Are there foods that help prevent hair loss? As a registered dietitian with TELUS Health MyCare™, this is a question men ask me from time to time. It’s perfectly normal for guys to lose their hair. Most people shed anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day, which doesn’t cause noticeable thinning because new hair keeps growing in.
However, for many men, regular hair loss turns into something more: male pattern baldness. As worrying as this visible hair loss can be for guys, it’s also perfectly normal. By the age of 35, roughly two-thirds of men experience some noticeable hair loss and thinning. By age 50, this number climbs to 85 percent.
While there’s nothing you can do about two of the main causes of hair loss—getting older and family background—the good news is that by cutting out certain unhealthy behaviours and amping up a few healthy ones, you can keep your manly mane looking fuller for longer. So let’s explore the dos and don’ts of healthy hair.
Do: Eat foods rich in antioxidants
Anti-what-now? These molecules neutralize unstable molecules, called free radicals, that can harm the cells in your body, including those that grow and form new hair. That’s why eating plenty of foods rich in natural antioxidants can help you out in the hair department.
These foods can help slow down a receding hairline:
- Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries
- Spinach and kale
- Kidney beans and pinto beans
- Walnuts, pistachios, almonds
- Carrots, avocados, broccoli and potatoes
- Dark chocolate
Don’t: Dine on junk food
The flipside of hair-helping foods are processed foods that have too much salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Eating too much of this junk food can make you pack on pounds, which in turn can lead to obesity, and research has linked obesity to increased hair loss.
Do: Eat your vitamins and minerals
Goodbye junk food, hello meals full of vitamins and minerals essential to healthy hair growth.
- Vitamin A is abundant in sweet potato and carrots.
- Vitamin B12 is found in tuna and salmon.
- Vitamin E is one of many healthy nutrients found in almonds and avocados.
- Iron is found in foods like red meat, beans and seafood. Surf & turf anyone?
- Zinc is found in beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, seafood, poultry, tofu, the list goes on.
Do: Eat protein throughout the day
As well as building muscle, eating protein-rich foods supports hair growth. Protein is required to build the cells that make up our hair, so make sure to add some of the following meat and meatless options to your daily diet:
- Chicken breast, turkey breast, and lean pork. All three are also slim on calories and fat.
- Tuna. The chicken of the sea is an easy lunchtime sandwich fix. Grab a can of tuna, mix it up with a bit of plain yogurt and green onion, and serve.
- Greek yogurt. A 170-gram container of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein.
- Eggs. Try an omelet to add some protein to your breakfast. Two large eggs contain 12 grams of protein.
- Quinoa. Throw these cooked rice-like grains on a salad or serve as a side dish for a proper protein top-up.
- Beans and lentils. You can’t go wrong with meals like black bean tacos, chickpea curry, hummus, or lentil soup.
Other ways to slow down a receding hairline
Now that you know what to eat and what to avoid, here are a few other tips that can help keep hair thinning at bay.
Don’t: Smoke cigarettes
Research shows that smoking tobacco can damage your hair follicles and increase your risk of developing hair loss. A 2020 study compared male-pattern baldness in smokers and nonsmokers and found that 425 out of 500 smokers had some degree of hair loss, while only 200 of 500 nonsmokers did.
As an added benefit, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Butting out is MUCH easier said than done, of course — and that’s where these articles and other free resources come in with step-by-step tips for kicking the habit, one smoke-free day (or hour) at a time.
Do: Keep stress in check
As if we need another reason to reduce the stress in our lives, Harvard University researchers recently confirmed that stress can lead to hair loss. Learning how to reduce the negative effects in your life can be as simple as getting outside, taking your dog for a walk, gardening, or mowing the lawn.
Never underestimate the power of human connection for coping with stress. Making the time to connect with your kids, hang out with buddies, or make friends as an adult are powerful ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
Also, be sure to check out the MindFit Toolkit created by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation for more resources.
Don’t: Overdo it with hair care
It’s true: You can show your hair too much love! Research shows that excessive shampooing, brushing and styling of hair can inhibit its growth.
Do you have any tips that you have learned over the years about how to prevent hair loss? Share in the comments below!