You may think you know who your BFF is, but if you named anything other than your microbiome, you’d be wrong. No living thing does more for you than your gastrointestinal flora. (Sorry, mom!)
Get hair, health, and science news delivered right to your inbox.
Your gastrointestinal flora are the bacteria that live in your digestive tract.These beneficial guys live their lives in a symbiotic relationship with the cells of your GI tract, helping to guide, protect, and nourish them. Your flora have a big impact on your body’s health, right up to the hair on your head.
While incredibly helpful, your flora are also impressionable when it comes to your daily decisions and are hugely impacted by both physical and emotional stress, your diet, and your environment. An imbalance in your microbiome (and the inflammation and absorption issues to follow) means that your hair follicles may not be able to get the thumbs up for growth or receive the nutrients they need to fuel them. Don’t forget, inflammation and nutrient deficiencies are big roadblocks to optimal hair health.
So if you’re looking to crush your hair goals, your microbiome is worth paying attention to. Here are three reasons why:
A healthy microbiome supports better nutrient absorption
While your stomach admittedly does a decent job of breaking down part of your meals on its own, your microbiome plays a big role in helping you absorb your nutrients. The microbes breakdown certain carbohydrates and proteins, which they very graciously turn into substances to feed the cells of your GI tract, helping to keep them healthy and nurtured. Being well-rounded, they’ve also been shown to help us with the breakdown of fats and nutrient-rich polyphenols found in plants, fruit, and tea. As if that weren’t enough, they also help create new nutrients for our use, such as vitamin K, as well as components of B vitamins, which are known to be supportive for hair health.
It helps with “leaky gut”
Your digestive tract is actually our thinnest cellular barrier to the outside world, so it’s good news that our intestines are equipped to do a great job of playing the role of bouncer for things we’d rather not let in. Turns out, though, the protective shields our GI tract uses to keep out the bad guys couldn’t even work properly without our beneficial flora being present, who signal their creation and drive their production for us, as well as support the development of our gut immune force. Without them, security at our cellular doors would be lax, allowing unwanted guests to sneak in and irritate and inflame our digestive cells — a state we commonly refer to as “leaky gut.”
Your beneficial bacteria also do you a huge service just by taking up space. Their presence means that potentially problematic microorganisms are shooed away from trying to camp out in your gut. Your immune system is well-adapted to your flora, knowing to leave them be while still fighting off anything invasive. Your flora will even perform the micro-equivalent of “calling the cops” on any potentially-unwanted growth, signaling your immune cells to check out any developing trouble.
It helps promote a healthy inflammatory response
Your microbiome plays an important role in the development and function of your immune cells. Your immune cells, while well-meaning when they set off inflammatory responses, can get a bit excessive with no one watching their back. While research still isn’t clear on all the details of how, we do know that your microbiome aids in making the immune cells that can help keep unwanted immune activities in check, like preventing the development of autoimmune diseases and calming inflammatory responses to allergens, asthma, and pathogens. Research has found that different metabolites of our microbiome are responsible for signaling various immune cells, playing puppet master to the regulation of their various inflammatory responses and ensuring they don’t get out of hand.
If you’re looking for ways to support your microbiome, consider taking a natural supplement like Nutrafol that’s made with ingredients that help gut health. The curcumin in Nutrafol supports a healthy inflammatory response, which is important for absorbing our food (and our Nutrafol) through the gut. Nutrafol’s ashwagandha supports healthy cortisol production, which is important for healthy absorption as well.