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Foods That Can Contribute To Hair Loss

It’s common knowledge that the food you eat has a huge impact on your general health. From childhood development to reducing the risk of disease, eating a balanced diet has lots of benefits for your mind and body [1].

Most people know the basics: eating fruit and vegetables leads to better overall health, while too much sugar and fat can lead to weight gain and dental problems [2]. But did you know the food you eat can also affect hair health?

As well as vitamins for hair growth, many other foods have also been linked with maintaining and promoting healthy hair. From artificial sweeteners to fried foods, find out more about whether there are certain foods that cause hair loss and whether there’s genuine evidence to back up these connections.

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chemical formula of aspartame

Do stevia, sucralose and aspartame cause hair loss?

Opting for the sugar-free version of your favourite foods may sound like a win-win for your sweet tooth and your health. But do sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, and aspartame cause more harm than good to hair health?

Fortunately for people who want to satisfy their sweet tooth without compromising their hair, there’s currently no evidence to suggest that these non-nutritive sweeteners can affect hair loss. In the case of aspartame, evidence contradicts the supposed link between the sweetener and hair loss [3].

Meanwhile, eating too many sugar-based foods can compromise hair health, with research suggesting that avoiding sugary foods is key to improving hair growth [4]. So you can continue using stevia, sucralose, and other types of sweeteners without worrying that it will lead to hair loss.

fast food

Can eating too much-fried food cause hair loss?

Foods which are high in unhealthy fats are never good news for your health. Fried foods, which are often cooked in substantial amounts of oil, contain unhealthy saturated and trans fats. So what’s the impact of these fats on your hair health?

How obesity affects hair follicles

A high-fat diet is often responsible for causing obesity, which has been linked with significant hair loss in animal studies [5]. Being significantly overweight depletes hair follicle stem cells and prevents hair follicles from regenerating. While this is an indirect effect of eating fried foods, it’s important to be mindful of the long-term effects of what you eat.

The effects of high-fat diets on female or male pattern hair loss

Both saturated and unsaturated fats have also been linked to increased levels of testosterone and DHT [6]. DHT is the hormone responsible for most significant hair loss (in the form of male pattern hair loss), so there may be a link between eating a high-fat diet and hair loss.

Junk food and greasy hair

Studies have shown that a diet high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed food can increase sebum production (the oily substance secreted by hair follicles to retain moisture in the hair) leading to greasy hair. [11]

Healthy fats to eat to promote healthy hair growth

A study in menopausal women suggests the best healthy fats for preserving hair health come from fish, poultry, eggs, olive oil, and rapeseed oil. So, it’s important to focus on these nutrient-rich fat sources, rather than cooking foods in cheap cooking oils and butter [7].

raspberry on a spoonful of sugar

Sugar, stress, and hair loss: What’s the link?

Excessive sugar consumption is behind many common ailments, from type 2 diabetes to anxiety and depression [8]. Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and pasta are common comfort foods. They’re typically full of sugar, which is what makes them so enjoyable — and bad for your health.

How does stress affect hair fall?

Stress is closely linked with hair loss, from conditions like trichotillomania to telogen effluvium (a condition where hair falls out due to emotional shock). For some people, limiting sugar intake may reduce stress and anxiety, helping to restore hair without medical intervention. 

How does sugar affect hair health?

Diabetes is also linked with hair loss [9]. This condition can lead to poor blood circulation which can disrupt the hair growth cycle, leading to patchy, uneven hair growth across the head (and in some cases the rest of the body). You may be able to manage type 2 diabetes by reducing your sugar intake. However, it’s important to discuss any treatment plans with your GP before making any dietary changes.

Foods that can contribute to hair loss

Can tinned tuna cause hair loss?

In 2019, a study examined two cases of women in early menopause who were experiencing hair loss [10]. Both women had a diet that was high in tuna — a fish which often contains high mercury levels. The study found that eating less tuna ultimately reversed their alopecia.

This study uses an extremely small sample. However, it does indicate a link between hair loss and the high mercury levels found in tinned tuna. So if you eat a tuna-rich diet (or any other fish that have high mercury levels, like mackerel or bass), consider cutting down your intake to minimise the risk of hair loss but also zinc deficiency. Read more about the relationship between zinc and hair loss.

Learn more about the link between diet and hair loss

While androgenetic alopecia is the number one cause of hair loss around the world, diet and nutrient deficiency still play a part in keeping hair healthy. If you’re concerned about your hair thinning, find out how to promote hair growth by eating a balanced diet that can prevent hair loss.

Alternatively, get in touch with our best hair transplant clinic team to book a consultation to discuss and diagnose your own hair loss.

Foods That Can Contribute To Hair Loss, Wimpole Clinic

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