Let's take a moment to separate fact from fiction: there is no supplement or magic pill that will cause beard hairs to grow where there are no follicles. However, if you want your existing beard to grow faster and fuller you'll need to make some changes in your diet.
The good news is that the things you would do to grow a healthier mane are also the things you should do to bet a better, fitter man.
Diet Plays a Big Role in Beard Growth
This is true for a man regardless of his beard density. The goals with a manly diet is to increase testosterone, decrease estrogen (though we need some), allow our pores to open up, and extend the fullness and life of our beard hair.
10 Diet Changes You Need to Make for Beard Growth
1. Drink More Water
Most of us don't drink enough water and it affects our hormone levels, ability to detox, and the production of oils on our skin. If we're not processing toxins through our kidneys, our skin will try and push it out. This results in an acidic base for hairs to grow. Not good.
2. Eat Less Salt
This one surprised me, but it's key. As you probably know, Americans typically over salt our food. In fact, our food comes already baked in sodium. The problem here is that salt is excreted through our pores. This causes crystalline structures to be created around the follicles which damages and kills many a beard hairs.
3. Too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3
Fats are good, but not all fats are the same. Omega 6 dense foods are shown to increase estrogen in men (that stuff is for the ladies, man!) which in turn decreases testosterone (that's the good stuff). As you likely know, testosterone is a big component in a man's ability to grow a strong, healthy beard.
So, cut back on the chicken and vegetable oils and up your consumption of oysters and salmon.
4. Get More Vitamin D
While vitamin D may not seem like a diet issue, our lack of direct sunlight makes it necessary for most men to take a vitamin D3 supplement. This is crucial! Vitamin D is an absolute must for hormone creation. A drop or two of a sublingual D3 supplement will make a big difference on how you feel and will promote a healthy beard.
5. Eat More Vitamin C
While you might need a supplement for vitamin C, you can likely get what you need from peaches and oranges (not just orange juice). Vitamin C is great for reducing inflammation. When inflammation is present in the body, the hormone cortisol is created. Unfortunately, cortisol also has the effect of reducing testosterone production and uptake. Vitamin C not only helps support good testosterone levels, but it helps put out any internal fires...which makes you feel better.
What about Biotin? Do I need that?
Let me take a moment hear and clear up some things about biotin and hair growth. Here's the deal, biotin can be helpful if you have a deficiency. However, most people aren't deficient in biotin. Also, it's relatively easy to get in foods and, while your body doesn't make it, there are bacteria in your gut that can produce it. So, once you get your diet under control, you'll likely find that biotin isn't necessary.
6. Eat Less Grains, Rice, and Corn...here's why
Some of these fiber rich foods bind to zinc and prevent it's absorption. Zinc, along with Magnesium, is crucial to testosterone production. Most men get zinc in foods or through a supplement, but that doesn't do any good if you're downing a bagel or toast along with a zinc rich food. What's the solution? Eat zinc rich foods like meat (yes!), nuts, and eggs separate from any grains.
7. Eat Brazil Nuts for Selenium
Selenium is a mineral that is lacking in most American diets, but it's easy to get without a supplement. One brazil nut has almost a 1000% of the daily recommended intake. I eat two every morning. Selenium and zinc have long been associated with healthy testosterone levels. While they are known for selenium, they have a lot of healthy fats and magnesium as well. Plus, they're really tasty.
8. Cut Back on Sugar...Way Back
Processed, white sugar - or really just about any sugar added to foods - is going to cause a dip in testosterone. This might only be for a short period of time, but there is a long term effect as well. If you have a build up of fat due to high caloric intake, that will cause more estrogen to be produced.
However, few people know that sugar has an adverse effect on your liver, causing it to not secret as much of the SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). This is the stuff that flows through your bloodstream and binds to hormones like testosterone. SHBG is a transporter of testosterone to the rest of your body. When it's not in play, the amount of "free" testosterone will increase, but the amount of "bound" (bound to SHBG) will decrease.
9. Give Up Vaping (and Smoking)
Let's be honest here: vaping is stupid and childish. A man shouldn't vape. That being said, nicotine has an adverse effect on hair growth because it causes capillaries to shrink, which minimizes needed blood flow to new hairs.
10. Curb Your Caffeine Intake
I saved this one for last because I didn't want you to get ticked and not read the rest. Here is the deal with caffeine and testosterone: a little is ok and may help increase t-levels, but too much causes an increase in adrenaline which then signals cortisol to come and calm things down.
The question is, how much is too much? One cup? One espresso? Two cups?
Every man is different when it comes to caffeine sensitivity. If you're thinking, "Oh, caffeine doesn't affect me at all so I guess I'm not sensitive." you're probably just the opposite. More than likely, your adrenals are fatigued from the caffeine intake.
If you find that you're not able to function well during the day without coffee, you have a problem. If you feel that you need that caffeine boost in the afternoon, you probably have an issue. Cut back on coffee, drink more water, and move more then see how you feel.
Beards can be a lot of fun. If you happen to have the genes to grow one, then why not take care of it? If you've tried to grow a beard but find it patchy and thin, make some changes in your diet and lifestyle and give it another shot. If nothing else, you'll feel better, look more healthy and feel more like a man.
- Mike Yarbrough