1. Provide Nutrients
The follicle creates cells that make up hair using nutrients delivered by the bloodstream. Your gut microbiome actually synthesizes some of the key materials needed for hair growth. Perhaps the most important one is biotin, which your body uses to metabolize the amino acids needed to produce keratin, the cells that make up your hair. While it’s possible to get biotin in your diet and in supplements for hair growth, some strains of beneficial gut bacteria actually produce it, too.
If your gut gets out of balance though, and other undesirable species take over, biotin production reduces, which can contribute to hair loss.Your gut bacteria also produce vitamin K2, which regulates calcium in your body, helping to make sure that it ends up where it needs to be (your bones and teeth), and not in places it shouldn’t, like the walls of your blood vessels. If the blood vessels in your scalp get too much calcium in their walls, this can compromise the blood flow to your follicles, making hair growth that much harder.
2. Regulate Hormones
Beneficial bacteria help regulate the levels of various hormones in your body, including those related to hair growth, like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. If you have too much testosterone or too little estrogen, your hair can’t move through its growth cycle appropriately, potentially leading to hair loss; but a healthy gut microbiome can work to keep your levels of each hormone normal. Similarly, abnormally high levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) can disrupt the levels of hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans in your skin, impairing the function of your hair follicles. Visit us to test your levels!
3. Immune Function
Some types of hair loss are related to an over-functioning immune system: much like how your immune system can overreact to non-harmful substances like pollen, it can also sometimes mistake its own cells as dangerous, attacking your hair follicles and making it difficult for them to function correctly. Not only does the microbiome help to regulate immune function so the immune system doesn’t overreact, but helpful bacteria can also increase anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are signaling proteins released by immune cells that tell tissues how to behave. L. reuteri in the gut, for instance, can increase the expression of a cytokine called IL-10 in the skin, which regulates sebum production and increases the numbers of hairs in the anagen phase.
What’s more, a balanced gut microbiome lowers your stress levels to give your immune system a break, and even helps your body learn how to respond to all sorts of stimuli appropriately––after all, 80% of your immune cells are in your gut!
4. Avoid External Stressors
Many common hair products are actually not good for your body. Artificial chemicals and synthetic materials can disrupt your skin microbiome, which is crucial for keeping your skin (hair follicles included) healthy and your gut microbiome balanced. Chemicals on your skin can affect your gut via the gut-skin axis, so be mindful of the things you’re using on your skin and hair, opt for natural products without harmful chemicals, and avoid overbathing in general.
While you’re at it, make sure that you avoid putting structural stress on your hair: one other potential cause of hair loss and thinning is regularly wearing your hair in styles that pull on it, like a tight ponytail. Doing this over and over again can damage your follicles, causing patterns of hair loss around the edges of your scalp.
5. Replace Your Old Hair Products With Natural Alternatives
Once you’ve cleaned out your harsh, synthetic cleansers, replace them with natural products that can give your skin and hair a little extra moisturization and protection. You’ve got so many options for promoting healthy, supple skin and shiny hair, including argan oil and castor oil, both of which are rich in vitamins and fatty acids that keep your skin healthy and your hair lush.
6. Eat foods that nourish your microbiome and promote healthy hair.
Your body can’t grow healthy hair without the right building blocks, so make sure that you’re eating foods that support your gut microbiome and contain biotin, vitamin K2, and the amino acids used to produce healthy hair, like hyaluronic acid. Generally speaking, look for lots of vitamin-rich seasonal, organic produce; high quality meat, dairy, and eggs (great sources of biotin and vitamin K2); and fermented foods like natto, kimchi, and sauerkraut, which are rich in probiotics that can help produce essential vitamins.
7. Replenish Your Microbiome With Probiotics And Prebiotics.
Of course, your body can only make the most of those nutrients for healthy hair if you have a good balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut, and given all the things that can disrupt your bacterial balance, that’s often very difficult to achieve without supplementation. So consider adding a premium probiotic to your daily routine.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget About Your Mindset!
One of the most amazing characteristics of the gut microbiome is its two-way connection to the brain via the gut-brain axis. Rebalancing your gut microbiome can lower your stress levels, but making a conscious effort to improve your mindset can also help your gut balance. Gratitude practices, meditation, and spending time with people who make you happy can all lower your stress levels, creating conditions that allow beneficial bacteria to thrive. And since your stress and microbiome are crucial for the health of your hair, it’s well worth paying some attention to your mindset as part of a holistic approach to your health and appearance.
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