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Hair Care

DHT Blocker Foods: Your Fridge Can Fight Hair Loss

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a product of the testosterone hormone, responsible for male sexual attributes. But too much DHT can lead to hair loss in men – read how it works and what DHT blocker foods can you eat to protect yourself from hair loss.

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Why do you need to eat DHT blocker foods?

Excess testosterone and, consequently, DHT may sound like a good and masculinizing thing. However, too much DHT can lead to hair loss in men genetically predisposed to androgenic alopecia, and far from making them feel masculine and vibrant, it can affect their self-esteem.

Male androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of baldness in men, affecting 30-50% of them by 50. Genetic factors and androgens play a crucial role in causing this hair loss where family heritage makes you more or less prone to suffer from it.

What does this mean? If baldness runs in your family, you likely suffer from it. Genetic susceptibility causes the hair follicles on the scalp to over-respond to DHT, quickening their growth cycle and consequential loss.

Male pattern baldness is a prevalent condition that, although not life-threatening, significantly impairs men’s self-esteem and overall quality of life, even younger men.

Why does testosterone cause baldness?

Testosterone is the male hormone par excellence. Its function dates from before birth, being crucial for the male sexual organs development as well as the anatomical characters.

Testosterone metabolism occurs thanks to an enzyme called alpha-5-reductase (A5R), which sponsors the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This small but essential enzyme is in all cells, including the hair follicle in the scalp.

Baldness due to androgens is caused by a gene that increases this enzyme’s function. How? If you have the gene, the enzyme produces too much DHT, and consequently, DHT affects the hair follicle, causing it to work at full speed without growing any hair.

Your hair is meant to grow a little every day, meeting the necessary times for the new hair growth. This hair activity is constant and cyclic, given in phases.

Some hairs grow during a normal hair cycle, some rest, and some fall out to make room for new ones. The expected daily hair loss is 50 to 100 hairs, so there is nothing wrong with losing hair from time to time.

stages of hair growth anagen catagen exogen

Hair has three main growth phases:

  • Anagen
  • Catagen
  • Telogen

Each hair strand is in a different phase.

Anagen is the growth phase, and almost 80% of your hair is in this phase. Catagen is remission or rest, and telogen is when the hair falls out to make room for the new anagen hairs growing underneath.

Each phase has a time for the old hairs to shed and the new ones to grow. If the gene runs in your family, you are likely to go bald because the hair follicle does not function properly, and the hairs do not complete their growth due to the enzyme malfunctioning.

When you are balding, you lose a lot of hair every day and do not grow new ones, or the new ones are almost invisible and very different from the previous ones.

DHT induces male pattern hair loss

Male hair loss has a unique pattern. Thick, strong hairs shed and are replaced by tiny, weak, fine hairs. The most affected areas are the temples, vertex, and mid-scalp.

The shedding process begins with the hairline receding. You may see that your forehead is more notorious, that your crown is more visible, that your pillow has more hairs every day, or that your regular haircut no longer looks good on you.

How fast the process occurs also depends on genetic susceptibility. Those with a greater gene predisposition may go bald in their younger years or even in their teenage years. The opposite is true for those with a lower predisposition who may experience slight hair loss and not go bald until their 60s or 70s.

How can I stop the DHT conversion?

A DHT blocker is a substance that either inhibits the conversion of testosterone to DHT or reduces the DHT buildup on the scalp.

Since DHT is the leading cause of hair follicle weakening and shrinking, stopping its action is vital to prevent, slow, or stop hair loss.

A follicle overloaded with DHT becomes small, receives few nutrients, functions in imbalance, produces more oil, and does not allow hair to grow, so stopping DHT-follicle binding is the first step against hair loss.

There are many ways to stop DHT, including medications, DHT blocker products, and some foods.

For those who don’t want to take risks regarding the side effects of medications like Finasteride (an alternative to Minoxidil), DHT blocker foods are an excellent start.

What are some DHT blocker foods?

scientist testing dht blocker

Green tea

Green tea is an herb rich in powerful antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, containing catechins and derivatives. Of these, the most active is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which stimulates human hair growth through stimulation of dermal papilla and modification of 5-alpha-reductase activity, which converts testosterone to DHT.

You can either take green tea as a drink or as an extract in dietary supplements. There are also topical formulations that you can apply directly to the scalp.

Including green tea in your daily routine can not only work as a hair loss healing complement. It also provides antioxidants, glycemia-lowering, lower cardiovascular risk, and anti-allergic effects.

