Have you ever heard a tale about a race between a tortoise and a hare? Spoiler alert: tortoise won. Hare was so confident: he even decided to take a nap that led him to sleep through the race, while tortoise step-by-step reached her goal and won. When thinking about hair health you need to consider the “if you go slow and you go far” approach.
Whether by promoting healthy blood flow in scalp or feeding your body nutrients it needs – hair takes time to return the love and care you invest in it. Nutrition for hair growth is paramount in the sustainable approach and lasting results. Hair growing journey is one for a long haul, and if you are after quick fixes and tricks, the results you will get – will be short-loved, too. Fixing is not transforming. Transformation is built to last.
For those willing to take a stand for their health and especially hair health and take on a on-going commitment to grow out healthy hair and restore hair growth, in this article we focused on providing simple guidelines when it comes to linking nutrition and hair.
Alkaline diet for hair growth
Our bodies are naturally alkaline – meaning that the pH is roughly above 7 on the pH scale of 0 to 14. When you change your pH by consuming highly acidic foods, for example simple sugars, alcohol and processed meats – you are changing the environment in your body towards more acidic. To maintain the alkaline environment your body switches on the defence mechanism – also known as inflammation.
In the age of convenience, focused on fast consumption and ailments, we are ready to consume handfuls of supplements. We find ourselves unable to replace simple sugars with complex carbohydrates despite that it is one single thing you can do to your body to significantly reduce inflammation. It has been proven again and again that sugar leads to inflammation through gut microbiome, pushing our bodies to attack our own cells – including our hair follicles. And, there is an unhelpful belief that handfuls of supplements will resolve their hair issues without changes to our nutrition.
One diet change towards hair health
If you are to make one change in your nutrition in order to invest in your hair growth and hair health, let it be cutting out the sugar from your diet. One thing, one habit change at a time. If you only can do one thing: say – exclude white meal flour goods: bread and pasta – then you can pin this article for later until you’re ready for more change. Change takes time, let there be no rush in the on-going progress of bettering ourselves.
Quick guide for alkaline diet for hair growth
Most common foods that are alkaline which you can find in most supermarkets are:
- Leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli, spinach
- Avocado, raw nuts (apart from peanuts) and seeds
- Cucumber, cauliflower, celery
Another thing that is beneficial in alkaline diet – is that it has higher concentration of fibre, which leads to better food digestion and healthy colon. Healthy colon not only “feels” good since you’re not constantly constipated or bloated: because of the way the nutrients from our food is absorbed by our intestines, healthy gut microbiome is key in ensuring nutrients from your diet reach the rest of your body. That includes those nutrients key to hair growth.
Foods to avoid for hair growth
You can also do various hacks, like adding wheatgrass and spirulina with your smoothies – to have an extra shot of alkalinity to your body. However it is important to ensure you’re not consuming too much acidic foods, such as:
- Sugar: baked goods, white and wholemeal flour, cakes, pastries
- Meat: especially processed deli meats, poultry and fish
- Drinks: alcohol, black tea, coffee, fizzy / pop soda drinks
- Dairy: milk, cheese (cottage cheese and goat cheese are one less acidic option) of the lowermost acidic dairy)
If you are petrified to see most foods you eat on the list above, here is another helpful guideline, which splits the acidic foods between most and less acidic:
- Most acidic: alcohol, pop soda, meat and poultry, baked goods with white and wholemeal flour
- Less acidic: milk, dairy, eggs, fish, dark chocolate
Point on meat and dairy – if you are following a plant-based diet, you can skip this part. However if you are following an omnivore or a vegetarian approach to eating and still want to consume meat and / or dairy – it is important to consume these in balance with the sufficient amount of alkaline foods.
It feels that we have been badmouthing supplements and we want to set the record straight. Supplements are essential especially if your diet is not balanced due to no fault of your own (e.g. you are limited to seasonality of your current geographical location, for example). If you were to take one supplement, Vitamin C goes a long, long way. It is key in many other vitamins processing, such as iron – making it more bioavailable to our bodies. It is also the main building block in collagen production, another key factor in hair health. Contrary to popular belief, taking collagen pills or even putting it onto your skin directly will not help your hair growth, read why here. And best thing, Vitamin C is available in most common drugstores around the world.
Conclusion on nutrition for hair growth
Last few parting words, when it comes nutrition, it seems that everyone knows that they need to eat less sugary and processed foods, everyone knows that too much of anything is bad for you, however perhaps by approaching it from the perspective of “what is good for my hair” would inspire some of us to feed our bodies with nutritious and wholesome foods.
Your hair would not grow noticeably if you eat a kale stalk for every day for a week and balance it out with a sugar binge on the weekend. It would not grow significantly after a week of eating “healthily” without the sugar binge. In fact, it won’t do so even after a month of doing so. But perhaps after a month you notice a slight uplift in your energy levels: you notice you have more energy and maybe you will be more keen to include an extra physical activity in your day therefore improving your blood flow. Perhaps two months you notice that your hair shines a little bit more than it used to. Perhaps after three months you notice new hair growth, especially if you combine with scalp stimulation. It is small steps, but if you want to go far, you need to go slow.
Rat steroid 5 alpha-reductase kinetic characteristics: extreme pH-dependency of the type II isozyme in prostate and epididymis homogenates, (1)
The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? (2)
Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial, (3)
1. What should I eat to stop hair loss?
In order to stop hair loss you need to stop eating products high in processed sugar (e.g. candy, baked goods, desserts, pop soda). A diet high in sugar leads to body inflammation including inflammation in the scalp. In order to fight this local inflammation your body can begin sending DHT (dihydrotestosterone) molecules to your scalp, which have a hair follicle miniaturization effect leading to hair thinning and hair loss.
While fruit is also high in sugar, the high fiber content prevents quick absorption of glucose into your bloodstream – so to curb initial sugar cravings snacking on a piece of fruit can help. You should start eating non-starchy vegetables high in fiber – such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and unsaturated fats – such as avocado, nuts and seeds. In addition, since it is extremely time-consuming to try and get all your nutrients from the foods you eat, you need to supplement with simple A-Z multivitamins available in any drugstore and omega-3, whether from plants (linseed) or fish.
2. Which fruit is best for hair growth?
Best fruit for hair growth is the one lowest in sugar, therefore berries are your best friend when it comes to hair growth. Think raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Berries also contain high amounts of antioxidants that help maintain collagen in your skin from being destroyed by free radicals and oxidation. Honeydew or cantaloupe melon and watermelon are good for hair growth because they are low in sugar.
3. What drink helps hair growth?
Water and fermented drinks. In order to grow healthy hair, the skin on your scalp needs appropriate levels of hydration that comes from water. Fermented drinks, such as kombucha or kefir helps maintain a healthy gut and its microbiome. Not only does it help digestion of the food easier, fermented drinks improve absorption of the nutrients from the food you consume. In addition, when your gut health is compromised harmful bacteria can start multiplying and manufacture extra lipopolysaccharides that lead to an inflammatory response in your body. The inflammation in your body can lead to poor hair health and hair loss.
4. What foods cause hair loss?
High-sugar foods – for example candy, desserts, pop soda, white bread, white table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other product with high amounts of added sugar – jams, some preserves etc. All these increase body inflammation which leads to local inflammation in the scalp. To fight this local inflammation your body can start sending DHT molecules to your scalp which have a hair follicle miniaturization effect – meaning that the follicle becomes smaller and smaller eventually leading to hair thinning and hair loss.