This Is The Secret To Stronger Hair And Nails - Healthy Living Association

This Is The Secret To Stronger Hair And Nails

Keeping your hair healthy and strong gets more difficult as years go on. Luckily, the secret to lush hair could lie in your gut. The latest discoveries from a Cornell University research team might help you get the strong, shiny hair you’ve always wanted. Want to know more?

The biology of hair and nails

Both hair and nails are made of a specific protein called keratin. Nails are made of the same protein as hair. Unlike other parts of our bodies like the skin, hair isn’t made of actual cells nor does it have nerve endings. That’s why some people claim ‘hair is dead’.

However, the point where the hair and nails attach to the skin is very much alive. That’s why our lifestyle and overall health can affect their health and strength. Here’s what

Why Collagen and Biotin Might Not Be Effective For Healthier Hair

Traditionally, both biotin and collagen supplements have been recommended to strengthen the hair shaft and improve keratin production.

However, ingesting more collagen might not be directly correlated to healthier strands. Collagen can provide essential amino acids that could nourish hair follicles, and also act as an antioxidant to improve scalp health. However, results in humans and in keratin production in particular are still inconclusive.

Biotin, on the other hand, is another supplement touted to help with nail and hair health. This is a b-complex vitamin and as others, it helps your body metabolize food and make energy. Even though people usually get enough biotin through their diet, many supplements claim to improve keratin production. In contrast, the national institute of health mentions there is insufficient data to backup this claim and supplementation is recommended only if you have deficiencies [1].

So if collagen and biotin are inconclusive when it comes to hair and nail health, what can you do? A recent study by Cornell researchers might point in a whole new direction.

The secret to strong hair might be in your gut

By now, you probably already know about the importance of the gut for our health [3]. The specific link between the gut and the immune system, as well as the nervous system, has been studied for a long time (you can read our take on it here).

However, new information suggests that the gut microbiome might also be key for lush, healthy hair at any age.

A research group from Cornell university found that the gut microbiome could enrich nutrient composition and recycle ‘unused’ compounds from your diet. In turn, this ‘recycling’ helped build complex amino acids within the digestive tract that could be absorbed by the body [2].

Researchers experimented with ants, changing their gut biome. Then, they later tested their exoskeletons. Results are promising: ants with enriched gut biome showed a stronger skeleton, with several times the number of proteins, chitin and other key compounds [2].

While results are still preliminary, this can be extrapolated to keratin production in humans. For you, this means that an unbalanced gut microbiome could hinder your hair and nail health. In general, a balanced diet and no hormonal issues should result in healthy hair and nails. However, if that’s you but your nails and hair are still brittle, your gut might be the root cause!

So, what can you do to make sure your gut will boost keratin production?

How to make sure your gut promotes strong hair and nails

In general, you’ll need to nourish your microbiome and ensure it stays balanced. The key is maintaining the most diverse gut bacteria possible, mainly through your diet.

Here are some easy lifestyle changes for a healthier, more diverse gut:

  • Increase your fiber intake: your microbiome thrives in soluble and insoluble fiber, which comes from plant-based sources. Stick to whole fruits and veggies whenever possible, and choose juice with pulp.
  • Variety is key: your gut microbiome will be as diverse as your diet. A good rule of thumb is eating at least 10 different, non-processed food items throughout the week. Some people strive for 30 different food items, but start slow.
  • Manage stress: your gut has a direct link to your brain, and high cortisol levels -also known as the ‘stress hormone’- limit microbe diversity. Try to lower your stress levels and you’ll have a healthier gut.
  • Eat fermented foods: these add extra microorganisms to your gut biome, plus, they provide optimal feeding media to boost healthy gut microbes. Add kimchi, yogurt, or fermented soy to your diet, or include a daily probiotic supplement like our doctor’s approved supplement here.

As you can see, a healthier gut will give you an all-around healthier look, including your hair! Do you do anything special to keep your hair stronger? Let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. Biotin. Available here.
  2. Nature communications. Gut bacteria are essential for normal cuticle development in herbivorous turtle ants. Available here.
  3. Healthy living association. Is your gut healthy? Available here.

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