I love how I feel when taking a probiotic. I started in my 30's. I was likely reading Glamour or Elle on the array of beauty benefits that probiotics can bring for skin.
I think I've always heard there were digestive tract/gut benefits; but if I'm being honest, it was really the beauty factor that hooked me on probiotics.
If you've been avidly reading my blogs, you know I will try almost anything that benefits my hair & skin; and selflessly I pass that information on to you.
For the past few years, when recommending a friend start probiotics; I would share that In addition to keeping you regular; probiotics have been known to offer up clearer skin and improve the skin barrier.
Once you start that feeling of being regular with your bowel movements.. I mean, you just can't go back.
As we age, I feel like it's even more important.
Ok, so it's a no brainer given what I knew: I take probiotics because I want to reduce constipation and bloating + get all the beauty benefits I can.
What I was less aware of was how important the right probiotic is for hair growth.
Probiotics & Hair Loss:
I don't have to tell you, that seeing your hair thin & shed is a giant blow to your self-confidence.
So that brings us to the point of this blog. Will taking probiotics help stop my hair loss?
Answer: Over the last decade there is a significant amount of research linking probiotics and hair loss prevention.
Here's what we've learned:
Stress-Induced Scalp Inflammation:
Ok, I'm going to drop a major piece of knowledge on you: Hair follicles that are subjected to inflammation cannot grow!
Where does inflammation of the scalp come from? In most cases stress.
Let's follow the path of stress: You have a new job, surgery, a situation you're coping with, or a new baby. This causes new stress for you---> stress in turn causes inflammation in your body. Stress causes inflammation in the scalp...and your hair follicles are like WOAH- I'm not growing in these conditions.
So what are you supposed to do?
Well, research has shown that the right probiotic has good bacteria in it that can stimulate these anti-inflammatory components of your immune system.
These good gut little bacteria release cytokines and hormones that actually disrupt the cycle of inflammation.
Cliff notes: a good probiotic can counteract the effect of inflammation and enable hair follicles to grow instead of stay stagnant or shed.
Probiotics actually stimulate hair growth/like when you were younger!
I was blown away by the study I'm about to share with you that comes out of MIT.
So, these researchers at MIT fed mice probiotics and studied them.
What they found out is that their active hair follicles dramatically increased.
The probiotics basically influenced the hair follicles to move to the anagen phase (growth phase of hair).
Now, there were mice on a controlled diet that did not include probiotics and their hair rate stayed the same.
The researchers basically came to the conclusion that adding a probiotic with the right bacteria mirrored optimal health for the mice that is consistent with younger animals.
So you know when you were young and your mom would say "her hair literally grows like weeds", well ya; stress-free and being young and fed will do that to you!
Reducing stress & anxiety:
We touched on stress causing inflammation in the body.
When we experience stress it shoves our hair follicles out of the growth phase and directly into the shedding phase.
We saw this happen after Covid, we see it after any other major illness or stressful life event, and we especially see it after childbirth.
Once your body recovers from the stressor it can take 3-6 months for your hair to go back to the growth stage (this is why I advocate for hair vitamins as they can move hair to the growth stage so much faster).
But when you look at probiotics they also carry a unique benefit. Cortisol has been labeled the 'stress hormone" in our bodies. So when you are experiencing stress, your level of cortisol is high.
Probiotics actually have shown that they reduce the presence of cortisol even during times of high stress.
In case you were not aware, our hair is predominantly made up of protein. So, while in the US we typically get enough protein; it is really important that you digest it and your body breaks it down effectively.
Excess protein that isn't broken down doesn't magically go and support your hair strands that need it; instead it wreaks some major havoc in your gut (not enjoyable).
It's extremely important to not just take these incredibly important vitamins for hair growth but to be able to absorb them and probiotics really ensure that this happens.
You know who can tell you a lot about what's going on in your gut? Likely, your manicurist or hair stylist. Your nails and hair offer a lot of insight as to what is going on in your gut. If either or both are weak, it is a tell-tale sign of poor digestion.
What's so important about taking a probiotic daily is that they ensure your stomach acids stay at optimal levels.
Hormones, Skimpy Ponytails & Vitamin D
I think every woman has a moment of realization that her hair is thinning. For me that moment was when my ponytail was looking seriously weak and skimpy.
In the past I'd be able to pull my hair back into a cute ponytail and it would look full and healthy swinging behind me.
Two kids and a decade later and mine was looking limp and less than half its size; and that's when I because scared at how my hair was thinning.
Our bodies rely on our our thyroid to function well for a healthy metabolism and healthy hair growth.
A hormone disorder for instance due to perhaps the thyroid; (or similarly what we see postpartum, when estrogen & progesterone drop suddenly and androgen (the hormone that causes hair loss raises) causes rapid hair shedding across the scalp.
A link between these hormone drops and probiotics is seen through how they healthily impact Vitamin D.
When Vitamin D is low we see that estrogen levels are also low and imbalanced.
This not only can cause increased hair loss or increase the period of hair loss; but also make a woman more susceptible to illness , mood swings, infection, or depression.
The right probiotic consumption can actually increase Vitamin D levels by around 25%.
This is incredibly important for new moms who are already experiencing added stress, less sleep, massive hormone drops, and risk of depression.
All Probiotics Are Not Created Equal
When looking for a probiotic to provide the best benefit for digestion and hair; you want to look at how it will withstand the environment of the gut; along with how does it survive and deliver (aka actually break down).
Look for a probiotic containing Bacillus subtilis, a spore-forming (good bacterium).
These little spore-forming bacteria are able to protect themselves in various conditions: including varying temperatures.
Another benefit of DE111 is not only does it withstand processing and temperature fluctuations; but it survives the acidic environment of the gut and delivers measurable and meaningful results.
DE111 produces enzymes and breaks down food, including proteins the body has trouble digesting.
Remember when we discussed how protein can inhibit vitamin absorbancy? It is extremely important when considering hair growth and health that the vitamins you are taking to support hair growth are able to absorb: cue a probiotic with a healthy amount of DE111.