When it comes to keeping our calorie count down, sugar is bad. We know that. Most people understand what sugary foods do to their waistlines. But few people know how sugar affects hair loss. So, can sugar cause hair loss? Absolutely. And it can be just as damaging to hair as it is to the rest of your body.
A high sugar intake spikes your blood sugar levels. Over the long term, high blood sugar levels can damage hair follicles and potentially accelerate hair loss. Here are the seven things you need to know about blood sugar and hair loss.
1. How Blood Sugar Level and Hair Loss Are Directly Related
Hair loss among people with diabetes is relatively common. Not because of diabetes itself, but because of what it does to their blood sugar levels.
The link between sugar and balding in women has to do with blood circulation. High blood sugar levels cause poor circulation. When your blood isn’t flowing like it should, it has a much harder time reaching all the way up to the hair follicles on your head. The result? Weak hair follicles that simply cannot grow. And if they’re cut off from proper circulation for too long, the roots might not recover.
Knowing your blood sugar levels is important to pinpoint the cause of hair loss, even if you’ve never had a history of problems. Blood sugar might not be the sole reason for your hair loss, but it can definitely be a factor.
2. Why Blood Sugar Spikes Are Bad for the Hair Growth Cycle
There are two major reasons why blood sugar spikes are bad for the hair growth cycle.
First is the nutritional shock that high blood sugar can have on your hair follicles. Blood sugar spikes can coincide with extremely high (or low) levels of glucose, testosterone, and numerous other hormones. These changes affect the content of your blood, which is what delivers nutrients to your hair follicles. A sudden sugar shock forces the hair to try to make sense of what’s happening in order to resume the hair growth cycle.
Second is the indirect damage caused by changing hormone levels. Hormones play a big part in hair growth and whenever their levels fluctuate, so too will the lengths of each phase of your hair growth cycle. Again, this situation likely wouldn’t be the sole cause for hair loss, but it can and will accelerate it.
3. Sugar Causes Damaging Scalp Inflammation
We know that sugar causes inflammation in the body. And it also causes inflammation of the scalp… just in a different way.
When it occurs on the scalp, it’s not the visible swelling or hot pain that we normally think of when it comes to inflammation. In fact, “cold” scalp inflammation occurs when the blood is not circulating properly. This causes serious damage to your skin. If your scalp feels cold to the touch, it could be inflammation due to sugar!
High-sugar foods and scalp inflammation go hand-in-hand. Hot water compresses are good for short-term relief. But the long-term solution is to do everything in your power to improve and regulate your blood circulation, and that means moderating your sugar intake.
4. Cutting Back on Sugary Foods Is Not Enough
We know that good hair starts with our diet. So to stop sugar from affecting our hair, we should just eat less sugar, right?
Not exactly. Eliminating sugar can affect hair loss. But the answer isn’t necessarily to cut out all sugary foods. It’s not just what you remove from your diet, it’s what you choose as the replacement.
Replace those empty sugar calories with foods rich in hair growth nutrients like protein, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals like iron and zinc. Make a conscious effort to pack these things into your daily diet. If you’re having trouble, look into a daily hair growth supplement that takes care of everything.
5. Exercise Can Be the Missing Link
Exercise doesn’t just fight the bloating or weight-gaining effects of sugar. It actually helps our bodies metabolize sugar.
Metabolization is the process of breaking down the food we eat and converting it into vitamins and nutrients that our body needs. Sugar is used for energy and other important functions, but excess sugar that doesn’t get metabolized flows into our bloodstream and affects our blood sugar levels. We’ve already mentioned those effects here. So let’s just say they’re not good.
Getting consistent exercise, especially cardio, helps ensure that your body is metabolizing sugar like no one’s business. You’ll stay fit, and your hair will be at its best!
6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Drink a lot of water. You know you should be hydrating in general. But when it comes to hair, drinking more water helps you fight off the effects of sugary foods on your hair.
When your body is hydrated, it can actually “force” the proper blood circulation that that might be inhibited by too much sugar. Whenever you improve your circulation, your hair follicles are better able to get the vitamins and nutrients they need from your diet.
7. Crash Diets and Juice Cleanses Are Bad News
Crash diets or cleanses may seem like harmless ways to help you reach your goal weight. But juice detoxes are controversial, and most nutritionists warn that they’ll give only temporary weight loss results. Plus, as an extra kicker, cleanses could seriously be hurting your hair growth! One of the main causes of sugar-related hair loss is simply not getting enough other nutrients to counteract the effects of sugar.
In addition to the huge amount of sugars that you’re adding to your diet with juice cleanses (and other similar diets), you’re also depriving your body of protein. Protein makes up 90% of your hair strands. It’s easily one of the most important hair growth nutrients. Depriving your hair follicles of protein can accelerate hair loss, and weaken your strands.
Before you begin a crash diet or cleanse, be sure that you understand the effects. If you’re getting ready to start a juice cleanse, it might be a good idea to add a supplement to your daily routine. Keep everything balanced!