Pumpkin seed

The pumpkinseed is a DHT blocker rich in fatty acids, sterols or phytoestrogens, and tocopherols. The oil made from this potent seed inhibits 5-alpha-reductase activity at a daily dose of 400 mg for 24 weeks or more. This action is due to phytosterols and lipids acting in synergy.

By choosing pumpkin seeds as an ingredient or supplement regularly, you will also be preventing other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anti-estrogenic, and antioxidants.

Saw palmetto

The saw palmetto extract or oil is rich in fatty acids (almost 90% of its composition), carotenoid-rich sterols, tannins, beta-sitosterol, etc.

Studies have confirmed that saw palmetto, specifically its beta-sitosterol and fatty acids, inhibits the 5-alpha-reductase. It is considered an alternative to Finasteride because its effects are comparable and work similarly in blocking DHT.

Saw palmetto is not only promising for male pattern baldness. It also works against benign prostatic hyperplasia (which also works in baldness), increases metabolism by stimulating appetite, and improves urinary flow.

Grape seeds

Grape seeds are rich in anthocyanins, catechins, vitamin E, linoleic acid, flavonoids (resveratrol), proanthocyanidins, and other chemicals.

Studies have proven that grape seed extract oil proanthocyanidins are active against hair follicle cells, making them go from telogen to anagen phase quickly, stimulating their growth.

However, as remarkable as it seems, these studies were in laboratory settings in vitro. It remains to be clarified, but there is no doubt that grape seeds are promising and can be a great supplement against hair loss.

Rosemary

For years rosemary has been famous for its effects on hair. Many have used its tea to make hair grow in length, and the results have been convincing.

Fresh rosemary leaves and buds contain rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, rosmanol, and many other natural antioxidants that make it a perfect ingredient for the scalp.

Especially caffeic acid, 1, 8-cineole, and rosmarinic acid are potential therapeutic agents that, when applied to the scalp, improve blood flow similarly to Minoxidil. Studies confirm that there are no effects differences between both, which makes rosemary a promising natural alternative to Finasteride.

You can use rosemary directly on your scalp in oil or herbal tea at least three times a week.

Coffee

Caffeine has emerged in recent years as a promising and effective agent against androgenetic alopecia. Recent studies confirm that caffeine stimulates the metabolism and proliferation of hair follicles, being powerfully effective in androgenic alopecia where the follicles remain in remission or shedding phase.

In addition, once applied to the skin and scalp, it is quickly absorbed, making it reach its target faster: the hair follicle.

Zinc-rich foods

Research has confirmed that low zinc levels are closely related to hair loss. Zinc is an essential mineral for the body’s immune functions and is found naturally in many foods. Its deficiency leads to hair loss.

The zinc benefits in hair include hair bulb protectors, immune strengtheners, and DHT blocker production.

Among the foods rich in zinc and phytosterols, you will find:

  • Spinach
  • White mushrooms
  • Kale
  • Sesame
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Oysters

Best way to consume zinc-rich foods to block DHT

To take full advantage of the DHT blocker foods and their properties, we recommend eating them as naturally as possible. Wash spinach well and eat the greenest and youngest leaves. The rule also applies to vegetables. It would be best if you cooked or roasted white mushrooms instead of boil or fry.

Almonds, hazelnuts, and sesame are ideal for eating daily as snacks or topping for breakfasts or salads.

Oysters contain so much zinc that a small portion of 100g can provide up to 182mg of it. A single serving complies with 110% -1200% of the recommended daily amount.

To make the most of its zinc richness, be careful when eating them; they should be fresh and extracted from clean water.

Lycopene-rich foods

Lycopene is a powerful, natural antioxidant found in many foods and seeds. As an antioxidant, it works by protecting cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It is in all red fruits and tomatoes are the food that contains it the most. It is in all red fruits, and tomatoes are the ones that contain it the most.

Lycopene in hair loss plays a crucial role in blocking DHT and decreasing oiliness, dandruff, and follicle damage. It also helps to soften the hair.

You can find lycopene naturally in these foods:

  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Banana
  • Carrot
  • Mango
  • Guava
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Apricot

How to eat lycopene-rich, DHT blocker foods?

We recommend consuming the lycopene-rich foods in their raw form. Mainly being fruits and vegetables, you can quickly eat them in salads or as snacks during the day. Cooking, steaming, or blending may denature its ingredients, including the one you need: lycopene.

Biotin-rich foods

Vitamin B7, better known as Biotin, is a very stable vitamin widely indicated in skin problems and its appendages, such as hair loss, brittle nails, skin rashes, low blood sugar, among other conditions.

