Vegetarianism is a diet backed by many scientific studies that prove its health benefits. This article will analyze the main types of vegetarian diets and how this can have positive effects on hair growth.
Vegetarians and hair care
By now, I believe that everyone knows how important a healthy and varied diet is for the health of our hair and beyond. This also includes the intake of animal-origin foods, so the doubt arises from an omnivorous diet to a vegetarian or vegan one, even more, restrictive from this point of view. The vegetarian diet and attention to hair: let’s find out what must not be missing on our table to have healthy and strong hair!
Vegetarian diet and hair results
Given the variety of benefits guaranteed by a vegetarian diet, it’s no surprise that it can also help hair growth. Let’s see below how this happens:
Inflammation is the natural response of the immune system in the presence of a disease or injury. Usually, the inflammation is short-term and resolves as the disease/injury heals. However, inflammation could persist and, if so, cause further health problems, including hair loss.
For men and women with AGA, this problem is further aggravated because the follicles are already inflamed due to DHT presence. Other causes of the inflammation can worsen the miniaturization of the hair follicles and accelerate the falling process.
What are the most common causes of inflammation?
- Autoimmune Diseases;
- Exposures to irritants in the environment;
- Negative lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking too much alcohol);
- Environmental Allergies;
- Sensitivity to certain foods.
If the above causes are left untreated, they can contribute to aggravating hair problems. Therefore it is strongly recommended to keep them under control.
Vegetarian diet and reduction of inflammation
One way to do this is to choose a vegetarian diet. The vegetarian diet can reduce the number of inflammatory biomarkers present in the body. This phenomenon has been known for a long time, but only recently have researchers understood the reasons. Which ones are they? Researchers believe that the reduction in inflammatory biomarkers has to do with the gut microbiota composition, which is different if you follow a vegetarian diet. As established by the researchers of a 2017 study on the topic, “exposure to animal foods can promote a certain type of intestinal environment which can, in turn, trigger systemic inflammation and metabolic disorders dependent on insulin resistance.”
Lower blood pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood on the artery walls. It is a critical indicator for assessing a body’s health, as too high blood pressure can contribute to numerous risks, such as those of heart failure and heart attack.
An interesting connection has been found between AGA and blood pressure. More specifically, individuals with androgenetic alopecia tend to have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure as they age. Unfortunately, the connection between the two phenomena is not entirely clear, and researchers struggle to explain why this connection.
A 2014 study suggests the connection may be due to a mutation in the fibroblast growth factor 5 (FGF5) gene. This gene is the one that determines the length of hair in mammals, but it also has a role related to blood pressure. However, we will have to wait for more research to understand the connection better.
The vegetarian diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which can significantly improve health. It can also slow AGA’s progression (if the hypothesized connection turns out to be true) and cure other causes of hair loss.
Promotes blood circulation
Like any other organ, the follicles need an adequate amount of blood to stay alive and healthy. When miniaturization is in progress, however, the blood flow is reduced, and consequently, so is the delivery of nutrients and oxygen.
When this happens over an extended period, the hair loss will worsen, and eventually, the hair will stop growing. If this phenomenon is not treated, it will lead to permanent baldness.
Once this is clarified, you will understand why it is important to promote blood circulation to the scalp with massages, exercises, micro-needling, etc. Even a diet change, for example, choosing a vegetarian one, can help achieve this result.
The vegetarian diet can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels – two factors play a crucial role in human health. A vegetarian diet can also help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the follicles, with the primary goal of losing their hair.
Lower your cholesterol levels
Speaking of cholesterol levels, what is the connection between AGA and heart risks? Research published in 2000 investigated the connection between male hair loss and the risk of coronary heart disease. A total of 22 males between the ages of 40 and 84 participated. After 11 years, the participants answered a questionnaire about their hair loss. The results showed that, compared to non-balding men, those with frontal baldness had a 1.09% higher risk of coronary heart disease, those with mild baldness 1.23%, moderate baldness 1. 32%, and severe 1.36%.
In this regard, the researchers concluded that “baldness seems to be an indicator of a greater coronary risk, especially in men who already suffer from hypertension or high cholesterol.”
It is also exciting to know the relationship between cholesterol and androgen production since androgens (and in particular DHT) contribute to miniaturization and thinning. What is the best way to lower your cholesterol level and avoid an increased risk of hair loss? Change your diet and choose a vegetarian one. The vegetarian diet has been shown to lower the cholesterol level thanks to the lower intake of animal fats that it entails and the higher fiber intake that it favors.
It reduces stress
Stress plays a significant role in hair loss but is sometimes too underestimated. Exactly how significant is the role that stress can play on baldness?
In 2017, researchers showed that women going through incredibly stressful exam sessions entered the telogen phase more quickly than those who were not experiencing stressful times.
The reason for increased hair loss during times of stress is inflammation. Stress can increase the level of cytokines, which are indicators of inflammation.
There are several ways to reduce stress, such as meditation or yoga, but diet can also play an important role. A study published in 2010 showed that those who follow a vegetarian diet tend to be in better health and mood than non-vegetarians. A vegetarian diet can improve mood and reduce systemic inflammation.
Improve your nutritional intake
As with any diet, it is crucial to keep your nutritional intake under control to enjoy its benefits. Let’s see four ways to do this below.
