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How Can Gut Health Influence Hair Health?

    Quick Summary: Gut Health & Hair Health

    Gut Health Insights: The gut microbiome, a diverse community of microorganisms in our gut, plays a vital role in overall wellness. It impacts nutrient absorption, immune function, and even hair health.

    Microbiome’s Impact on Hair: A balanced gut microbiome supports the absorption of nutrients crucial for healthy hair, like biotin and vitamin B12. Imbalances may affect hair growth and scalp health.

    Latest Research Highlights: Recent studies highlight the significant association between gut microbiome imbalances and autoimmune hair loss conditions like alopecia areata, as well as total body hair loss seen in Alopecia Universalis. Additionally, disruptions in the gut microbiome, known as gut dysbiosis, can contribute to various forms of alopecia, underscoring the importance of the gut-hair connection in maintaining healthy hair.

    Enhancing Gut Health for Healthy Hair: Enhance your gut health for healthier hair by prioritising a diverse diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, while also considering probiotic supplements to maintain gut microbial balance. Use antibiotics sparingly to avoid disrupting your gut flora, and complement your efforts with regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress management practices to support optimal gut health and promote vibrant hair growth.

    Key Takeaway: Improving gut health can positively impact hair health, but it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant lifestyle and dietary changes or medication adjustments. Your doctor can provide personalised guidance based on your unique health needs and goals.

    gut health and healthy hair

    What is Gut Health?

    The health of our gut can be an important cornerstone of your general physical and mental health. The intricate balance of diverse microorganisms growing within it is collectively is referred to as the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome performs a myriad of essential functions such as aiding digestion of food, as well as  shielding us from harmful pathogens. Importantly, their role extends to influencing hair health, a connection that is being researched more and more.

    An imbalance in the gut microbiome can disrupt key bodily processes, such as the ability to absorb and break down nutrients, immune responses, and protection against pathogens.1 Such disruptions can trigger a range of health issues, some of which may directly or indirectly impact the health of your hair. At The Treatment Rooms, we hope to help our patients understand the necessity of maintaining this complex ecosystem within our gut, as it is important not just for our overall health but also for ensuring the vitality and health of our hair.

    healthy gut and hair health

    The Role of the Microbiome: Gut Flora’s Influence on Hair

    Every person has a unique microbiome. A healthy one contains a diversity of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They help to process nutrients that are essential for healthy hair, such as biotin, folate, and vitamin B12, and play a role in the immune response that can affect scalp health and hair growth.
    Research has found that diet directly shapes your gut microbiome, impacting its composition and function. These changes in the gut can influence hair health, making a balanced diet crucial for maintaining both digestive wellness and hair health.2

    What’s New in Gut-Hair Axis Research: Recent Highlights

    1. Impact on Autoimmune Hair Loss: Recent research explored the gut’s role in autoimmune hair loss conditions like alopecia areata. Studies suggest a connection between gut microbiota imbalances and the subsequent inflammatory response to this form of hair loss. Interventions like faecal transplants and probiotics are being explored for their potential in managing hair loss, though further research is needed for clearer insights.3,4
    2. The Microbiome and Alopecia Universalis: In cases of Alopecia Universalis (total body hair loss), specific bacteria types are more prevalent in the gut microbiome. This discovery could pave the way for new diagnostic tools and treatment options, hinting at the microbiome’s role in this disease’s development.3
    3. Gut Dysbiosis and Hair Loss: Dysbiosis, or gut microbiome disruption, has been correlated with various alopecia forms, including Androgenetic Alopecia and Alopecia Universalis. While definitive evidence is still forthcoming, these links point to gut health as a potential factor in hair loss conditions.3
    4. Alopecia and Inflammatory Bowel Disease Link: A notable study investigating the connection between alopecia and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) revealed a significant association. The inflammatory effects from IBD could influence certain types of alopecia, suggesting that patients with alopecia may benefit from IBD screenings.5

    The Microbiome’s Impact on Hair Health

    The gut microbiome’s role in hair health is multifaceted – here are a few ways that it influences our body systems:

    • Inflammation Control: A balanced gut microbiome keeps inflammation in check, which is important for maintaining the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
    • Enhanced Nutrient Absorption: Beneficial gut bacteria aid in absorbing vital nutrients necessary for strong hair, like zinc, selenium, and iron.
    • Hormonal Balance: The microbiome can subtly modulate hormone levels, some of which may influence hair growth and hair loss patterns.

