Nutrition Tips For Those With Hair Loss

Key ingredients of an alopecia diet

Hair loss is a tricksy beast. One of those things where you don’t know what’s causing it, or what could be a possible cure. But you can prevent it from getting worse; starting with looking after yourself as much as possible.

By taking active steps to improve your physical and mental health, you might even notice that your hair grows back in no time. Imagine! These steps include getting a decent sleep, squeezing in some exercise, and watching what you eat. (Not literally. That’d be weird).

When it comes to the kind of diet that alopecians should follow, there are some dos and don’ts to bear in mind.

Do:

Go green

kale

The world is kale-mad right now, and with good reason. It’s because dark leafy greens like it and spinach come with all kinds of immune-boosting functions.

Kale in particular is great if you have any digestive issues, thanks to its high-fibre content, and it actually has more iron per calorie than beef! Kale mightn’t be as widely regarded as say, turmeric, for its anti-inflammatory properties – but it should be. Because just one cup of the curly green stuff contains 10% of your RDA of Omega-3 fatty acids; the guys that are great for those with autoimmune disorders.

Dark leafies are rich in calcium too, which is brilliant news for your teeth, your nails and – you got it – your hair.

Be oily

salmon

If you’ve got alopecia, chances are your scalp feels drier than an AA Christmas party. Flaky and parched, it ain’t the best environment for hair follicles to burst forth new fruit. (Or hair, for that matter.)

So give your scalp ‘n’ skin some oily goodness with some healthy fats. Eat plenty of Omega-soaked fish like mackerel and salmon or, if you can’t stand the stuff, take some fish oil supplements instead. (I’ve been taking these supplements for a long time now; if I go off them for even a week I notice how quickly my skin dries out!)

You should also cook with extra virgin olive oil or organic cold-pressed coconut oil whenever possible. Tasty, nutritious, and great for your hair.

Don't:

Load up on caffeine

coffee

While caffeine is actually a great hair growth stimulant when applied topically, it isn’t so good for those of us with hormone problems; specifically, those of us with low or heightened levels of cortisol.

Caffeine interferes with the body’s natural cortisol levels, meaning this ‘stress hormone’ can cause you to feel overly anxious, upset and stressed out. Even a single cup of coffee gives me a severe case of the jitters; I know it isn’t good for me or my hair so I stay away from its tempting aroma.

Survive on a sugar high

donuts

If you’ve got an autoimmune condition like alopecia, sugar is probably one of the worst things you could feed it. Why? Well, for one it can cause inflammation in the digestive tract, which can lead to what’s known as a ‘leaky gut’.

When this takes place, your gut wall becomes more permeable, allowing harmful toxins to pass through. And because sugar prevents our white blood cells from destroying these toxins quickly, they’re allowed to linger until they trigger an autoimmune response. This isn’t the best news for your hair because the immune system will then target all ‘foreign invaders’ that it doesn’t recognise, even the healthy cells.

Sugar also brings a heap of problems to our thyroids, our cortisol levels and comes with plenty more issues. So take my advice: cut out what you can.

So what are the best foods for hair loss?

Great question. I’ll tell you – what’s more, I’ll even tell you why…

  • Sesame: Because the seeds contain nurturing fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acid, plus plenty of Vitamins E and K. Sesame oil also promotes circulation, soothes an itchy scalp and gives added moisture to dry or brittle locks. Use the oil in cooking for general health benefits, or warm some up and rub it on your noggin before bedtime. You might smell like a takeaway, but it’s worth it.

 

  • Ginger: Ginger is an anti-inflammatory substance, which is what those of us with autoimmune issues badly need. It also contains magnesium (which helps us relax) and Vitamin B6 (which promotes healthy hair and nails). Eat it as often as you can, and rub some on your patches, too.

 

  • Turmeric: Loaded with all kinds of health benefits, turmeric also comes with some anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting functions that are great when we’re feeling feeble. There’s actually a lot of research to show turmeric’s anti-inflammatory capacities, so I drink it with ginger every day. Note: If you don’t want to get yellow-stained fingers by chopping too much turmeric, you could always buy turmeric capsules instead. This brand is offering a “buy 1, get 3 free” promotion right now – and the BioPerine that’s included is a black pepper extract to help you further absorb nutrients. Yay!

