Why can hair fall out?
Quite often, in both men and women, hair begins to thin due to exposure to androgens. The main culprit is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Our bodies naturally produce this substance from testosterone using an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
Scientists believe that blocking this enzyme with a special diet helps to reduce the production of DHT from testosterone and thereby protect our hair from hair loss. Many of these studies are not very far advanced yet, but they are still to come!
Here are 6 main hair protectors in our kitchen:
1. Green tea
Green tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world (although in our country fermented tea is preferred, that is, black).
Since the leaves of the tea bush are steamed to obtain green tea, the drink retains more beneficial natural compounds. Among them is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which helps us lose weight and improve heart and brain health.
The good news is that this beneficial compound also protects hair follicles from the harmful effects of DHT! Research is still underway, but you can already drink green tea for your pleasure.
2. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is used in cooking and cosmetology. It contains a high percentage of fat from medium chain triglycerides, most of which is in the form of lauric acid.
Scientists have proven (albeit only in animal studies so far) that this fatty acid blocks DHT production.
While bright heads are piling over test tubes, we can replace butter in some recipes with coconut oil – it is very useful.
3. Onions (and other quercetin-rich foods)
Onions are used in a variety of dishes to add spice and sweetness. It is low in calories but boasts high in antioxidants like quercetin.
In preclinical studies, quercetin has been shown to inhibit the production of DHT from testosterone by blocking the action of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and reducing oxidative stress. The rats on which the tests were carried out became fluffy and shaggy, but, unfortunately, scientists have not yet reached humans.
What other foods contain quercetin?
Here are the real champions of this super flavonoid (content in milligrams per 100 grams)
- Fresh capers – 233.84 mg
- Raw sorrel – 86.2 mg
- Raw red onions – 39.21 mg
- Raw watercress – 29.99 mg
- Capsicum – 27.6 mg
- Elderberry – 26.77 mg
- White cabbage – 22.58 mg
- Okra (okra) – 20.97 mg
- Cocoa powder – 20.0 mg
- Cranberry – 14.0 mg
- Goji berries, dried – 13.6 mg
- Chives – 12.6 mg
- Plums – 12.45 mg
- Arugula – 7.92 mg
- Blueberries – 7.67 mg
- Sea buckthorn – 7.58 mg
- Lingonberry – 7.4 mg
- Beans – 6.82 mg
- Figs – 5.47 mg
Turmeric is a widely used spice in cooking, but it is also popular as a dietary supplement. Scientists have proven that turmeric is excellent at reducing inflammation, reducing arthritis pain, optimizing blood cholesterol levels, and helping you recover from exercise. Impressive talents!
The health benefits of turmeric come from curcumin, an active compound in the curcuminoid family. Preclinical studies have shown that curcumin lowers DHT levels by blocking the action of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.
But scientists are still careful – they do not undertake to argue that people will have the same effect. Time will tell.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin is a real symbol of autumn, cozy dinners and spicy hot vegetable soups. Each super fruit contains hundreds of healthy seeds that are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants.
It turns out that pumpkin seed oil can promote hair growth in men.
In a six-month study, 76 men with emerging bald patches on their foreheads were studied. Those who took 400 mg of a pumpkin seed oil supplement daily showed more hair growth than those who received the placebo. However, there were no significant differences in hair thickness between groups.
The blocking of a special enzyme affected the production of dihydrotestosterone from testosterone, which means that the subjects’ hair did not interfere with growth. There were other active ingredients in the supplement that the study participants took, so scientists cannot yet say with complete certainty that the whole thing is in pumpkin seed oil. Let’s see what further research shows!
Edamame are young soybeans that are commonly consumed as a side dish or snack. Not only are edamame beans high in protein and fiber, they’re also rich in isoflavones – beneficial plant compounds that can lower DHT levels.
A group of scientists studied male participants for six months, whose diet was supplemented with soy or milk protein. In one group, soy was high in isoflavones, in the other, these beneficial compounds were removed from the beans. And the third, the control group, received whey protein.
It turned out that both groups receiving soy showed lower levels of dihydrotestosterone than the control group. The decrease was not very significant, but it can nevertheless have practical applications. Since research has shown good results for soy protein regardless of isoflavone content, it may be due to other active ingredients in soy.
Soy has long been known for its effects on testosterone in men. But most of the evidence indicates that if you consume beans in moderation, you will be fine.
How else is hair loss treated?
Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, and elevated DHT levels are just one of them. If you notice a “hair fall”, contact the trichologist and take the tests that he will prescribe.
Depending on the results, your doctor may prescribe drugs to dilate your blood vessels or block 5-alpha reductase. Do not take medications without a doctor’s prescription – they are not harmless. Side effects of the most popular 5-alpha reductase inhibitors include breast swelling and tenderness, irregular periods, headaches and decreased libido.
If your hair is thinning due to a lack of nutrients, vitamins can help.
For example, a study from Switzerland found that 38% of women suffering from hair loss were deficient in biotin. This B vitamin plays an important role in hair health. Other nutrients that are good for hair can include protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins C and A.