Most of us are already familiar with the idea of healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon are linked to numerous health benefits, from better heart health to a stronger immune system. Unhealthy fats, including fat from red meat and fried foods, are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests that a diet high in unhealthy fats may also be linked to hair loss.
In a recent study published by Nature, a team of scientists from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University decided to investigate the effects of a high-fat diet on the body. They used adult mice to conduct their experiment and fed some of them a high-fat diet. Other mice received a standard diet. Since previous research suggests that overweight people are more likely to have thinning hair and bald spots, the team theorized that mice on a high-fat diet would experience more hair loss.
The researchers were right. In just four days, the mice on the high-fat diet developed bald patches. Older mice suffered from this effect the most, which implies that older people on a high-fat diet are the most likely to experience hair loss.
The Scientific Connection Between Fatty Foods and Hair Loss
According to the study authors, fatty foods can deplete hair-follicle stem cells, or long-lived cells in hair follicles. During a normal hair growth cycle, hair-follicle stem cells activate and replenish themselves to create a healthy root, resulting in hair growth. In an abnormal cycle, these stem cells fail to activate. The researchers concluded that a high-fat diet could contribute to an abnormal cycle by introducing inflammatory molecules into the body. These molecules cause oxidative stress and block the regeneration of hair follicles, resulting in smaller follicles and faster hair loss.
How to Prevent Further Hair Loss
If you’ve been experiencing more hair loss than usual, you’re not alone. While many people view thinning and baldness as problems that affect men, an estimated 50 percent of women will experience noticeable hair loss in their lifetime.
Fortunately, hair loss caused by a high-fat diet is preventable. A study published in Archives of Dermatological Research found that a Mediterranean diet could decrease the risk of androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia is the type of hair loss that typically begins above both temples, causing the hair line to recede. While this condition is not reversible, consuming plenty of fresh herbs and fresh vegetables could slow down its onset.
Another article published in the Dermatology Practical & Conceptual Journal stated that nutritional deficiencies may impact hair structure and hair growth. So, what can you do to slow down hair loss? You can start by cutting down on baked goods, cured meats, cheese, fried foods, and other foods that are high in saturated fat. Consuming whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals could prevent you from developing a vitamin or mineral deficiency that may contribute to hair loss. In addition, eliminating stressors in your life may help you see new hair growth.
It’s important to understand that thinning hair is complicated and involves many different factors. But by eliminating one factor – fatty foods – you may slow down the rate at which you lose hair.