Lady Alopecia holding some fruit

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. This includes following an ‘alopecia diet’.

You see, by taking active steps to improve your physical and mental health, you might 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; things to include and things to avoid.

Lady Alopecia eating loads of food.
Emma lovely face
Transparency disclaimer

Hi, I’m Emma. I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences with alopecia. I also participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program – meaning I may earn a small commission from the Amazon products I link to. But I only endorse ones that I’ve tried or trust! This fascinating Disclaimer Page has more info.

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Foods To Include

Go green

kale

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

Kale, in particular, is great if you have any digestive issues. This is down to its high-fibre content, and the fact that 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.

Things To Avoid

Excessive 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.

Why, you might ask? Well, caffeine interferes with the body’s natural cortisol levels, meaning this ‘stress hormone’ can cause you to feel overly anxious, upset and stressed out. Now, I’ll admit it – I do enjoy my morning cup of coffee (unfortunately I can’t resist!) – but any more would give me a severe case of the jitters. So cut down the caffeine to a single cup a day, if you can.

Sugar Highs

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.

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. Tip: Fresh garlic and fresh onion juice are also great natural ingredients to rub on your scalp and to boost circulation! 🙂

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 of supplements contain BioPerine, a black pepper extract that helps you absorb nutrients faster. Plus, get 25% off when you use the promo code VTA25 upon check-out. 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. I enjoy them either as a salad or in a stir-fry (tip: for the kale, massage it for a few minutes in olive oil first!) Most recently, since starting my AIP diet (more on that in a sec), I’ve been adding spinach to avocado, frozen banana and cashew milk and enjoying a green smoothie every morning through my very favourite bamboo straw – which a friend made me for my wedding party! Whatever way you eat yours, you’re getting some green goodness in the bargain.

Gut Health and Autoimmunity

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”. If you’ve got this condition, it really doesn’t matter how healthy your diet is, as it prevents you from absorbing those nutrients in the first place. So the only way around it is to heal your gut with a cleanse, followed by a supplementation plan and an elimination diet – essentially, to press the ‘reset’ button and give your immune system a fresh start.

It’s fascinating stuff, and it led me to read the even more fascinating book, The Autoimmune Solution, which kickstarted my whole nutrition and autoimmunity journey. 

What I’ve 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.

What Supplements Should I Take?

Lady Alopecia holding protein powder

Another great question! Like I said, before you can benefit from all the nutrients your new diet can bring you, you’ll need to make sure your gut is in good condition.

When I went to see a Functional Medicine doctor in July 2019, who diagnosed with gut dysbiosis, I realised that mine wasn’t. So I started taking a powerful probiotic and fish oils regularly (among other things), which reduced my inflammation, gave me a massive energy boost, cleared up my skin and even helped my hair to grow (not all of it, unfortunately, but the condition improved a lot).

The following brands are similar to the ones I tried (which I ordered from a UK site). They are:

  • Probiotic 40-Billion – To get rid of bad gut bacteria and replace it with the good stuff
  • Krill Oil Plus – All the Omega 3s to keep your heart, brain, skin and hair healthy. Yay!
  • Immune Support – These guys make a gut-focused supplement that includes ingredients like beta-glucans and grapeseed extract, both of which I’m on as part of my autoimmune diet – and they’re really helping me. 🙂

Psst… Update May 2020: I actually just tracked down many of the supplements I’m on right now. Check them out here:

Nutri Advanced Protein Powder

Thorne Prime Probiotic

Wileys Alaskan Fish Oil

Thorne Vitamin B

Nutri Advanced Magnesium Blend

Note: I actually took even more supplements the ones above – I know, it’s a lot!

These included two different products from a company called Jarrow Formulas, basically ones to help cope with stress and anxiety, called Natural SAM-e (the red box) and 5-HTP (the 100mg one). You can get those ones on iHerb, with a nice discount of at least 5% when you use the code BNT9810. Yay!

Of course, these supplements may not be exactly what you need as they were recommended based on my own test results. But anyone with gut issues would benefit from taking, at the very least, a good probiotic and fish oils.

So why not give them a try for at least a month? Make sure to write down how your symptoms change. You might notice less “brain fog”, a more balanced emotional state and – fingers crossed – an improvement in your alopecia!

Conclusion: Food for Thought!

I’ll be honest. I tried the autoimmune diet in November 2019 for about 6 weeks and I felt great afterwards. But because I wasn’t sure what exactly the problem was – gluten, dairy or neither – and because Christmas held too many temptations for me, I fell off the wagon again!

But in April 2020, I started the diet again and, after just two weeks, started feeling great! Writing this update, in the middle of May, I’ve really noticed a difference so I’ll try to stick to it. Staying off some of the foods I enjoy can be tough, but my supplements help to keep me feeling strong and healthy!

So, take my advice: Heal your gut first, in whatever way you can. Then 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

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18 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this, my husband has got a big hair-fall problem maybe this post will help us to cut down on certain food products which affect his hair issue.

