The nutrients we consume can have significant impacts on our bodies – not just in terms of our waistlines, but our hairlines as well. People who want to have healthy hair should look to the things they eat, the haircare they perform and – perhaps surprisingly – their gut health. What is the connection between the gut and hair? Below is a brief look into the latest research on the topic, as well as a few things to do to boost gut health for improved hair growth.
First, it’s important to note that gut health can affect just about every function in the human body, not only hair. Modern research has revealed that a healthy gut creates an advantageous environment for the various microorganisms residing there naturally. When the environment is balanced, it enables these microorganisms – primarily bacteria – to carry out their systems and processes. Such diverse processes can have an impact on everything in the body and even in the mind with mood-regulating hormones. These innumerable, intricate relationships, tying together nutrition, immunity and hormones are why the complex ecosystem that is the gut is commonly referred to as the body’s “second brain.”
What are some ways the gut affects hair growth? One well-supported thought is that the microbiome within the gut aids significantly in metabolizing various micronutrients and macronutrients. These nutrients include essential vitamins that support the growth of our hair, especially biotin. Well-known to those interested in hair health, biotin helps the body metabolize amino acids, which produce keratin. Keratin is a major factor in sustaining a healthy hair growth cycle. When someone has an imbalance in gut bacteria, it may disrupt the process of synthetizing biotin which, in turn, could have negative effects on the hair.
Another relationship between hair health and the gut relates to hormones. Testosterone, estrogen and cortisol are three major hormones affecting the growth cycle of the hair. It’s believed that gut bacteria help to regulate the levels of these hormones. An example of this is how estrobolome, a group of microbes within the microbiome, help to metabolize estrogen. If the estrobolome is not healthy, it could impact estrogen levels, potentially interfering with the several processes this hormone influences, including hair growth.
What are some ways to boost digestive health? One of the top recommendations is to reduce stress where possible and to improve diet. As artificial sweeteners and alcohol can disrupt the balance and diversity of the gut microbiome, it’s advised to avoid these. Consuming fermented foods that are rich in probiotics can work to restore the microbiome, as can probiotic supplements. Another suggestion is to take steps to improve immune health. As approximately 80% of immune cells are located in the gut, keeping the digestive system healthy is essential for an optimal immune system and vice versa.
For further information on the gut-hair connection and ways to improve digestive health for better hair, please see the accompanying resource.
Infographic provided by Hair by Dr. Max, a trusted source for hair replacement services