Hair can be highly personal. Our mane is a reflection of our style. Sometimes, we may take our locks for granted, not realizing what we’ve got until we realize our hair is going, going gray or is (almost) gone. Graying and thinning hair are a sign of the times – age is a factor in losing color and male-pattern baldness.
However, what are the odds men experiencing graying or thinning hair can eat their way to more luscious locks?
The answer is a bit complicated.
On one hand, like other body parts, our hair requires nutrients to stay healthy.
“Eating a balanced diet that includes specific foods rich in essential nutrients can support hair health,” said Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietician with Balance One Supplements.
However, other factors, like age, are likely more important. Still, as Nia Rennix RD, MA, MSc of The Rennix Way said, “Much of how quickly your hair grows is determined by your genetics, which cannot be controlled. Other factors like consuming a healthy diet can be controlled.”
Here’s what to fill your shopping cart with if you want to try to eat your way to better hair.
How much can diet help gray hair, and what should you eat to keep your color (at least for a little longer)? Best dished the delicious details.
Can diet help with graying hair?
Best says that filling your body with nutritious foods may affect your hair’s outward appearance.
“Diet can potentially aid in managing or preventing gray hair through several mechanisms,” Best said.
These mechanisms include:
- Preventing nutrient deficiencies. Best explained that low levels of vitamin B12, Biotin, and certain minerals like copper and zinc have been linked to premature graying. “Ensuring that your diet provides an adequate supply of these nutrients can support overall hair health,” Best said.
- Minimizing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can trigger signs of premature aging, like skin wrinkles and gray hair. Best said antioxidant-rich foods “counteract oxidative stress, potentially slowing the graying process.”
- Anti-inflammatory benefits. “Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which can benefit the scalp and hair follicles, possibly delaying the onset of gray hair,” Best said.
What foods to eat to slow graying
Diet isn’t a surefire way to stop graying, but consuming nutritious foods is worth a shot (and boasts other benefits). Best recommends foods like:
- Strawberries. These antioxidant-packed berries can aid in fighting oxidative stress that speeds up aging. Throw strawberries in oatmeal or yogurt or consume them on their own as a snack.
- Walnuts. Loaded with omega-3s, walnuts may help slow inflammation and put off the day you notice your first gray hair. Walnuts are easy to nosh on when you’re on the go but also play nicely with oatmeal or in salads.
- Salmon. The omega-3-rich fish is a stellar entree with brown rice and veggies. However, the versatile fish also tastes excellent on a sandwich or atop a salad.
Can filling your plate with certain foods help you fill your head with hair? We again asked the experts to spill the beans on diet and male-pattern baldness.
Can diet help slow male-pattern balding or hair loss?
Yes, but an expert dishes that diet isn’t the most significant influence on hair loss.
“Male pattern balding, or androgenetic alopecia, is primarily influenced by genetic and hormonal factors,” Best said. “While diet can impact the overall health of your hair, it has limited direct influence on male pattern baldness. However, maintaining a balanced diet with essential nutrients like protein, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants can contribute to overall hair health.”
Limited direct influence doesn’t mean there’s no influence.
For instance, Best explained, “Protein is crucial for the formation of keratin, the protein that makes up hair, and iron deficiency can lead to hair loss.”
In short, consuming nutritious foods can’t hurt.
The best foods for male-pattern baldness
Give these foods a shot if you’re looking to slow down that receding hairline.
- Eggs. Rennix says this staple breakfast food is rich in Biotin and protein, two nutrients that can help with hair growth. Don’t put all your eggs in a breakfast basket — they’re versatile. “I like making hard-boiled eggs to mix in a salad,” Rennix said.
- Beans and lentils. Best suggests these plant-based proteins. “Legumes like beans and lentils are rich in iron and protein, both of which contribute to healthy hair,” Best said. “Incorporate them into soups, stews, or salads. A simple option is to make a lentil soup or add kidney beans to a vegetable stir-fry.”
- Greek yogurt. Another good source of protein, Best notes that Greek yogurt is also full of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, “which may support hair health.” Best suggested eating Greek yogurt for breakfast with honey and berries or as a base for creamy dressing in salads.
- Sweet potatoes. Rennix says this starch is “a good source of beta carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A and is important for promoting hair growth..” She loves baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon — a perfect fall side.
- Avocados. Rennix says avocados are a great source of healthy fats and Vitamin E. “You can eat avocados plain, make guacamole, put into smoothies, or actually make chocolate pudding with it,” Rennix said.
While diet may help with graying hair or male-pattern baldness, Best suggests discussing concerns with a primary care doctor. If needed, they can refer you to a specialist, who can come up with a plan of action customized to you.
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