Hair loss is most commonly caused by a genetic predisposition to balding, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes it is lifestyle factors that trigger particular kinds of hair loss. One of these factors may be the excessive consumption of food containing artificial additives.
They say, ‘you are what you eat’ and that’s true to some extent. Our bodies, and our hair, need nutrients to thrive and stay healthy. Yet many foods are laced with artificial additives and preservatives which have no nutritional value.
Can these additives cause hair loss?
Research shows that hair loss can be triggered by certain food additives such as caramel food dyes which have undergone particular types of processing. Caramel colourings which are manufactured using caustic chemicals, sulphites or ammonia, are used in a number of everyday food and drink products, including soy sauce, beer, whisky and dark breads. Recently the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced new studies into caramel food colouring – the most popular food and drink dye in the world – after it was linked with cancer during a beverage study in the USA.
There are also some natural additives which have been linked with hair loss including cochineal. Cochineal extract and Carmine go by the ‘E’ number E120 and should not be confused with the synthetic food colouring, Cochineal Red (E124). The two principal forms of cochineal dye are cochineal extract, a colouring made from crushed, dried insects, and carmine, a more purified colouring made by extracting then treating carminic acid from female cochineal beetles. Cochineal dye and carmine are often used as a red food colouring in fruit drinks, sweets and medicines. It is thought that these natural additives may cause hair loss as well as an array of allergic reactions, including anaphylactic-shock.
The artificial sweetener, aspartame is often found in diet drinks and low-calorie foods. The FDA lists a whole range of side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumours, birth defects, arthritis, bloating, depression, epilepsy, sexual problems, and hair loss. Back in the 1970s, a study showed that those who drank considerable quantities of diet drinks containing aspartame experienced noticeable hair loss. The soft drinks industry is currently working on products to meet the consumer trend for natural alternatives to aspartame, with Coca-Cola recently launching its first naturally low-sugar product, Coca-Cola Life, which is made with Stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute.
Opt for organic?
Many individuals are turning to natural and organic alternatives to processed foods, and it’s certainly true that avoiding highly processed foods is a good way to ensure you aren’t consuming large quantities of artificial additives.
If you prefer, you can scour the labels of items on your supermarket shelves and look out for these ingredients:
|High fructose corn syrupSodium benzoate||Artificial coloursMonosodium glutamate (MSG)||AspartameSodium nitrate|
Processed and pre-packed food and drinks usually contain one or more of these ingredients, so try to eat fresh, healthy food wherever possible. This will help keep your hair in optimal health and may even protect it against lifestyle-related hair loss. It is important to note that male and female pattern hair loss is not preventable – but a healthy lifestyle is a great way to support any treatment plan you may undergo.
Browse our constantly updated collection of over 1,000 male and female patients’ progress images and feedback in our photographic Hair Loss Success Stories gallery. If you are worried about hair loss and would like to speak to one of our experts, call us now on 020 7730 6666 or send us a message to book your free, discreet one-on-one consultation at either of our Central London clinics. Alternatively, if you are unable to visit us, you can complete our Online Consultation Form instead.