A new study associates sugary drinks and male pattern hair loss

Do Sugary Drinks Contribute to Male Pattern Baldness?

Do Sugary Drinks Contribute to Male Pattern Baldness?

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Looking to keep those thick, youthful locks long after they've gone gray? Then consider saying "so long" to soda and other sugary drinks. A study published in Nutrients found that men with male pattern hair loss (MPHL) consumed almost double the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages than those who hadn't gone bald. While researchers emphasized that the data shows a correlation and not causation, other studies have shown that dietary patterns and glucose tolerance may influence hair loss in men.

"Reducing SSB (sugar-sweetened beverage) consumption has become a thorny problem, puzzling governments and health institutions around the world," wrote the study's authors. "We have shown … those who consumed excessive SSB consumption had a higher likelihood of reporting MPHL."

Do sugary drinks cause hair loss?

This cross-sectional study of 1,028 men between the ages of 18 and 45, conducted by researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing, does not conclude that sugary drinks cause hair loss. However, it does show a strong association.

Study participants were asked in an online survey about their hair and about how much and how frequently they drank sugar-sweetened beverages—and indeed, higher SSB consumption was associated with an increased risk of hair loss.  Some key findings:

  • Those with hair loss drank an average of 4.3 liters per week of sugar-sweetened beverages (that's more than 2 big bottles of soda), while those without hair loss drank about half that—an average of 2.5 liters per week.
  • The study also found participants with hair loss tended to eat more deep-fried foods, sugars, sweets and ice cream.
  • On average, those with hair loss ate fewer vegetables than those who had not gone bald.

The study results align with previous evidence that high glycemic diets may cause baldness while healthier diets, like the Mediterranean diet, decrease the risk of baldness. Research suggests that higher sugar intake triggers "polyol pathways" that convert glucose to other forms of sugar that can impact hair follicles.

So while scientists cannot say for sure that sugary drinks cause baldness, they do know that poor diet with high amounts of added sugars are strongly linked and likely contribute to male pattern hair loss.

Common sugary drinks to avoid

It can be easy to avoid drinking obvious sugary beverages, such as soda and energy drinks, but you have to watch out for the sneaky ones as well, if you want to protect your hair follicles. These include fruit juices with added sugars, coffee or tea with sugar or sweetened creamers, and the like. While plant-based milks are generally healthy, some of these packaged milk alternatives contain a lot of added sugar. So be sure to read your labels while shopping to make sure SSBs aren't sneaking into your diet.

Should I switch to diet soda?

You should be aware that drinking diet soda and sports drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners are not healthy alternatives to sugar sweetened drinks. "Sugar free" drinks might not contribute to hair loss but they have been associated with other adverse outcomes and side effects.

5 healthy sugar-free drinks

Instead of drinking sugary sodas or guzzling drinks packed with artificial sweeteners, try these beverage substitutes to help keep your hair…and your well-being:

  1. Water.

    H2O is the best "health drink" there is! Water can be infused with fresh fruit, vegetables or herbs for a hint of flavor.
  2. Smoothies.

    Fresh fruits and veggies can be blended into a high-fiber, high-nutrient beverage. Want an extra boost for hair health? Add collagen peptides to the mix.
  3. Sparkling water or mineral water.

    Bubbles make everything more fun, and the carbonation might help you miss soda less.
  4. Unsweetened tea.

    Citrus and other fruits can work wonders to add natural sweetness and flavor to tea, much as they do for water.
  5. Unsweetened coconut water.

    The electrolytes in coconut water make it an excellent replacement for a sugar sweetened sports or energy drink. Just be sure to choose the unsweetened version.

Other ways to prevent hair loss

Research has shown that high SSB intake increases the risk of hair loss, but other dietary patterns and lifestyle habits contribute to male pattern hair loss, too. You can increase your chances of keeping the lush hair you want with these hair-friendly habits:

  • Eat more protein.

    Because hair is made up almost entirely of protein, consuming enough protein is essential to maintaining hair health.
  • Take a good multivitamin.

    Getting everything you need from diet alone can be challenging, and vitamin deficiency is associated with hair loss. A good multivitamin can help ensure you are getting the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need to help your hair look its best.
  • Try the Mediterranean diet.

    The healthy fats and powerful antioxidants in this diet support skin and scalp health, which also supports your hair. The high omega-3 and antioxidant content of the Japanese diet may also support hair health.
  • Be gentle on your hair.

    Avoid harsh shampoos and treatments that can lead to dry hair and hair breakage. Also avoid hair styles that pull at hair roots.
  • Manage stress.

    Some forms of hair loss can be prevented by minimizing stress and anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep.

    Sleep not only helps with the stress management noted above, but it also strengthens your immune response, energy levels and other aspects of wellbeing.
  • Incorporate nutrients like collagen, keratin and biotin into your routine.

    These are the building blocks of healthy skin and hair, and their daily intake can help your hair and skin maintain its youthful look and feel. Biotin-rich pumpkin seeds are a good start, as well as collagen peptide powders.



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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.