Here’s How Your Digestive Health Is Linked to Your Hair Health
You might be wondering what your gut health has to do with your hair health. You’re not alone.
The millions of bacteria that keep your gut healthy is an exciting new topic in science and medicine. Many experts believe that your gut microbiome affects every aspect of your well-being – including your hair.
Your gut has its very own ecosystem called a microbiome. Billions of microscopic bacteria work to keep your digestion, skin, metabolism, mood, and hair in top condition. Studies show that keeping your gut microbiome balanced prevents many health issues including hair thinning, dandruff, an irritated scalp, and hair loss.1
As a stylist, I know that your lifestyle shows up in your hair – hair health is a reflection of your overall health. We all get tired and stressed and find ourselves reaching for pick-me-ups like fast food and caffeine. But if you’re not careful, those habits can become health issues.
When my co-founder Allison and I started Arey, we began our haircare line not with a shampoo or conditioner, but with a nutritional supplement – Not Today, Grey. Why? Because we know that good hair starts from the inside out. That’s why I am so interested in the new science on how your gut microbiome affects your hair.
Here’s what I found out about how to have your best gut and hair health.
What’s the Connection Between a Healthy Gut and Healthy Hair?
Your hair is a core part of your identity. In a nationwide survey, InStyle magazine found that 81% of women feel their most confident when their hair looks its best.2
InStyle’s survey also revealed that 58% of women want to know how to improve their hair and scalp health. It could be time to look at your gut microbiome for the answer. Recent medical research shows that taking care of your gut flora may prevent hair loss and damage.1
Your microbiome is a delicate balance of friendly bacteria and yeasts that support your digestion and immune system. When your microbiome is out of balance it allows bad bacteria to flourish and the health of your whole body is impacted.
Any disruption of your digestive system can cause hair and scalp issues. That’s because your gut is where your body processes the nutrients you need to grow healthy hair.3 A Korean study also found that an imbalance of gut bacteria is directly linked to serious hair loss conditions like Alopecia.4
According to dermatologists,1 here’s how an unhealthy gut microbiome can affect your hair:
Gut Permeability: an overgrowth of bad bacteria affects the lining of your intestine which makes it “leaky”. This affects your immune system and can also affect hair follicles.
Gut Inflammation: inflammation affects many processes in your body, including your hair growth cycle.
Malabsorption: poor absorption of necessary nutrients means that your hair does not get the vitamins it needs for healthy growth.
You might be eating all the right things, but if your gut flora is unhealthy, you can’t fully process or absorb the nutrients in your food. The good news is that you can easily improve your gut health in as little as 72 hours.5
Experts recommend taking these easy steps to get a healthier gut microbiome
Six Ways You Can Improve Your Gut Health
You inherited your unique personal gut microbiome from your parents but it’s also affected by your diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors. A healthy gut flora is your very own ecosystem made up of over 400 different kinds of microorganisms.3 Your job is to keep them happy.
Here are six steps you can take to improve your gut health:
1. Manage Your Stress
Stress – especially long-term stress – impacts your overall health, your gut health and affects hair growth.6
A 2019 study shows that stress unbalances your gut microflora.7 Hair loss and thinning, weight gain, depression, and food cravings have all been linked to a disrupted gut microbiome.
Here are some mind and body practices to reduce daily stress:
✅ Take time out for exercise: exercise lowers the stress hormone adrenaline and causes your body to release endorphins – your body’s natural mood elevators.8
✅ Get enough sleep: aim for 7-9 hours a night to restore your body and mind.9
✅ Meditate: meditation reduces your levels of follicle-damaging cortisol (stress hormone) by up to 50%.10
✅ Take deep breaths: a powerful anxiety-reducing habit with multiple whole-body benefits.11
Stress is a well-known contributor to hair loss and greying. A Columbia University study found that taking a holiday can actually reverse grey hair.12 De-stressing with self-care will benefit every aspect of your well-being including your digestion, mood, skin, and hair health.
2. Avoid Antibiotics
Antibiotics work by wiping out bacterial infections fast, but they also damage the good bacteria that make up your gut microbiome. Antibiotics are sometimes your best option, but only take them when absolutely necessary.
You can reduce damage to your microbiome by taking probiotic supplements after your course of antibiotics. These restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut.
Experts at the Center For Disease Control (CDC) also recommend you reduce your use of antibacterial products because these can alter your microflora. Children’s microbiomes are particularly affected by an over-sanitized environment. It leaves them vulnerable to allergies and infections.13
3. Eat Your Greens for a Healthy Gut
Certain vegetables nourish and support your gut microbiome. These are high in prebiotic fiber which means that they are food for your friendly bacteria. That’s why eating prebiotic-rich veggies can help balance your gut.
