7 expert-approved foods that can help reduce hair loss

If you’ve noticed your hair start to thin or fall out, you’re likely stressing over what’s causing it to happen. Could it be a bad diet? Could it be a lifestyle factor or genetics? If it’s hormone related, it could be due to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male steroid hormone that binds to follicle receptors in the scalp and can cause hair loss.

What is DHT and how does it cause hair loss?

“High levels of DHT shrinks the hair follicles and shortens the hair growth cycle. As a result, the hair becomes thinner and more prone to damage,” says Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, consultant dermatologist at MedLinks, New Delhi.

As testosterone in the blood increases, more of it is also converted to dihydrotestosterone, resulting in higher levels of DHT as well, says Dr Namita Nadar, head nutritionist, Fortis Hospital, Noida. “As a response to stress, when you are caught in a fight or flight dilemma, the adrenal glands release hormones, including cortisol, which becomes critical in maintaining the appropriate DHT levels,” adds Nadar. As a standard direction in blocking the production of DHT naturally, look for food sources that are rich in zinc such as mushrooms, green peas, beet greens, spinach, kale, sweet corn, etc. and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, almonds and walnuts.

“The body, on its own, converts 5-10 per cent of testosterone into DHT using an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. By blocking this enzyme by having certain foods, you are at a better chance of preventing hair loss,” adds celebrity nutritionist Nmami Agarwal. Keep in mind that blocking DHT may not promote new growth, but it can help slow down or even stop the current hair loss.

7 foods to add to your diet now to prevent hair loss

1) Turmeric

Turmeric has a high concentration of active compounds called curcuminoids, and there is some evidence to prove the merit of curcumin in keeping the DHT in check. “Preclinical studies have demonstrated that curcumin lowers DHT levels by blocking the action of the alpha-5 reductase enzyme,” shares Dr Chaturvedi.

2) Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains a high percentage of fat from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), primarily in the form of lauric acid, which has been shown to block DHT production. You can cook with it too,” advises Agarwal.

3) Edamame

Edamame beans are young soybeans typically enjoyed as a snack or appetiser. “In addition to being packed with protein and fibre, edamame beans contain isoflavones, which are beneficial plant compounds that may lower DHT levels by blocking the action of 5-alpha reductase,” says Dr Chaturvedi.

4) Flaxseeds

The alpha-linolenic acid found in flaxseeds helps block 5-alpha reductase. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids found in flax seeds can assist the body with handling stress, another major reason for hair loss.

5) Onions

Onions have quercetin, which is a key ingredient to look for while trying to control your DHT. “Quercetin has been shown to inhibit the production of DHT from testosterone by blocking the action of the enzyme alpha-5 reductase and decreasing oxidative stress,” says Dr Chaturvedi. Spinach, kale, apples, and berries are other vegetables that have quercetin, so plan your weekly grocery list in a way that includes them.

6) Green tea

“Green tea leaves have high amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps to stall hair loss by blocking DHT from blocking the hair follicles,” says Agarwal. EGCG are proven to reduce the formation of free radicals, hence protecting the cellular system.

7) Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants and promote healthy testosterone levels. Daily consumption of these seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial for reproductive health. But exercise moderation. Agarwal gives a thumbs up to these seeds if you are looking to upgrade your diet to counter hair fall. “It blocks the 5-alpha reductase enzyme from producing DHT, and hence, reduces hair loss.”

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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