Published January 05, 2011
If you dread trips to the barbershop and cringe every time you pass a mirror, there’s a pretty good chance you’re concerned about hair loss.
Whether you’re starting to see strands of your hair at the bottom of your shower or are just worried that your thick head of hair won’t last forever, there are helpful foods that prevent hair loss. You may be, however, genetically predisposed to hair loss, and if that’s the case, there’s not much you can do but keep your fingers crossed. Making sure certain foods are in your diet will help keep your scalp healthy, happy and, hopefully, hairy. Here are some foods that prevent hair loss, which means you need to stock up.
Fish, eggs and beans
Hair is primarily made of protein and, therefore, it makes sense to eat a protein-rich diet if you’re trying to maintain your healthy hair. However, eating a steak every day isn’t going to help you. High-fat diets will result in increased testosterone levels, which has been linked to hair loss -- so steaks are not among the foods that prevent hair loss. Stick to leaner proteins such as fish (which has a myriad of health benefits beyond just maintaining your hair), chicken, calf’s liver, brewer’s yeast, low-fat cheese, eggs, almonds, beans, and yogurt. Soy milk and tofu are also smart to add to your diet because they are high in protein and low in bad fats.
Iron plays a key role in manufacturing hemoglobin, the part of the blood that carries oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues. When your hemoglobin is at a healthy level, oxygen is properly dispersed. This means your scalp is getting a good flow of blood, which will stimulate and promote hair growth. Adding more iron to your diet doesn’t mean you have to feast on liver day in, day out, but when you’re craving something sweet, remember that dried fruits (like raisins) and cherry juice are packed with iron. Eggs; dates; raisins; dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale; and whole-grain cereals are all high in iron. Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron, so fruits such as oranges, strawberries and lemons should be on your grocery list of foods that prevent hair loss.
Silica may not be a word you commonly hear associated with diet (or foods that prevent hair loss, for that matter). If you’re looking to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss, however, silica will need to be on your menu. The body uses silica to help it absorb vitamins and minerals; if you’re not consuming silica, eating your vitamins might not be helping much. Silica can be found in bean sprouts and the skin of cucumbers, red and green peppers, and potatoes. Remember, when you eat these foods raw, as opposed to cooked, you’re getting more nutritional value out of them.
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Many men who suffer from hair loss are found to have zinc deficiencies. Zinc plays a key role in many of the body’s functions, from cell reproduction to hormonal balance, and all these functions affect hair growth. Perhaps most importantly, zinc manages the glands that attach to your hair follicles. When you’re low on zinc, these follicles become weak, causing strands to break off or fall out. To combat this problem, eat zinc-heavy foods such as red meats, poultry, mussels, shrimp, nuts, and oysters. Excessive amounts of zinc can eventually lead to hair loss, so it’s best to stick to a zinc-heavy diet rather than eat these foods and take a zinc supplement.
It may be tempting to eat fast food, but greasy foods are among the worst culprits for hair loss. If you have a craving for a burger and fries, your best bet is to cook the burger yourself and dice, season and bake some potato wedges (leaving the skins on) to go along with it. Try to limit your intake of excessively cold, spicy and sugary foods as well. These can tax your body, and when your body’s fighting something unhealthy, it’s not functioning at its peak level.
A balanced diet
Just as your overall health will benefit from eating a balanced diet, so too should the health of your hair. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so don’t put foods in your body that speed up hair loss. You may be experiencing a thinning on top already, but you can counteract this (or at least slow it down) by eating from every food group daily -- concentrating on foods that are rich in protein, iron, silica, and zinc.