Your Gray Hair May Be Linked To What You Eat

African American woman grey hairWe have all experienced that feeling of “what the fudge,” when we spy our first gray hair. For me, it happened in my prime – 21-years-young. Needless to say, many women have begun to ditch the hair dye and embrace their NOW signature silver strands. Others, however, find themselves emotionally fraught – frantically picking and plucking in an effort to hold tight to their sense of youth.

Sure, science says that going gray is primarily genetic. For example, in 2016, researchers tracked down the first gene linked to gray hair, suggesting that some men and women are simply born with an inherited tendency to go gray prematurely.

“We have found the first genetic association to hair greying, which could provide a good model to understand aspects of the biology of human ageing,” explained Professor Andreas Ruiz-Linares of University College London, who led the study published in Nature Communications.

The culprit is called IRF4, a gene that is believed to interrupt the cellular process that churns out melanin pigment in the hair follicle. In other words, graying occurs as follicles gradually stop producing the pigment that gives hair its color. Keep in mind, this is a process that happens at different rates for different groups of people. A good rule of thumb would be to look at your family’s history of going gray. Chances are you face an increased risk of going gray at an early age if you’ve seen older relatives do so.

The silver lining? It’s not always genetic. “Nutrition plays an integral role in how we age,” Dr. Shirley Madhere, a plastic surgeon who practices using a holistic approach, tells

In fact, according to Dr. Madhere, there are food ingredients that contribute to prematurely graying hair:


“Interferes with protein metabolism; the protein keratin is critical to hair structure,” explained Dr. Madhere.


According to Dr. Madhere, “there is no known association between gluten and prematurely grey hair. However, there are scientific case studies where patients with celiac disease had reversal of their grey hair after eating a gluten-free diet.” Just a little “food for thought,” continued Dr. Madhere.