 

  • Spinach & Kale: The green champions that between them are fortified with lovely vitamins A, C, E, K and B6… plus a tonne of calcium, iron, magnesium and fibre, too. You really can’t go wrong with spinach and kale; whether you eat them raw, add them to a stir-fry, blend them in a smoothie or extract their juice, you’re getting a lot of green goodness in the bargain.

A note on gut health…

The above tips involve eating healthily, cutting out harmful foods and ingesting plenty of nurturing ones. But often, for those with autoimmune conditions, that won’t be enough. (Sorry.)

What you might need is a complete overhaul; something that Brenda Leigh Turner from Lean Reset describes as “healing and sealing your gut”. In this great post on overcoming alopecia areata, Brenda talks about how going on an AIP (Autoimmune Protocol, or Autoimmune Paleo) diet helped her grow her hair back in just a couple of months. And since gluten is seen as one of the main culprits in triggering the body’s inflammatory response – which leads to it attacking perfectly healthy hair follicles – the journey begins with going gluten-free.

Brenda’s post was like a revelation to me. Because even though I thought I knew about eating healthily, what foods contain what vitamins etc, I knew very little about the idea of a “leaky gut” or “intestinal permeability”. It’s fascinating stuff, and I won’t go into it all now because that’ll be a post of its own soon!

But basically, what I learned after a lot of research on the topic, is that we alopecians might suddenly have “trigger foods”, even when we’ve never seemingly had a problem with them before. They could be making our alopecia much worse and the condition could be reversed entirely if we just knew what foods to eliminate. And how do we do this?

Well, we start off by being pretty strict on ourselves; cutting out dairy, gluten, legumes and unsprouted grains for a couple of months and replacing them with fish, lots of fruit and veggies (but not “nightshades” like peppers and tomatoes), plus taking a good probiotic and gut-healing supplements. And that’s what I decided to do.

Food for thought!

I’ll be honest. I tried this diet for about 6 weeks and I felt great afterwards. But because I wasn’t sure what exactly the problem was – gluten, dairy or neither – I fell off the wagon again!

I still don’t eat dairy but I’ve recently been to a functional medicine doctor and am awaiting test results. I’ll post about that soon! 🙂

In the meantime, load up on those greens, savour the sesame, cut out the caffeine and give sugar a sweet kiss goodbye. Not only will you feel better on the inside, you might just notice some sprouting on the outside, too. Bon appétit!

Lady Alopecia xxx

Related posts:

If you like this post, maybe you’ll like these ones, too:

1. Yoga – Read my review of a special retreat centre on Ireland’s west coast.
2. Meditation – Learn how it can help with hair loss and happiness!
3. Travel – My thoughts on how travel can affect your health.
4. Silly Stuff – Like the bald celebrities I’ve got a crush on.

12 Responses

  1. Aw amazing- congratulations- Hope you have an amazing wedding day! I’m sure you will! My boyfriend thinks my patches seem hairier ( fine blonde hair) and it’s now 2 and 1/2 months into the intolerance diet. I think they do feel fuzzier but will continue and see what happens over next few months. Have tried pepper mint oil tonight so again fingers crossed for that too! M x

  2. Yes the 3 key foods I was told to cut out were ‘cows milk , eggs, and wheat’. I am so curious to know if there is any link to this and Alopecia areata. I have tried to research but not been able to find lots of information on it . That’s so interesting That your shedding reduced. I have been doing it for 3 weeks and have definitely noticed an improvement in my skin so fingers crossed it will also help the patches!!! I have had IBS for years and I am thinking that if you can work on your gut then this will in turn help reduce inflammation in your body and thus your hair!! Don’t blame you for falling off the bandwagon at xmas!!! Everyone needs to indulge at xmas! Yes please keep us posted on how your are getting on! Another thing I think has helped is applying fresh aloe Vera to the patches- I know you have written an article on this. I notice that if the patches are slightly pink and inflamed – the aloe Vera actually reduces the redness instantly which is amazing! Please please keep us posted on any new info you have ! This blog has really really amazing when I have been feeling so low . Xx