Enough vitamin levels
People who follow very restrictive diets, such as vegetarians, often face a lack of vitamins. Vitamins are necessary for healthy hair, so it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough.
Vitamins that can promote hair growth are niacin, zinc, selenium, and biotin. Many of these are found in meat and fish, but vegetarians can rely on fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamin B12 is another essential nutrient for our hair’s proper growth; unfortunately, it is not found in vegetables or plant sources. If you’re a vegan, there are many nutritious soy milk brands and delicious grains enriched with vitamin B12. If that’s not enough, your doctor may also recommend a supplement to take by mouth.
Increase your iron intake
Green-colored vegetables and lentils are an excellent source of iron. However, this substance contained in plants is not easily absorbed by the body and that present in animal derivatives. Iron deficiencies are quite common for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet. This causes hair loss, fatigue, and extreme weakness. The daily amount of iron needed by our body is 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women. If you are vegan, you need 1.8 times that amount.
Since our body does not easily absorb plants’ iron, consider taking a supplement by mouth if the levels are very low (under strict medical advice). Beets, spinach, okra, kale, broccoli, watercress, dried apricots, plums, figs, soy, almonds, and grains are the best foods on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Iron is a mineral needed to make red blood cells. Low iron levels can cause a condition known as anemia, which in turn can have numerous negative health effects, such as:
- Reduced mental acuity
- General weakness
- Vertigo and lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
Low iron levels can also cause incredibly brittle hair and increase its fall. All of which is to say that it is important to maintain adequate iron levels through diet and, if necessary, with supplements.
Contrary to popular belief, iron is found in animal products such as meat and vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Some vegetarian foods that contain iron are:
- Bean sprouts;
- Pumpkin seeds;
There are also several foods to which iron is added, such as grains and oats.
Make sure you are getting protein.
A vegan diet should necessarily include a wide range of high protein foods to provide the necessary reinforcements for the renewal and nourishment of hair cells. Protein also serves for the proper growth of healthy tissue for the heart, lungs, and liver. The body will automatically use them to strengthen vital organs first, which means that your hair will be the first to suffer in case of deficiency. Proteins contain essential amino acids for the hair, which can only be taken from external foods, as our body is unable to produce them independently.
Some plant-based sources of protein are quite simple to include in the daily routine of your vegan diet: quinoa, seitan, tofu, soy products, beans, nuts, lentils, and chickpeas. Supermarkets today, fortunately, offer a wide choice of foods; chickpea burgers, hummus, and seitan ragout are delicious if well cooked!
Hair is made of keratin, a protein produced in the skin by keratinocytes. The body needs protein to build hair, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. These foods have it in good amounts, for example:
- Ricotta cheese;
- Greek yogurt;
Your Menu can easily add most of these foods to the daily diet.
Focus on alkalinity
Although the vegetarian diet suggests a general idea of healthiness, it is not always said that it is a healthy diet. For example, it isn’t if it’s mostly focused on bread and sugars. The alkalinity of food is an important factor even if you are following a vegetarian diet. What does “alkalinity” mean? Alkaline foods are those that leave an alkaline “ash” in the blood after consumption. This helps to keep the PH level balanced, which is crucial for the scalp’s good health.
If you suffer from AGA or are predisposed to this condition, it is all the more important to keep this under control. Some alkaline foods are:
As you increase your intake of these foods, you also need to decrease your intake of acidic foods, such as carbonated drinks, energy drinks, bread, pasta, and artificial sweeteners.
General Precautions and Warnings
If you consider whether or not to start a vegetarian diet, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The vegetarian diet can be healthy, but this entirely depends on what you choose to consume. Even without meat and animal derivatives, there are many other foods (such as bread and sugar) that can nullify the health benefits. This does not mean that these foods should be avoided entirely, but only that it is appropriate to stop their consumption.
The vegetarian diet may not be suitable for people with a history of anemia or other blood disorders or pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you choose to follow this diet, make sure a doctor appropriately follows you to monitor your vitamin and mineral levels.
Conclusions on the vegetarian diet
Hair loss, whether caused by AGA or other conditions, can be devastating. However, many tricks can help slow down the thinning process or even stop it altogether. One of the best things to do in this direction is to change your habits and lifestyle for the better, for example, by choosing to follow a healthier diet such as a vegetarian one.This doesn’t mean that a vegetarian diet is good for everyone or that other diets can’t help baldness anyway. However, the many benefits that this guarantees cannot be ignored. However, it should be borne in mind that other habits can also add benefits to those of the diet, such as quitting smoking or drinking alcohol. This is why it is recommended to change your lifestyle to succeed in curbing hair loss or even stopping it.
Furthermore, let’s not forget the natural vegan products to be used directly on the scalp: we don’t always check the incidence of shampoo, conditioner, and hairspray; however, it would be useful take this habit as a routine to avoid harmful ingredients. Many cosmetics contain chemical elements, sometimes harmful.
A low vegan diet can harm your hair, which is why it is vital to monitor your diet continually. If you are vegan, make sure you get enough nutrients into your hair as well, and remember, your body will undergo some cleansing! Act correctly and, after having expelled all the chemicals in circulation from the body, your hair will become shiny like never before!