Carbonated drinks like soda and cola, fruit juice concentrates, energy drinks, tea and coffee containing sugar– these are all drinks that we enjoy. But next time you get your favourite barista drink, consider skipping the extra sugar on top. Regular consumption of sugary drinks cause more harm than good. At Evolved Hair, we are often asked about the effects of one’s diet on hair, so we decided to write a blog regarding relation of sugar and hair loss.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much for Hair Loss?
Let’s start with basics. There are many forms of sugar and some are naturally found in fruits and vegetables. That’s all OK. Then, there are the so-called ‘free sugars’ added to food such as cakes, biscuits, chocolates, cereals, or fancy barista drinks. There is also extra sugar in honey, maple syrup, fruit juices, and smoothies. Your free sugar intake should generally be less than 5% of the calories for the day. This means that adults should not consume more than 30g of free sugars per day, equivalent to 7 sugar cubes. As a reference, a single cola can can have as many as 9 sugar cubes!
Sugar And Hair Loss
High sugar intake can contribute to multiple health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, changes in bone health, as well as hair loss. Generally being in poor health reflects in your hair health as well. One study was recently done in this regard.
In 2022, Tsinghua University in China investigated the link between sugary drinks and male pattern hair loss. Study involved 1,028 male participants with healthy scalps, aged between 18-45, in China. The questionnaire provided information about their hair status, diets, lifestyle, psychological status, and socio-economic information. Participants were divided into groups differentiating those with and without male pattern hair loss.
Study found that those who did not have any hair loss consumed on average 2.5L sugary drinks per week, while those with male pattern hair loss consumed over 4L sugary drinks per week. The paper explains that poor diets can lead to less glucose available to cells in the hair follicles, and therefore less energy available to make them grow. Additionally, the regular high consumption of sugary drink increases risk of developing anxiety and depression, which further results in chronic stress, a major contributor to hair loss.
The study also has many limitations. The hair loss status, amount of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, and all other personal data were gathered via an online survey. In other words, male pattern hair loss diagnosis was not performed by a dermatologist, trichologist, or hair loss specialist. Additionally, many other factors such as genetic predisposition, medical history, existing medications, hormonal disorders, mental health status, and hair care routine were not necessarily looked upon.
Till date, no empirical study has been written to ascertain the tangible impact of levels of sugar consumption to hair loss.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
Do you want to know more about the main, scientifically proven cause of hair loss?
Male Pattern Hair Loss or Androgenic Alopecia, is a genetic type of hair loss and is naturally progressive over time. Signs of male pattern hair loss include:
- Receding hairline
- Thinning hair on the crown (top of scalp)
- Increased hair shedding
- Seeing your scalp more easily through your hair
The hormone responsible for this hair loss type is dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An enzyme called 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone to DHT, gradually making hair follicles smaller and weaker over time, eventually leading to hair loss. The main cause of hair loss is the prevalence of DHT which is triggered by a genetics and age in any individual.
What To Do If You Notice Hair Loss
The sooner you talk to a hair growth specialist, the quicker you will receive a tailored treatment plan. An expert in hair loss will discuss all these causes with you, along with a treatment plan.
The only two medically proven treatments to stop hair loss is Minoxidil and Finasteride. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that increases the blood supply, which increases the nutrients delivered to the hair follicles resulting in the stoppage of hair loss. Finasteride works by inhibiting the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and therefore, significantly reducing the production of dihydrotestosterone. As a result, the hair follicles stop miniaturising and are encouraged to grow stronger hair in most cases.
Biotin and zinc are key ingredients for the maintenance of healthy hair growth, and Saw Palmetto extract has been found to inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme.
If you are interested in restoring hair, there are many non-surgical and surgical treatments. Non-surgical treatments include PRP Hair Treatment, Hair Mesotherapy and Laser Hair Therapy. But if you are looking for a permanent solution to restore hair, Hair Transplant is the only viable solution.