    1. That is so interesting, that you were told something so similar to me! I’ve actually been asked to a lay panel for ALopecia UK and one of their research proposals is all about the link between gluten and alopecia. Will be great if it gets cleared and we get actual results! I definitely agree with your point about the gut and inflammation – the gut/brain connection is something I’m fascinated by and doing a lot more research into now. Yes, I will of course keep you posted, although my wedding is next month so I’m not going to start the diet until after then after all…I’m taking supplements in the meantime and avoiding dairy, eggs and wheat but not being too strict on myself until afterwards! Aloe is the best, isn’t it? I love it! Also check out my new post about peppermint oil, I think you’ll find it interesting…:)

  3. Hi lady alopecia,

    You’re website is amazing. Thank you so so much .I am suffering with alopecia areata and have done for the last 2 years and I’m suffering with extreme health anxiety . I have taken on your advice and seen a nutritionist and have a lot of highly intolerant foods. So I am cutting these out and am going to try and reduce the inflammation in the body. I was just wondering how you Are getting on with your nutrition and whether you have seen any positive results?

    Thank you vey much in advance .

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for your feedback, it’s really appreciated. I started the site to hopefully provide other people with the information I never had and I’m so glad that you’re finding it useful! Interesting also that the nutritionist flagged some food intolerances…out of curiosity, did these include wheat, dairy, eggs or tofu? They were my big markers! I saw some great improvements when I went on an AIP diet – which not only included cutting out certain foods but had a big supplementation plan also. My hair stopped shedding and improved its texture, my skin cleared up and I noticed much less anxiety, too. Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon a bit at Christmas! But I’ll be restarting the diet properly next month and plan to record my progress on my YouTube channel…will post a full case study here too. Stay tuned, and good luck with reducing your inflammation also…would love to hear how that goes!

  4. Thanks for this this is amazing. I just went to the doctor the other day and got told I have alopecia.. was so very shocked and upset and still letting it process in my mind. I am a hairdresser also so I do have a bit of knowledge about this, but with the shock of my body showing me to slow down with the stresses of life my mind went blank and was walking blind..
    This is where this amazing site and pages have really helped me be at a little more ease and clearer mind on how to help my little head 🙂
    So I’m very nervous about washing my hair again incase I find clumps come out(even though that is probably not going to happen that way in my case) but I’m very worried on what shamp&cond to use.
    This has been a lovely help and hopefully I can find something that works for me

    1. Hi Abbey,

      Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m really sorry to hear about your alopecia. It’s never an easy thing to hear, but probably even more so in your line of work – where you’re surrounded by hair all the time. But like you say so well, it is often your body’s way of asking you to slow down a little in whatever way you can.

      I’m so glad that you’re finding some comfort in this site and that you’re gaining something from my posts. Please don’t feel worried about washing your hair in case of more shedding, it might need to happen as part of the hair growth cycle but alopecia doesn’t have to be permanent! Try those nutrition tips I mentioned and check out this post I wrote about the different shampoos available. Wishing you all the best. 🙂

  5. I did just this and my hair is coming back – even my eyebrows and eyelashes. Only thing is that they’re white hairs. But I’m just happy that I am growing hair. I’m sure I’ll have some color in my hair soon enough. I’ve been grain, gluten and dairy free for 4 months now, and according to my nutritionist, it takes 8 months to fully heal the gut. I’m willing to ‘do the time’ for my hair back. I’m also about 95% organic and even switched my body products to natural products. If I can eat it, I can put it on my skin. :0

    1. Hi Jodi,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience – amazing to hear that it’s working for you!! And don’t worry about the white hairs, that happened me, too. As this post explains, they are a good sign! Sounds like you’re really on the right track (for your hair and overall wellbeing) so keep up the good work! 🙂

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