8 Foods That Are Bad For Hair

The truth is there are times when we crave what is unhealthy for us even if we know that we should not be eating them. However, there are times when we have hair issues and we are doing all that we can externally to repair hair and to get it to look healthy when the issue may be an internal one.

Recently, my scalp was tender and my hair looked limp and lifeless for no discernible reason, I was doing all the right things, however, I overlooked one important point, my diet was in the pits. I allowed my craving for sodium-laden foods to completely derail my efforts to maintain a healthy diet and my hair suffered. Luckily, I realized my mistake and got back on track in time before my hair started shedding in earnest.

The following foods are not healthy for the body and if they are an addition to your regular dietary faire they may cause some health issues in the long run.

1. Sugar

Say what? There are so many things that contain sugar that are so delicious. According to Nancy Appleton in her book, Lick the Sugar Habit, sugar is like a drug, *gasp* and there are more than 146 reasons to not use sugar in your diet. A few of the hair related reasons are:

  • Sugar can make our hair turn gray prematurely because of its aging effects.
  • Sugar can lower the amount of Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in the blood; Vitamin E is essential for healthy hair growth.
  • Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function, the more sugar you eat the more elasticity and function you loose, our hair is the fastest growing tissue in the body.
  • Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein, this goes without saying, protein is very important for the structure of bones, teeth and hair.
  • Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body. The B vitamins are very important to hair and sugar uses a lot of B’s when it is being digested, this could go towards your hair.

Does this mean no sugar whatsoever in your diet? Well no, it means that you should eat natural sources for your sugar intake, like fruits and vegetables (beets, carrots). If you can’t quit cold turkey, then do it gradually, sugar is not good for you.


2.  Sodium (Salt)

I have intense salt cravings and a love affair with Doritos and Fries. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, sodium should be limited to less than 2,300 mg a day — or 1,500 mg if you’re age 51 or older, or if you are black, or if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Sodium is essential to maintain the right balance of fluid in the body and for the contraction and relaxation of muscles, so it is not a substance that should be avoided all together. It should be had in moderation; sodium in excess of 2000mg (1/2 teaspoon) per day on an extended basis can cause hair to shed.

3. High Animal Protein

An ounce of meat or fish has approximately 7 grams of protein. An excess of animal protein can create uric acid build up in the blood because the body cannot digest the extra. This uric acid is bad for hair and can cause hair to shed.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Depends on who you talk to, MSG is a slow killer or it’s the best thing that has ever happened to the food industry. The US FDA classifies MSG as relatively safe, independent scientists say not! Unfortunately, for consumers, MSG is found in so many products including ‘health foods’ that it seems to be omni-present, once you eat processed foods any at all MSG or its derivatives are lurking somewhere. MSG is known to cause a variety of health problems including hair breakage. It can be found in salty snack chips, sausage, soups, luncheon meats and sauces.

5. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are man made and unnatural and there is nothing healthy about them. There are documentations of artificial sweeteners leading to severe allergies, deafness, PMS, migraines and hair loss.

6. Artificial Color

If you would think twice about putting artificial coloring on your hair it should be a much bigger issue when it comes to your body. Avoid foods and drinks that use artificial colors, and don’t give them to your children either.

7. Enriched Bleached White Flour

According to Dr. Edward Group many of the good things that were originally in the wheat flour was stripped out and the iron that is added back to the flour is metallic iron and toxic! Metallic iron is not available for use by the body, and was never meant to be consumed in the first place. Enriched flour is absorbed by the body not as wheat or a grain, in which case your body could use the energy slowly and effectively, but as a starch. Enriched bleached white flour because has no fiber and no nutritional value. How does this affect your hair? Your hair needs the iron and other minerals and vitamins that are available in organic wheat flour to flourish and do well. Too much enriched white flour in your diet is not a good thing.

8. Soft Drinks

One tin of soda (12 ounces) contains (10 teaspoons of sugar!). Sugar was already addressed but apart from the sugar, sodas contain cornsyrup and artificial sweetners and colors and empty calories. Apart from the fact that soft drinks consumed over time will make you fat and cause tooth decay amon other things, this drink is dehydrating to the body and is one of the key causes of dry hair!

Honorary mentions include: full-fat cheeses and convenience foods. These two can cause an oily hair dandruff condition and dry scaly hair. It is best to eat natural the majority of the time to maintain a healthy body and luscious hair.


Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., Lick The Sugar Habit, Avery; 2nd edition (April 1, 1996)