If like me, you thought that probiotics were something found only in yoghurt that you ate to help with digestion, you need to think again. Probiotics are so much more than that. What these microorganisms get up to in your gut has a massive effect on the general health of your whole body. That includes your hair.
This article will take a look at what probiotics are and where they’re found. It will also look at how they can help prevent hair loss and even stimulate regrowth. Interested? Read on to learn more!
What Are Probiotics?
It’s believed that there are something like 500 different types of probiotics in the human body. The two most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The first is found in the small intestine, with the second being a resident of the large intestine. Each of the two has separate sub-strains of probiotics.
In essence, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts, but they are often described in different ways; they are referred to as microorganisms, ‘good’ bacteria and even as gut flora. You can find them in food or supplements, and they grow naturally in your gastrointestinal tract. It is believed that probiotics play a role in maintaining the balance of the gut microbiota which are important to our digestive and heart health.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods. We’ve mentioned yoghurt as the one you’ll know of but there are others. These include foods like pickles, sauerkraut, certain cheeses, and drinks such as kefir and kombucha.
How Do They Help Your Hair?
Probiotics help your hair in three main ways. Firstly, they are useful for combatting inflammation. Research has raised the possibility that the deployment of probiotics can reduce neurogenic skin inflammation. This affects mini-organs such as the hair follicle cycle. Additionally, an imbalance in the gut microbiota can be disruptive to the intestinal barrier and immune system, something which can cause intestinal inflammation. This can create problems in the digestive system and make it more difficult for nutrients to be fully absorbed.
Our bodies need a steady flow of nutrients. If this is impeded, the body ensures that nutrients go to the vital organs to allow us to function. Hair follicles don’t make the cut in such a scenario and so don’t receive the vitamins, minerals and proteins required to sustain the growth of strong, healthy hair.
Stress and Hormones
Probiotics can also help reduce stress, according to work carried out by the University of Missouri in 2016. This found that a common probiotic found in various yoghurts and supplements was effective in reducing stress-related behaviour and anxiety in zebrafish. This opens the door to the possibility that the same holds good for humans.
The third way in which probiotics are good for your locks is by helping maintain a healthy hormonal balance. Hormonal changes have been linked to hair thinning and hair loss. The female sex hormone oestrogen, for example, influences how long hair spends in the growth stage of the hair cycle, and changes in its levels have been linked to hair loss in menopause. Some animal studies have demonstrated that probiotics help enable interactions between the gut microbiome and oestrogen, thus keeping the hormone at a stable level.
Are There Any Downsides?
The biggest downside of probiotics is that they are food, not medicine. This means they can’t be prescribed and measured out in doses in the same way as medication. This makes it hard to assess their likely impact. You can lift a probiotic product off the shelf without knowing how much of the bacteria mentioned on the label is actually present in the product. You also have no way of knowing whether the bacteria are still alive in the foodstuff or whether they will stay alive long enough to survive the journey to your gut.
Probiotics are often taken as supplements, but care is needed if you decide to go down this path. You should always seek medical advice before embarking on a course of supplements, no matter what they are or what health benefits they promise.
Probiotics aren’t a miracle cure that sort all your hair issues in a short time. They need to be taken consistently and maintained to have an impact. Moreover, while there have been plenty of promising studies showing the benefits of probiotics, more work is needed to pinpoint which of them works best and exactly what it is they do to help your hair stay healthy.
If you’re worried about hair loss or thinning, Vinci Hair Clinic can help. We are one of the largest hair restoration organisations in the world, with clinics in many different countries. We employ only the best people in the industry. If you want to chat with a hair expert, we are offering a free, no-obligation consultation to all our new clients. Get in touch and book your appointment today!