Do Away with Dandruff with Diet

June 13, 2017

Dandruff is a condition of the scalp that can be embarrassing, causing flakes of skin to appear in the hair and fall onto clothes. Dandruff is a common condition marked by itching, and in some cases is not easy to treat.

There is a natural cycle of skin renewal that can be caused to speed up, leading to patches of dead skin forming on the surface of the scalp. What causes the skin renewal cycle to speed up is not always clear, but below you will find the typical culprits.

Oil from the scalp causes the skin cells to clump together and appear as white flakes. Dandruff can be caused by a number of things, including dry skin; sensitivity to hair products; and skin conditions such as psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or eczema. The overgrowth of yeast can also cause dandruff.

Dandruff has been blamed on a multiplicity of causes, including dry skin, oily skin, too much or too little hair washing, diet, stress or hygiene. However, the real cause of dandruff is actually a yeast-like fungus, Malassezia globosa, which lives on your scalp, feeding on skin oils.

What causes sudden dandruff?

Winter cold air, combined with overheated rooms is a common cause of itchy, flaking skin. People with dandruff caused by dry skin tend to have small flakes of dandruff; the flakes are not oily. People with seborrheic dermatitis are very prone to dandruff.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

This is a common condition that causes oily skin, and people with it are very prone to dandruff. This can also affect many areas of the skin, including the backs of the ears, the breastbone, eyebrows, the sides of the nose and anywhere where skin folds together, such as the armpits. It causes red, greasy skin that’s covered with flaky white or yellow scales.

Fungus (Malassezia)

Malassezia is a fungus that lives on everybody’s scalp, and typically causes no issues at all, but it can grow out of control. It feeds on the oils our hair follicles secrete, then causes the scalp can become irritated and produce extra skin cells. These extra skin cells die and falloff, then mixes with the oil on the hair and scalp. Reddish, scaly plaques may also appear in the eyebrows, on the forehead, in the ear canal, on the folds of skin that extend from the nostril to the lips. Although the skin affected may feel and look dry, this is not the case.

These two issues are thought to be interlinked, as the presence of the fungus on skin may provoke an abnormal response from the immune system, which can then cause skin to become oily. Then the oiliness of the skin encourages more growth of the fungus, which then triggers dandruff.

Dandruff is caused by an overgrowth of certain yeast on the scalp, and drinking white wine triggers the overgrowth of that yeast in people who are prone to dandruff. It can also exacerbate too-fast skin-cell turnover, which can cause dandruff.

Dandruff is often attributed to the Candida yeast, and sugary foods promote the overgrowth of this yeast in the body. Sugar also depletes the body of B vitamins, which are a key component of any anti-dandruff diet.

Eliminate Food Allergens: Food allergies to dairy products or to wheat can cause dandruff in some people.


People who are sensitive to yeast have a slightly higher risk of having dandruff. These yeast-sensitive people find that it gets better during the warmer months and worse during the winter. UVA light from the sun counteracts the yeast. The skin is drier due to cold air and overheated rooms during the winter, making dandruff more likely. So, it is sometimes not that easy to know whether it is yeast or just dry skin.

Certain Skin Conditions

People with psoriasis, eczema and other skin disorders tend to get dandruff much more frequently than other people. Other conditions like the cold winter air, combined with overheated rooms is a common cause of dandruff because it creates dry skin that presents itself as small flakes of dandruff that are not oily.


Certain 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. Some experts say that people who do not consume enough foods that contain zinc, B vitamins, and some types of fats are more prone to dandruff.

Foods That Help

  • Step Up Your Zinc Intake: Clinical trials have shown zinc supplementation to be effective at controlling sebum production. Zinc requires vitamin B6 for proper absorption in the intestines, and is found in a variety of food like oysters, red meat, poultry, legumes, nuts, and grains.
  • Add Allicin to Your Diet: Allicin is a potent health promoting compound found in garlic, onions and scallions, when these items are crushed or chopped. It has been shown to promote heart and cardiovascular health, prevent and treat cancer, and reduce high blood pressure, but it also helpful for people with dandruff due to its anti-fungal properties.
  • Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in B Vitamins: If you are struggling with dandruff, eat plenty of foods rich in B vitamins. Evidence shows that 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, and B-complex vitamins are known to play a crucial role in metabolic processes. Vitamin B6 can be found in a variety of foods like beans, meat, poultry, fish, and some fruits & vegetables.

Vitamin E promotes healthy blood circulation and proper healing, factors that can help in scalp health and dandruff control. Other nutrients important to scalp health include essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, and minerals such as iron, copper, selenium and zinc.

Foods to Avoid

  • Reduce Sugar Consumption: A diet high in sugar that rapidly raises blood sugar levels can make dandruff worse in some people. Dandruff is often attributed to the Candida yeast, and sugary foods promote the overgrowth of this yeast in the body. Sugar also depletes the body of B vitamins, which are a key component of any anti-dandruff diet. A high intake of sugar also impacts the levels of antioxidant vitamins C and E in the body.
  • Eliminate Food Allergens: Food allergies to dairy products or to wheat can cause dandruff in some people. What causes an allergic reaction in one person, however, may not cause a reaction in another. An elimination diet can be used to identify which foods worsen dandruff in an individual. This means removing any food or that is suspected of causing an allergy or intolerance from your diet for two to four weeks. If dandruff has disappeared or reduced significantly, the suspected foods and substances can be re-introduced to the diet, one food at a time. Systematically going 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 this time, the person could be allergic to the food or chemical that was re-introduced.
Symptom Deficiency treatment cause
Coarse, brittle hair zinc
Dandruff vitamins B2, B6, zinc, magnesium, biotin
Dry hair vitamin A, zinc


What is the cause of dry scalp?

This symptom, commonly known as dandruff, can be due to a variety of conditions, from a simple dry scalp to a form of eczema or even psoriasis. Dandruff flakes are actually dead skin cells that naturally fall off the scalp, more so if you scratch. A number of skin conditions and other causes can make your scalp flaky.

Natural oils, such as coconut oil, almond oil or olive oil, can be used to keep the scalp moisturized and prevent dandruff. Simply warm up some oil in a bowl and apply with a scalp massage, ensuring that the entire scalp is covered. Wrap the hair and scalp in a towel and leave the oil on overnight.

How can you get rid of dandruff permanently?

Just massage 2 tablespoons lemon juice into your scalp and rinse with water. Then stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice into 1 cup water and rinse your hair with it. Repeat this daily until your dandruff disappears. Lemon’s acidity helps balance the pH of your scalp, which helps keeps dandruff at bay.

Dr. Mehmet Oz swears by Apple Cider Vinegar as a dandruff treatment…

As the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. Mix a quarter cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter cup water in a spray bottle and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week.

Here are 7 best essential oils for dandruff to disinfect, calm & soothe your scalp as well as take the itch away.

  • Tea Tree Essential Oil. …
  • Lavender Essential Oil. …
  • Rosemary Essential Oil. …
  • Thyme Essential Oil. …
  • Peppermint Essential Oil. …
  • Patchouli Essential Oil. …
  • Chamomile Essential Oil.


About the Author

Kalyani KL

Holistic Nutrition


I believe Food can be both a medicine and a disease, and thus seeking to find the right balance in food to strike the same...

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