Male Pattern Baldness and the Role of Nutritional and Lifestyle Changes
Male pattern baldness (also referred to as androgenic alopecia) is a very common hair loss concern among men. It causes the hairline to recede in a telltale pattern. When androgenic alopecia begins, the hairline above the temples begins to recede and expose more of the scalp. Eventually, the receded hairline takes on the shape of a large letter “M.” At the same time, the hair at the crown of the head thins out.
As the hairline continues to recede and overall hair loss continues, the affected person may eventually become completely bald. Male pattern baldness is a notoriously challenging condition to fight and may not be reversible. However, research shows that certain lifestyle changes may slow down the balding process. Here are a few things to know about male pattern baldness and how nutritional and lifestyle changes can impact it.
Potential Causes of Male Pattern Baldness
It can be hard to choose the right hair loss treatment if you don’t understand the underlying cause of your condition. Unfortunately, male pattern baldness is one of those mysterious conditions that scientists are still trying to understand. The exact cause of androgenic alopecia is particularly furtive and has not yet been well-established by science. However, there does appear to be a strong link between androgenic alopecia and both genetic and environmental factors.
Genetics and Androgenic Alopecia
Men with a family history of male pattern baldness are more likely to experience it themselves. Some family genetics may cause affected persons to respond abnormally to androgen hormones. The androgen dihydrotestosterone seems to be particularly problematic for people with androgenic alopecia. Pre-pubescent boys do not experience hair loss because androgen hormones must be in place before male pattern baldness begins.
Variations in the androgen receptor gene also seem to be particularly problematic for those with a family history of male pattern baldness. However, it’s still not understood exactly how these variations cause increased hair loss.
Ethnicity is also thought to affect a man’s likelihood of experiencing male pattern baldness. Caucasian males are most affected by male pattern baldness. Asian men are less likely to go bald, and Native American, First Nations and Alaska Native peoples are rarely affected by alopecia.
Environmental Factors and Androgenic Alopecia
Though genetics seem to have the strongest link to androgenic alopecia, environmental factors may also play a role. Environmental factors that disrupt hormone balance may be particularly troublesome for those with a family history of male pattern baldness. For example, exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals found in harsh cleaning products, plastics, pesticides, and other products may interfere with androgen receptors. This disruption may, in turn, contribute to the progression of male pattern baldness.
Oxidative stress is one of the primary culprits behind premature aging. It may also play a role in hair loss. Oxidative stress refers to physiological or psychological strain that may be caused by negative external or internal stimuli. This strain can come from both environmental and lifestyle factors. Anything from eating a poor diet to smoking and drinking can cause oxidative stress.
The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Androgenic Alopecia
You may not be able to control your genetics or predisposition to male pattern baldness. But keep in mind that genetics is likely just one piece in a complicated hair loss puzzle. You may have more control over your hairline than you realize. By making purposeful dietary and lifestyle changes, you could potentially slow down hair recession — especially if you start early.
Living a healthy lifestyle can help your body function optimally. In addition to improving your longevity and quality of life, taking good care of your body may help with hair growth. Here are some important things to know about the role of diet and lifestyle in androgenic alopecia.
How Diet Can Affect Hair Loss
Certain nutrient deficiencies can contribute to hair loss. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D, iron, or zinc in your diet, you’re more likely to experience balding. Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow, so without it hair growth slows. When iron levels are too low, the body may attempt to divert iron stores from hair follicles to more essential parts of the body.
But of all the possible nutrient deficiencies, zinc deficiency appears to be most closely linked to male pattern hair loss. You can get zinc from meat products and protein-rich plant foods, such as nuts and beans, whole grains, and dairy products. If you can’t get sufficient zinc from the foods you eat, you may want to consider supplementation.
How Lifestyle Changes Can Affect Hair Loss
Your overall physical and psychological health can have a huge impact on the health and thickness of your hair. Some lifestyle choices are associated with hair loss and could make male pattern baldness progress more quickly. Smoking is one lifestyle choice that may be closely associated with increased hair loss. If you’re looking for ways to slow down hair loss, quitting smoking is a great first step.
Reducing stress or finding healthy ways to cope with stress can also help reverse the symptoms of male pattern baldness. Stress may increase androgens and thus cause androgenic alopecia to progress more rapidly. You can reduce stress by getting more sleep, meditating, connecting with others, and managing your workload responsibly. But what works for you will be unique to you. It may take some trial and error, but be patient.
It Takes Time
Male pattern baldness impacts millions of men, so you’re certainly not alone. Though no cure currently exists for the condition, you may be able to manage it with dietary and lifestyle changes. Remember, it will take time to notice any changes. Be patient and kind to yourself throughout the process.