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Most people who lose their hair do so as they age, with factors like heredity, hormonal changes, and medical conditions (including obesity) playing roles.
But in a new study published in the journal Nature, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University found that a high-fat diet and hereditary obesity can contribute to hair thinning and hair loss.
Obesity impairs nearly every physiological function, but it can also cause hair loss through inflammation and oxidative stress that depletes hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs), in addition to blocking hair follicles from regenerating. That ultimately results in permanent hair loss.
The aging process may also cause hair loss more quickly among obese populations.
The authors behind the latest report came to this conclusion after observing the effect in mice. It only took four days for mice fed a high-fat diet to develop bald patches.
“High-fat-diet feeding accelerates hair thinning by depleting HFSCs that replenish mature cells that grow hair, especially in old mice,” said lead author Hironobu Morinaga.
Obesity caused by high-fat diets can cause dramatic changes to cell structure and lead to tissue dysfunction, including hair loss and thinning.
What you eat will affect what you have to work with up top. Hair-healthy sources for protein include eggs, nuts, beans and peas, fish, low-fat dairy products, chicken, and turkey.
“Hair follicles are made mostly of a protein called keratin,” according to a Healthline story. “One 2017 study of 100 people with hair loss noted several nutritional deficiencies in participants, including amino acids that serve as the building blocks of protein.”