    Below are some links currently found between gut and hair health4,6,7,8 :

    Diet: Try and include foods rich in probiotics (like yoghurt and kimchi which help provide good bacteria for gut health) and prebiotics (such as garlic, onions, bananas, foods that are good for bacteria). This can improve gut health and positively influence hair health. A diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains help provide essential nutrients to support a thriving microbiome.

    Medication: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, can disrupt the microbiome and lead to a cascade of effects that could include hair thinning or loss. Be mindful of the overuse of antibiotics, and use them only when necessary.

    Pre-existing medical conditions: Certain diseases can influence the gut flora negatively, and can have an effect on hair health. These conditions can be summarised below: 

    Stress: Psychological stress can upset gut flora balance, leading to digestive issues and potentially impacting hair growth cycles.

    Sleep: Disrupted sleep patterns can throw off the balance of good and bad bacteria in our guts, which might affect our overall health and sleep quality. Interestingly, when rats with sleep deprivation got enough rest, their bodies were better at repairing gut cell damage, highlighting the importance of adequate sleep for maintaining gut health.

    At The Treatment Rooms London, we encourage adopting a lifestyle that promotes gut health. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress management techniques can all contribute to a balanced and resilient gut microbiome, which in turn supports healthy hair growth.

    Conclusion

    The link between gut health and hair health is a dynamic area of study, shedding new light on hair loss and it is affected by the gut.

    Remember, significant lifestyle changes or alterations in medication should always be discussed with a healthcare professional. Whether it’s your GP or a nutrition and lifestyle medicine specialist, seek personalised guidance to ensure any changes are in keeping with grounded evidence.

    References

    1. Jandhyala, S., Talukdar, R., Subramanyam, C., Vuyyuru, H., Sasikala, M., & Reddy, D. (2015). Role of the normal gut microbiota.. World journal of gastroenterology, 21 29, 8787-803. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v21.i29.8787.
    2. Hills, R., Pontefract, B., Mishcon, H., Black, C., Sutton, S., & Theberge, C. (2019). Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease. Nutrients, 11. https://doi.org/10.1159/000523712.
    3. Carrington, A., Maloh, J., Nong, Y., Agbai, O., Bodemer, A., & Sivamani, R. (2023). The Gut and Skin Microbiome in Alopecia: Associations and Interventions.. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 16 10, 59-64. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10617895/ 
    4. Hayashi, A., Mikami, Y., Miyamoto, K., Kamada, N., Sato, T., Mizuno, S., Naganuma, M., Teratani, T., Aoki, R., Fukuda, S., Suda, W., Hattori, M., Amagai, M., Ohyama, M., & Kanai, T. (2017). Intestinal Dysbiosis and Biotin Deprivation Induce Alopecia through Overgrowth of Lactobacillus murinus in Mice. Cell reports, 20 7, 1513-1524 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.07.057.
    5. Maghfour, J., Olson, J., Conic, R., & Mesinkovska, N. (2021). The Association between Alopecia and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Dermatology, 237, 658 – 672. https://doi.org/10.1159/000512747.
    6. Hasan, N., & Yang, H. (2019). Factors affecting the composition of the gut microbiota, and its modulation. PeerJ, 7, e7502. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7502 
    7. Vijay, A., Valdes, A.M. Role of the gut microbiome in chronic diseases: a narrative review. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 489–501 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-021-00991-6
    8. Matenchuk, B., Mandhane, P., & Kozyrskyj, A. (2020). Sleep, circadian rhythm, and gut microbiota. Sleep medicine reviews, 53, 101340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101340 
    9. Heathy and diseased gut microbiome illustrated using BioRender.com

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