Here are some of the prebiotic superfoods that nourish your digestive system:
- Alums, including garlic, onions, and leeks
- Whole grains, especially barley, and oats
- Dandelion greens
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Legumes, like chickpeas, black beans, and lentils
Focusing on a plant-forward diet is the best way to increase your intake of prebiotics. Cooking can affect the fiber content so try and consume them raw or lightly cooked.
4. Feed Your Microbiome With Fermented Foods
Foods created through fermentation are packed with good bacteria that your gut needs.
Here are a few delicious examples that you can easily add to your diet:
- Kefir and other live, sugar-free yogurts
- Apple cider vinegar
- Sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables
Studies show that adding just 100g of live yogurt into your diet daily,14 helps your gut produce feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.15
Feeling happier isn’t the only upside of eating fermented foods, your hair will benefit too. A healthy gut microbiome breaks down foods efficiently and allows absorption of nutrients important for hair growth like Biotin, B12, B6, Iron, and Folic acid.16
A lack of these vitamins can cause hair thinning and shedding. In extreme cases, it can lead to Alopecia. Hair growth-boosting supplements like Arey Not Today, Grey work their best when your gut microbiome is working its best.
5. Cut Back on Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
A diet high in sugar and artificial sweeteners causes an overgrowth of your gut’s bad bacteria. Known as gut dysbiosis, this imbalance can cause all kinds of problems from indigestion to diabetes and obesity.17
I’m sorry to tell you that even calorie-free artificial sweeteners can negatively impact your blood sugar levels and gut microflora. That sugar-free treat might not be as harmless as you hoped. For a gut-friendly snack, reach for an apple, banana, or some berries.
6. Look After Your Scalp Microbiome
Yes, your scalp has a microbiome too. Entire microbial communities live on your scalp skin, protecting it from infection and damage. If your scalp is dry, itchy, or irritated, you could be suffering from an imbalance in your scalp’s microflora. A recent government report found that 50 percent of people suffer from dandruff and other scalp issues worldwide.18
Here’s how to keep your scalp microbiome healthy:
✅ Choose the right personal care products: avoid shampoos containing sulfates. These harsh detergents over-cleanse your scalp. You need a gentle sulfate-free shampoo like Arey Wash that keeps your scalp clean and balanced.
✅ Detox your scalp: dead skin and natural oils (sebum) can build up on your scalp and clog your hair follicles. This can lead to hair loss and thinning. Regular, gentle exfoliation with a scalp Scrub keeps your scalp clean and nourished.
✅ Use clean hair products: avoid products containing harmful ingredients like parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, or artificial fragrances.
Research shows a direct link between your hair growth and thickness and the health of your scalp microbiome.19
At Arey, our commitment to clean beauty means avoiding ingredients that can damage your scalp’s ecosystem. Our science-backed products are always vegan, cruelty-free, and free from gluten, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial colors, and fragrances.
At Arey, We Care About Your Hair and Your Health
Good hair is a whole-body approach. That’s our philosophy at Arey.
Whether you’re looking to rebalance your scalp, have healthier, thicker hair or even reverse or delay your greys, we offer healthy, balanced, clean products that look after the whole you. Our commitment to clean beauty means that you can have healthy hair and a healthy gut microbiome.
The clean ingredients in our treatment shampoo and conditioner gently cleanse your hair and scalp while also nourishing them with our clinically efficacious peptide. The result – thicker, fuller, softer hair and a clean balanced scalp.
It’s important to Allison and I that Arey products are healthy and safe for all hair types. That’s why Arey products offer science-backed haircare solutions that slow the signs of aging hair and improve hair health. We want to make it easy for you to do the right thing for your hair and your overall health.
We know that science + consistency = results. That’s why we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals.
Gut Health and Hair - Practical Dermatology
- We Asked Women Across the Country All About Their Hair
- How Digestive Problems & Gut Health Affect Hair Loss
- Comparative analysis of scalp and gut microbiome
- How to Reset Your Gut in 3 Days
- Hair and stress
- Stress, depression, diet, and the gut microbiota
- Exercising to Relax - Harvard Health Publishing
- Stress and sleep: What's the link?
- The Stress Hormone: How Meditation Reduces Cortisol – EOC Institute
- Deep Breathing Exercises
- Is stress making my hair turn gray?
- Antibacterial Household Products: Cause for Concern
- The effects of probiotics on mental health
- Do your gut microbes affect your brain dopamine?
- Biotin - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
- Impact of Dietary Sugars on Gut Microbiota
- Dandruff: A Clinical Perspective
- Scalp Microbiome: An Emerging Segment in the Microbiome World
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