So, what CAN you do to stop hair loss in its tracks and start growing healthier hair that just gets better over time? Is it even possible to do? The answer is “YES” and the good part is that by following these guidelines, you will not only help your hair to grow faster and healthier, but you will also heal one of the most, if not THE MOST important system in the body that will affect every other single aspect of your health!
Let’s get into the tips, and I recommend you use a combination of most or all of them to get the most impact for your hair and gut.
We’ll start right from the top of the digestive system!
#1 -Mindful Eating
I recommend is mindful eating. What does that mean? It means taking the time to smell your food, not be distracted when eating, chewing slowing, and allowing the salivary enzymes to start digesting your food in your mouth while simultaneously assuring your body that you are not running from a lion.
#2 - Supplements
I also recommend that people over the age of 40 take a digestive enzyme with each meal. We all need these digestive enzymes to break down our foods into the smallest usable components required to assemble all of the proteins, hormones, and enzymes we need to grow hair and heal our bodies. They also help to prevent food sensitivities that inevitably
happen when undigested food particles sneak into your bloodstream and activate your immune system response.
Taking a probiotic will help to replenish your good gut microbiome and allow that good bacteria to secrete all of the protective gut substances, break down nutrients for use, and create feel good hormones. It will also help to crowd out the bad bacteria that are making you feel horrible and causing hair loss. I recommend using a medical-grade probiotic that contains multiple strains of bacteria and billions of units of those bacteria. You can also replenish good gut bacteria by eating more fermented foods and feeding the good bacteria with high fiber foods like leafy green and cruciferous vegetables.
#3 -Fill in Nutritional Gaps
Adding in some of the “building blocks” and micronutrients that you might be missing will help to plug in any nutritional gaps missing with your diet and give your hair follicles a boost of nutrition. While some people opt to take only biotin, I recommend taking a full complement of B-vitamins via a B-complex supplement as well as additional amino acids which you can find in powdered or capsule form. You can supplement with a good quality protein shake as well, but I find that in a compromised gut, taking a free-form amino acid supplement requires less “digestive” effort for a sensitive and healing tummy.
On top of taking a B-complex and amino acids, I also recommend everyone supplement with a good multi-vitamin and Vitamin D. Adequate levels of zinc, selenium, and iodine are required for healthy hair and thyroid function and Vitamin D deficiency has also been implicated in hair loss. It’s an essential nutrient required for healthy hormones and immune system.
#4 - Consider Collagen
Collagen is another easy supplement to add into your daily regimen. It’s easy to mix it into a cold or warm drink or smoothie on a daily basis. It is a great source of highly digestible amino acids that are the building blocks for the proteins required to build nice skin and hair. It will also assist directly in gut healing and helps to plug in some “gaps” that may have occurred with a leaky digestive wall.
#5 - Eliminate the Toxic Garbage
While adding in all of the good stuff, remember to remove the toxic garbage that is accelerating your hair loss in the first place. This might include eliminating processed sugars, gluten, other foods based on testing, as well as toxins in your hair products like plastics, silicones or parabens. This will help to rid your hair follicles and gut of inflammatory particles that will trigger your immune system to go on “attack” mode on your hair, thyroid glands and other organs. Try finding all natural beauty and hair products, make sure to clean your scalp to unclog your follicles and engage in scalp massage will help to stimulate blood flow to the area.
#6 - Find Stress Support
The next is MAJOR and that is Stress support. You may have already noticed more hair loss and even balding when you are stressed out. Remember, if you are “running from the lion,” more of your hair will enter the last phase of the hair cycle and not be nourished for growth. The body’s primary objective during stress is survival, not growing beautiful hair. Stress support is a daily and sometimes minute-by-minute endeavor. I recommend adding in yoga, music, body movement, or meditation as a daily practice for overall stress support, but also finding ways to alleviate stress in every moment, such as breathing techniques. The key is finding something that works for YOU…and doing it consistently. There are so many resources and apps that can help and stress relief is very individual. Find what works and use it!!
#7 - Test Don't Guess
Lastly, I would say to “test don’t guess” if you are having trouble figuring out what could be creating your hair loss and if your gut is responsible for persistent hair problems. Besides testing for thyroid function and basic blood work, most functional practitioners are able to directly test the gut function and microbiome, food sensitivities, micronutrient status, and toxins in the body. Once you know what is creating your particular issue, your practitioner can create a holistic plan that will address not only your hair, but set you up for greater energy, mood, and prevention of disease.
Contributed by: Dr. Markyia Nichols, aka Dr.Kyia is a Johns Hopkins trained, board certified ob/gyn, author and functional medicine expert who is committed to integrating the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual components of health.