    1. Thank you for your message, Supriya! I hope it helps your husband like it helped me! I’ve now been on the AIP diet again for just over 2 months and have noticed a massive difference in my mood, energy levels, skin and even a little hair growth…so stick with it if you can!! And feel free to share how you guys get on with cutting out those foods! 🙂

      Take good care x

  2. Hi Emma,

    How are you ? I hope you had an Amazing wedding!!!
    How times have changed since I last wrote in! Hope you are keeping well at this unsettling time.
    Just thought I would give you an update on the elimination diet I tried for 3 months. Jan- April . I eliminated dairy wheat , eggs , rice , corn, red meat.
    I also stopped the contraceptive pill, took probiotic and vit D.
    In the last few weeks I have seen significant improvement in 2 of my larger patches. One of which has been stubborn for over a year. So I have been so pleased with this. A few others are showing promise too. I do however have newer patch around my temple which is frustrating but I’m applying fresh aloe Vera every day and hoPing to see it heal ASAP.
    Since the diet , my scalp feels far less inflamed on the patches and the colour of patches changed from pink to healthy flesh colour .
    I just thought I would send you some words of encouragement on your elimination diet. I too had headaches and I have reintroduced a small amount of dairy ( nothing major ) and feel it has helped the headaches so I feel it was my body’s way of telling me I do need some dairy.
    I am now gluten , wheat, rice , corn and ‘partially’ dairy free and going to continue this way and see how it goes.
    Keep going and I hope your headaches get better and your fuzz continues.
    Aloe Vera has been brilliant so would defo recommend the fresh stuff straight from the leaves!!
    Best wishes,
    M xx

    1. Hello again, dear M… 🙂

      So lovely to hear from you, and thank you for taking the time to update me on your progress! Yes indeed, a very different world since January, I hope you and your loved ones are keeping well and safe. It is so good – and encouraging – to hear how effective the elimination diet has been for you. I noticed you were off rice as well, so even more restrictive than my one now! Actually, when I read The Autoimmune Solution (which first led me on this journey), I followed the plan set out in that and I couldn’t have rice either (or pulses, beans, seeds or nuts…it was pretty tricky!!) My diet this time seems to be a little more flexible although I do notice that if I’ve a lentil or rice-heavy meal I’ll get very bloated with some pains. But thank you for the encouragement about the headaches etc…it’s been a little frustrating to still have them when I’d been feeling so great 3 weeks in – but I had to reorder my supply of supplements so I think going without my protein powder and fish oils even for a couple of weeks had a pretty bad impact! I’ll be back on track with the supplementation plan as soon as they arrive, though. 🙂

      Great to hear the aloe vera is working for you, I’m still using the fresh gel from the leaves (which I keep in my fridge) during the daytime and a mix of PEO and coconut oil at night. So far, so good – the white fuzz on some of my patches is slowly turning into longer white hairs. Interesting to hear that some dairy actually improves your headaches. I think that it might be a similar case for me, and that my body needs red meat, too. But I’ll stay off them until I can slowly reintroduce them without furthering inflammation. I think soy, eggs and wheat are things I’ll need to avoid for good!

      Thank you so much again for your message, M. I wish you continued health and happiness and look forward to hearing your next progress report!

      Take care,

      Emma 🙂

      PS: If you haven’t already, I’d love to invite you to join my mailing list, as that’s where I’ll be sharing my case study of the AIP diet and findings soon!

  3. Hi – new here. My 8 year old son came down with Alopecia at age 7. Starting with one quarter sized patch has progressed to consume most of his head and partial eyebrows. At the time he was on Zantac for what we thought was acid reflux and we ended up finding out was anxiety. (Long story associated with that mess I will spare you). We removed the Zantac and started counseling. He also has the faint red blotchy on the nape of his neck but we have noticed lately that he now has all these baby white hairs in the places he lost hair last summer. He is still losing in some places yet and those locations are completely barren of the baby hairs. Your site is truly inspirational and informative for me where there are not many practical resources out there! So thank you 💕

    We have done lavender EO on his scalp some (with coconut carrier) – wondering if you know anything about lavender and EO – I had read some about it helping. Planning to look into peppermint now as well.

    In the last year or so of this adventure I have placed our family on a more whole foods diet and as much organic as possible. We also do low wheat and low-no dairy. Diet can be more impactful then we give credit (especially in US medicine).

    1. Hi Wendy, thanks so much for getting in touch and for sharing your son’s experience. I’m really sorry he is going through this, I know how scary it is to get it at an early age (although I was slightly older, at 10). And I’m also very sorry to hear about his anxiety, I’m glad he’s now talking to someone about it, though.

      Wonderful to hear he’s getting baby white hairs back, that’s a good sign! And don’t worry, I’m sure that even in the areas that may seem barren now, he will experience regrowth at some stage. 🙂 I really appreciate your kind words about my site, it’s why I created Lady Alopecia – to be the resource I never had – so feedback like yours is wonderful to hear. Thank you.

      Interesting you mention the lavender EO: I normally use it just for relaxation/stress relief but haven’t yet as a hair mask. Have you read my post on the best oils for hair growth? It might give you further inspiration! I also have separate ones on coconut oil and peppermint EO (which are linked in that post) if you’re interested in finding out more. PEO is AMAZING, so definitely try it! In studies of mice, it’s proven to be even more effective than minoxidil. But just make sure you dilute it well in coconut oil (or similar) and keep it well away from his eyes.

      Good to hear about your dietary measures, definitely recommend as little wheat as possible, cutting it all if you can, and cutting sugar, too! I couldn’t agree more with your final point – I have now been doing this autoimmune diet with supplementation for nearly 6 weeks and after just 3 weeks, started to see white fuzz back in the patches I thought were barren too – so diet is a HUGE factor!

      Anyway, apologies for the long reply! But thank you again for your comment and all the very best to your son.

      Emma/Lady Alopecia 🙂

  4. 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

  5. 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…:)

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. 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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