This article has been updated since its initial publish date.
You may already be well aware that what you eat and drink greatly affects the health of your hair. When it comes to hair loss, that doesn’t mean your diet is always to blame. Although not getting enough nutrients can cause hair shedding, other reasons you could be seeing more strands on your brush include aging, stress, illnesses, hormone fluctuations, certain medications you are taking, and genetics. While the only true cure for hair growth is patience and time, the foods you eat and the ones you avoid can help support the process. While you’re making decisions about what to eat each day, here are some tips from hair loss experts on two snacks you should avoid if you’re concerned about hair loss.
It may seem like there’s nothing quite as satisfying as biting into a crisp, salty chip, but hair loss experts say processed snacks that contain sugar and lots of sodium are not the best choice for hair health. “Chips are high in fat, which can lead to hair loss and other health conditions like heart disease,” says Scalp Micropigmentation Specialist Amr Salem at INKredible Scalp. “When it comes to hair loss, the best thing you can do is avoid foods that are high in sugar and salt. These two ingredients are known to cause dandruff and hair loss.”
Like chips and salty snacks, processed snacks that contain high amounts of sugar, like candy, soda, and even cereal, are also not here to support hair health.
“Essentially, higher blood sugar can lead to higher insulin levels, reduced SHBG levels, greater risk of DHT binding to hair follicles, and greater risk of hair loss-amidst other medical conditions,” says Yannis Giantzides, managing director at Harley Street Hair Transplant Clinics. “I would recommend a switch to products that contain steviol glycosides which are the ‘natural sugar substitute.’”
Say it ain’t so — isn’t fish like sushi a healthy source of protein that can help strengthen your hair? On the one hand, yes — but also (depending on the type of fish you’re eating) no, experts say. “Sushi is not the cause of hair loss, but it does contain a lot of sodium and protein which can lead to it,” Salem says. “Salt causes your scalp to overproduce oil and protein makes your hair look greasy.”
Sushi isn’t really the main culprit here — the biggest problem with turning to certain fish as a snack is that some contain high amounts of mercury. “Any food that contains a lot of mercury, so fish like shark and swordfish typically contain a lot of mercury,” Giantzides says. “The main reason is that mercury reacts with zinc in our body. Zinc is the metal that promotes hair growth and mercury affects this process, so we recommend not to eat these fish.”
Best Snacks For Hair Health
The best “snacks” for hair health are probably foods that you don’t consider very snack-like — such as leafy greens and eggs that contain vitamin A to promote hair growth, Giantzides says. But when it comes to turning to a quick healthy snack that you can make ahead of time, save, and enjoy any time, Giantzides recommends sweet potato fries. “Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta-carotene,” Giantzides says. “The body converts this compound into vitamin A, which is linked to hair health.”
If you’re experiencing hair loss that stresses you out, reconsidering what you snack on is a good first step. But remember to always visit a dermatologist who can better assess the cause of your hair shedding and help come up with a personalized plan that works for you and your needs.