this leads to hair loss.
Another reason why dairy products negatively affect hair is because they are highly acidic and can trigger delayed allergic reactions. The allergic reactions can lead to destruction of hair follicles and constricted blood flow due to inflammation. Further, dairy blocks pores so the skin on the scalp becomes “pasty” and miniaturization of hair follicles occur, resulting in hair loss and thinning.
Foods rich in selenium such as oysters, are linked with hair loss. While our body requires traces of selenium, an overdose of this mineral can really increase the rate at which our hair falls. Selenium is a vital antioxidant that prevents cell and tissue damage. It also helps our body fight cancer, cardiovascular and thyroid diseases. The NHS recommends men within the ages of 19-64 to get 0.075 mg of selenium a day, whereas women within the ages 19-64 to consume no more than 0.06mg of selenium a day.
If you love your booze, I have bad news for you. Alcohol is a toxin and can have nasty effects on your liver, heart, skin, and even hair. Liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body and purifying the blood. Dehydration from alcohol causes the liver to work even harder, plaguing the body with the toxins it was supposed to remove.
Alcohol also causes zinc deficiency and when the body is deprived of these vital nutrients, the hair loses its strength and elasticity. Drinking alcohol on the regular reduces sleep quality, leaving you more stressed and irritable and stress, as we already know, constricts the blood flow to the hair follicles, making it dry, brittle and weak. The more you drink, the worse you will sleep. The worse you sleep, the more hair fall you will see. For the sake of your hair, if you want a good snooze, lose the booze.
Who doesn’t love a steaming hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning? I know I do! In fact, I am such a bad addict that if I ever miss that first cup of the day, I will have to suffer through horrible headaches (Okay, don’t judge me! I know I have a problem. But I live in Canada and it’s really cold here…). Coffee in moderation is considered to be good for health. However, for those of you who are excessive coffee drinkers, I have bad news again for you.
Caffeine is known to prevent iron absorption along with other hair-healthy nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and calcium. When hair is deprived of these vital nutrients, it becomes dry and brittle. Excessive caffeine intake causes iron deficiency, which is one of the leading causes of hair loss in women. Further, caffeine also increases levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Even though the signs may not be evident early, but over time, stress causes premature greying or hair fall.
10. Carbonated Drinks
Last on the list are carbonated drinks like soda or pop, which are highly acid forming. Not to mention the amount of sugar in these drinks that are harmful for the hair, causing a massive blood-sugar spike and then a sudden crash. In the summer months, or even all year around, some people’s preferred choice of beverage when it comes to quenching thirst, is a can of pop. Consuming these drinks regularly is not only bad for overall health but the health of the hair as it blocks all kinds of nutrients from reaching the hair follicles, resulting in hair thinning and hair loss.
Happy Health=Happy Hair
If you are still reading, Congrats- you made it through the list! Although this may seem like a long list of foods to avoid, making small changes in your diet is the way to go for happy hair. Instead of completely omitting foods that you are regularly consuming, you can reduce the intake little by little. For example, instead of 4 cups of coffee in a day, try to reduce it to 2 cups. The next time you go out for dinner, opt for water instead of a pop with your meal. Switch to whole-wheat pizza or have frozen greek yogurt for dessert and add your own fruits for added sweetness. However small your changes are, your hair will thank you!
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful in your quest to figure out ways to end your hair loss troubles. If so, I would love to hear your comments and thoughts! What foods do you think will be difficult for you to let go of and what other foods do you think I should include on this list?