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Dandruff & Diet: How What You Eat (and Don't Eat) Can Cause Dandruff

Diet for Dandruff Prevention

Did you know that some foods in your daily diet might be the cause of your dandruff problem? From food allergies to nutritional deficiencies, there are many potential diet-related causes of dandruff. In this article, we take a look at 7 dietary habits that may help you get rid of stubborn dandruff.

#1:  Step Up Your Zinc Intake

The scalp has a high concentration of sebaceous glands which produce skin oils (sebum) to protect the scalp and hair. However, excessive sebum on the scalp can contribute to dandruff as the oil nourishes the Pityrosporum ovale fungus, which is believed to cause dandruff. Clinical trials have shown zinc supplementation to be effective at controlling sebum production. Zinc, which requires vitamin B6 for proper absorption in the intestines, is found in a variety of foods, the best dietary sources being oysters, red meat, and poultry. Zinc from plant sources such as legumes, nuts, and grains is of a different type than that found in animal sources and is not readily used by the body, although oats are a good source of zinc that the body can easily use.

#2:  Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

A diet high in sugar (and high-glycemic foods which rapidly raise blood sugar levels) can make dandruff worse in some people. Dandruff is often attributed to the Candida yeast, and sugary foods are thought to promote the (over)growth of this yeast in the body. In addition, sugar depletes the body of B vitamins, which should be a key component of any anti-dandruff diet. Also the levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E in the body are negatively affected by a high intake of sugar. When adopting a low-sugar diet, read food labels carefully. Many processed foods, even if they do not taste particularly sweet, often contain high amounts of hidden sugar.

Allicin may help fight dandruff due to its anti-fungal properties.

#3: Add Allicin to Your Diet

Allicin is a potent health promoting compound that is found in garlic, and other members of the Allium family such as onions and scallions, when the plant is crushed or chopped. It has been shown to promote heart and cardiovascular health, prevent and treat cancer, and reduce high blood pressure. It has also been suggested that allicin could be helpful for people with dandruff due to its anti-fungal properties.

#4:  Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in B Vitamins

If you are struggling with dandruff, be sure to eat plenty of foods rich in B vitamins. B vitamins are a complex of vitamins that often work together and that typically co-exist in the same foods. Evidence suggests that a sufficient intake of the B vitamins, particularly of vitamins B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (riboflavin), can help reduce dandruff. It has been suggested that inefficient metabolism of carbohydrates and fatty acids could be one of the underlying causes of dandruff — B-complex vitamins have long been known to play a crucial role in metabolic processes. Furthermore, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), found in a variety of foods including beans, meat, poultry, fish, and some fruits and vegetables, can help control sugar cravings.

#5:  Eliminate Food Allergens

Food allergies (e.g. allergy to dairy products or to wheat) may cause dandruff in some people. What causes an allergic reaction in one person, however, may not cause the same reaction in another person. A so-called elimination diet can be used to identify which foods and substances may worsen dandruff in an individual. This diet involves removing any food or substance that is suspected of causing an allergy or intolerance from diet for a period of two to four weeks. If, after the elimination period, dandruff has disappeared or reduced significantly, the suspected foods and substances can be re-introduced to the diet, one food or substance at a time (the so-called "challenge" phase of the elimination diet). During this phase, the dieter systematically goes through all the suspected allergens, one by one, by consuming a suspect food or substance several times a day and then returning to the elimination diet for a few days. If symptoms re-occur or worsen during these days, the dieter may be allergic to the food or chemical that was re-introduced. Although an elimination diet is fairly simple to complete, the whole process can take several months. An alternative way to go about finding out which foods may contribute to dandruff in an individual is to have an allergy test performed.

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