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Can Being on a Plant-Based Diet Help Hair Loss?

While the incident between comedian Chris Rock and actor Will Smith at the Academy Awards was unfortunate, it has put a spotlight on alopecia - the common autoimmune disease that causes unpredictable hair loss. 

It's estimated that almost 7 million people in the US suffer from this disease, including actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, who recently announced on her Instagram page she was struggling with alopecia. While there's no cure, a Fork Over Knives 2020 article did address how hormones and diet impact hair loss. 

The article said that men and women who have higher levels of testosterone seemed to have more thinning hair and baldness. The article also examined diets from different cultures and found baldness was less common in Asians than white civilizations until their diets became more "Westernized."

It's a common misperception that going vegan could lead to thinning hair, but it's important to eat a well-balanced plant based diet that includes many nutrients. Even non-vegans have Vitamin D and B-12 deficiencies.

Hair loss, particularly in women, can be mentally devastating since it's not seen as societal norm. There's still much research to be done in hair loss, diets and hormones, but one thing is for sure, Ms. Pinkett Smith is beautiful with or without hair. 

The Fork Over Knives article recommends these tips to maintain healthy hair and skin on a plant-based diet:

  1. Avoid animal products.
  2. Avoid adding oils in cooking, and favor oil-free foods at restaurants.
  3. Avoid oily foods (e.g., peanut butter, avocados) until you know how they affect you.
  4. In anecdotal reports, sugary foods seem to make hair lifeless.
  5. Have adequate protein from plant sources. Beans and bean products, such as tofu, tempeh, and soymilk, give you plenty of protein without the negatives of dairy products or meat. And supplementing with plant-protein (such as shakes) have helped some people keep their hair fuller.
  6. he antioxidants in vegetables and fruits will help protect your skin.

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