Have you ever wondered what foods can help to increase hair volume and growth? Are you dealing specifically with alopecia? After being diagnosed with androgenetic alopecia nearly 7 years ago, I have found specific foods and practices that contribute to a balanced scalp and healthy hair. To be clear, a healthy diet and lifestyle are essential for hair growth, along with balanced hormones, stress management and a positive mindset. Even more, specific ancestral foods can be very beneficial for the scalp, hair volume and growth, specifically alopecia. The below foods help support all of the above + contain the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to increase hair growth potential. Here we go…Eating for Hair Growth and Alopecia!
*Note: It is important to utilize Functional Medicine & Functional Lab Testing to eliminate possible food intolerances, heavy metals, gut dysbiosis, thyroid issues, etc; this is essential for eliminating shedding.
Top Foods for Hair Growth (Eating for Alopecia)
Beef Liver…for Alopecia
Beef liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. High in vitamin A, B12, heme iron and minerals, beef liver is essentially a food-based multi-vitamin. Organ meats have traditionally been consumed for thousands of years and were deemed more superior than muscle meat, but have fallen out of popularity in modern society.
Ancestral wisdom has passed down the notion that, “like supports [or strengthens] like.”
Therefore consuming organ meats may actually strengthen your own vital organs, such as the liver. To be more specific, just as the human liver stores important nutrients, beef liver is a complete source of stored essential vitamins and minerals. In light of this, the health properties of beef liver are abundant: great for healthy teeth and gums, skin and hair, energy, mood, metabolism and methylation. You may find creative recipes to cook beef liver, like beef liver meat balls, but FYI organ meats do have a strong flavor. Because of this, it may be easier to consume them in supplement form. Find an organic, grass-fed beef liver supplement here.
High in minerals like magnesium, leafy greens help make hair, skin and nails healthy and strong. Moreover, because magnesium helps make neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin, leafy greens are powerful foods for mood and stress balance. Genetic hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) is usually triggered by massive amounts of stress or trauma, so magnesium-rich foods can be essential for decreasing stress on the body and getting back to a state of balance. In addition, magnesium has a calming effect on body, helps us sleep, helps our body to be more resilient to stress, trauma, psycho-social stressors, work-related stress, burn out, etc. It is recommended to consume at least 2 cups of leafy greens per day. Cacao is also a good source of magnesium. Read more about the health properties of cacao here.
Cod Liver Oil
Ask your grandparents about cod liver oil and they’ll probably tell you how they used to endure (or spit out) tablespoons of this rich, superfood everyday as a child. Why? Because the generations before us understood just how healthy omega 3-rich foods like cod liver oil are for the body. Not only rich with Omega 3’s, this particular fish oil is high in vitamin A and vitamin D, two crucial vitamins many Americans today are indeed deficient. You can certainly up your intake of wild caught, fatty fish like cod, salmon and sardines, but so many of us have an imbalanced ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 (should be 1:3). So, it’s not a bad idea to take cod liver daily just as our grandparents did and reduce unhealthy forms of omega 6, like processed vegetable oils. Find cod liver oil here.
Grass-Fed, Organic Collagen
Organic, grass-fed collagen, gelatin and bone broth have gut stabilizing effects (help heal the gut) and therefore the gut-brain connection. Without proper digestion and gut function, the gut-brain communication is disrupted, resulting in nutrient deficiencies and hormone disruption. In addition, because these foods are high in glycine (a calming neurotransmitter/amino acid), they become wonderful mechanisms for healing and repair. On top of this, these foods are great for anti-aging, hair loss, cellulite, skin and are a good source of protein. Find a good brand of collagen here.
Vitamin C Rich Foods…for Alopecia
Orange, red and yellow foods of all kinds (found directly from nature) are incredibly healthy for the body and pack a tremendous amount of vitamin C, which is a vitamin critical to immune support, adrenal support and ultimately reducing stress. Foods such as red and yellow bell peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, ginger, pineapple, raspberries, oranges, tangerines, lemons, rosehip, acerola cherries, camu camu, amla berry, as well as papaya and mango, are incredible foods for supporting iron absorption. Optimal iron storage is imperative for proper hair growth. One of my favorite recipes in the fall and winter is stuffed bell peppers, as red bell peppers are literally one of the highest food sources of vitamin C. Find a great food based vitamin C here.
What is Ancestral Eating?
Since my diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia, I have changed my diet + lifestyle for optimal hair growth. No longer a vegan or vegetarian, I have since adopted an autoimmune paleo-style diet. This started because of my many food intolerances: wheat, dairy, soy, yeast, oats and conventional sugar. In addition, I have come to value the idea of ancestral eating.
Ancestral eating means getting back to foods that our ancestors ate.
This is so much closer to nature (what our biochemistry requires) than modern conventional food. If you have hair loss, I suggest getting labs such as HTMA, GI MAP, Dutch Test and food allergy panel to eliminate possible hidden stressor causing inflammation in the body. Then, look into how your ancestors ate. This may look different for you, depending on your heritage. All in all, eating the above foods and eliminating the ones I was greatly intolerant to has become a huge reason why I have been able to manage my alopecia.
In divine health,
(2015). Pub Med Health. “What is Inflammation?” retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072482/
Mercola. “Anti-Inflammatory Foods, Herbs & Spices.” retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/02/02/anti-inflammatory-foods-herbs-spices.aspx
Nordqvist, C. (2017).”Everything You Need to Now About Inflammation.” retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php
“Nourish Your Way to Health & Happiness with Desiccated Beef Liver.” retrieved at https://ancestralsupplements.com/products.html
Bauman, E. (2015). Therapeutic Nutrition Textbook, Part 2. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College
Kresser, C. (2012). Nutrition for Healthy Skin: Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Biotin, and Sulfur. Retrieved from https://chriskresser.com/nutrition-for-healthy-skin-part-2/