It is widely used in dermatology because, being a vitamin, it participates in many fatty acids and amino acids reactions and glycogen production (gluconeogenesis), which are essential for healthy hair and nails.

Biotin, also known as vitamin H (H stands for Haar und Haut, German words for “hair and skin”), is often prescribed as a dietary supplement to strengthen hair and nails.

However, biotin naturally exists in many foods, such as:

  • Egg
  • Berries
  • Liver
  • Legume
  • Oily fish
  • Banana
  • Cheese
  • Mushroom
  • Avocado

Many lack this vitamin without even realizing it, so increasing the intake of foods rich in it may be enough to stop hair loss.

How to eat biotin, DHT blocker foods?

Consume these ingredients in their raw form. Only cook the eggs with little edible oil or just olive oil. Never fry the mushrooms; cook them or roast them, the same for the liver.

Dietary supplementation with Biotin, although widely advertised, is not a completely effective recommendation proved by science. Fill your plates with color and rich foods full of Biotin instead of opting for food supplements.

Lysine-rich foods

Lysine is an essential amino acid that is not naturally produced in your body, so you must take it from your diet or supplements.

Lysine and hair loss go hand in hand, as it takes part in the formation of elastin, collagen, improves the hair follicle, and strengthens the hair. It strengthens hair naturally because, in addition to helping in the hair fiber composition, it inhibits alpha-5-reductase and slows hair loss.

Here are some foods rich in lysine:

  • Cabbage
  • Beet
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Pear
  • Fig
  • Papaya
  • Turkey meat
  • Soybeans
  • Goose liver
  • Egg yolk

How to eat lysine-rich, DHT blocker foods?

The key thing is to eat the vegetables and fruits in their raw form, preferably in salads or as a side dish. Additionally, never microwave these foods. Heat destroys the vitamins and minerals in them.

The richest in lysine is soybeans, containing more than 2414 mg per 100g serving of all foods. You can eat it in edamame, as it is the most natural and healthy way to do it. So you know, eat soy!

Conclusion

A well-balanced diet with these foods and collagen can be the key to a healthy body, beautiful nails, and strong hair. Don’t forget to eat everything! And include portions according to your metabolism and body.

Although these foods are rich in hair-friendly ingredients, if you suffer from severe androgenetic alopecia, they are unlikely to bring you noticeable improvement on their own. Consult your health care provider.

Hair loss can occur at any time after puberty when male hormones (androgens) levels increase. Taking action early, including dietary measures, can delay this process and make you feel better.

References

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  2. Cranwell, W., & Sinclair, R. (2016). Male Androgenetic Alopecia. In K. R. Feingold, B. Anawalt, A. Boyce, G. Chrousos, W. W. de Herder, K. Dhatariya, K. Dungan, A. Grossman, J. M. Hershman, J. Hofland, S. Kalra, G. Kaltsas, C. Koch, P. Kopp, M. Korbonits, C. S. Kovacs, W. Kuohung, B. Laferrère, E. A. McGee, … D. P. Wilson (Eds.), Endotext. MDText.com.
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  4. Harvey, C. J. (2020). Combined diet and supplementation therapy resolves alopecia areata in a paediatric patient: A case study. Cureus, 12(11), e11371.
  5. Lowering DHT in the body – Birmingham Dermatology Clinic. (n.d.). Birminghamdermatologyclinic.Co.Uk. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from https://www.birminghamdermatologyclinic.co.uk/blog/can-you-reduce-levels-of-dht/
  6. Patel, D. P., Swink, S. M., & Castelo-Soccio, L. (2017). A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin Appendage Disorders, 3(3), 166–169.
  7. Prager, N., Bickett, K., French, N., & Marcovici, G. (2002). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of botanically derived inhibitors of 5-alpha-reductase in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 8(2), 143–152.
  8. Völker, J. M., Koch, N., Becker, M., & Klenk, A. (2020). Caffeine and its pharmacological benefits in the management of androgenetic alopecia: A review. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 33(3), 93–109.
  9. Zgonc Škulj, A., Poljšak, N., Kočevar Glavač, N., & Kreft, S. (2020). Herbal preparations for the treatment of hair loss. Archives of Dermatological Research, 312(6), 395–406.
Dr. Andrea Ortega M.D.
Dr. Andrea Ortega graduated from the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela in 2020 with experience in clinical research in Nodular Thyroid Disease and Thyroid and Endocrine Pathology. She completed her internship in the three most important health facilities in Anzoátegui and completed it with honors. She currently works as a physician in Venezuela and as a writer of medical-scientific content worldwide.

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