By Paul Taylor
If you want to eat foods for hair growth, which ones should you add to your diet and consume on a regular basis?
There's no doubt that a link between hair loss and food exists. So it makes sense then that, by avoiding certain foods and choosing others, you should be able to help your hair grow stronger and appear healthier.
So, if you suffer hair loss or thinning hair, and really want to do everything you can to encourage hair regrowth to combat hair loss, take a look at the super foods listed below and see how many of them you currently eat on a regular basis.
Then, if you feel you’re not putting enough of the "good stuff" into your body, you might want to start thinking hard about whether to pop down to the local supermarket and start adjusting your diet.
The list starts off with the basic food types (protein, carbohydrates and fats), then moves on to specific foods for hair growth – some of which you might not have previously realized have the potential to help you tackle your hair loss to some extent.
Hair is almost entirely made from a protein called keratin. So it
makes sense to put plenty of protein into your diet. Proteins are formed
from amino acids, of which there are 25. And five of these, with their
importance to hair growth, are detailed below:
Arginine - Produces nitric oxide in blood vessel linings, and this causes blood vessels to relax and dilate (widen), promoting an increase in blood flow and strong scalp circulation.
L-Lysine - Important for collagen formation. Also works alongside iron to correct the nutrient imbalances which can cause chronic telogen effluvium (1).
Methionine and cysteine - These both contain sulfur (an important mineral for healthy hair growth) (2). Methionine might also help combat the oxidative stress that is thought to play a part in both hair graying and hair loss through dietary L-methionine supplementation (3)(4).
Carbohydrates are either refined or unrefined.
Unrefined carbohydrates are by far the best type - whole-grains, beans, vegetables, etc. all of which will provide the
fiber and nutrients you and your hair needs. And they also provide energy by converting into glucose at a steady, controlled rate.
But, refined carbohydrates are definitely not good: Learn more about how sweet can turn bitter.
Fats are basically either saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated fats can be bad news for your hair: Find out why here.
But unsaturated fats are much more beneficial. These include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (see next section). So these are the basic food groups that can have an effect on hair loss, take a look at some specific foods for hair growth.
The following unsaturated fats should help your hair grow:
Many people know that olive oil has health benefits. This is mainly due to it's high monounsaturated fat content from oleic acid (a type of omega 9 fatty acid).
Some people also know that olive oil is said to be beneficial for hair growth as well. However, that's when it's applied topically to the scalp (e.g., to help remove unwanted scalp deposits).
But olive oil consumed as a food source could also help hair growth by reducing LDL cholesterol (i.e., bad cholesterol) which, in turn, can help reduce testosterone and DHT production to some extent.
Olive oil is probably the most well known monounsaturated fat, but other food sources rich in this healthy type of fat include nut oils (such as almond oil), coconut and avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats include: gamma linolenic acid (GLA), alpha linolenic acid (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6).
These three types are called "essential" because your body needs them but can’t produce them itself. So you must include them in your diet, albeit in just small amounts.
GLA is usually obtained from dietary food supplements of evening primrose oil, borage (starflower) oil or blackcurrant seed oil.
Omega 3 and omega 6 - You can obtain both these from certain vegetable sources (walnuts, pumpkin seeds, rape seed, soy and linseed/flax seed).
But, the richest source of omega 3 comes from oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel) where it exists as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
GLA, omega 3 and omega 6 are said to be powerful 5-alpha reductase and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker foods*.
* DHT is the hormone widely associated with the most common type of hair loss (androgenetic alopecia). And 5-alpha reductase is the enzyme that helps produce it.
Studies suggest that GLA and omega 3 can fight inflammation, albeit that it might take some months before you notice any beneficial effect. But that shouldn't matter as long as it works.
And these fats don't just help with inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis either. Various studies detected hair follicle inflammation in people suffering hair loss to varying extents (7). So GLA and omega 3 might be effective at tackling hair loss this way too.
Note: Whilst it might be tempting to eat loads of fatty foods for hair growth help, you should only consume small amounts of any type of fat. You could also take oil capsules to supplement your diet and so, make sure you get a regular dose of these important oils. If you do, it's also good idea to take vitamin E alongside to prevent the oils from oxidizing.
Healthy fats aside, here are some of the many other foods that might just help your hair growth improve:
Which vitamin supplements are the best ones to use for hair loss and thinning hair? This review also explains which mineral supplements might help improve hair growth, and gives natural food sources if you don't like the idea of popping pills to save your hair.
Some people take the ancient Indian spice turmeric in the hope that the curcumin it contains will benefit one part of the hair loss process – inflammation. But, does it work? Also learn which type of turmeric and curcumin supplements are superior.
Seaweed contains several minerals and alginate which might help with various types of hair loss including male pattern baldness. If you've ever thought about trying seaweed as a potential hair loss remedy, there's some good news and bad news you should know.
Unfortunately, no. But adding as many foods for hair growth as you can from the list above can only help.
However, even if you eat all
these foods, whilst you'll definitely have a very healthy hair-supportive diet, it’s
unlikely that they’ll collectively be able to stop hair loss and regrow
new hair all on their own. To do that, you’ll probably need to try some other ideas as well.
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