What we eat can determine the health of our hair? It seems so, based on a recent scientific research published a few weeks ago in the prestigious journal Nature by a Japanese team from the University of Tokyo (Morinaga et al, Nature, 2021).
Obesity, diseases and alopecia
Obesity is connected to an increased risk of various diseases in the human body, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some types of cellular degeneration. Previously, it was also possible to see a link between obesity and a higher incidence of alopecia, or hair loss. However, until now this association had not been deepened. To fill this gap, Japanese researchers have developed research with the aim of understanding how a diet rich in fat and, in general, a condition of obesity, can affect hair health.
The connection between hair health and diet, the experiment
The experiment was performed on a population of mice, divided into two groups. The first group was fed a high-fat diet while the second a standard-fat diet. Before and at the end of the experiment, the researchers analyzed the quality of the hair and hair follicles and the state of the stem cells of the hair follicle. In particular, these stem cells renew themselves with each hair cycle, thus allowing a new hair to grow. With advanced age, stem cells lose their ability to renew themselves and the result is thin hair. What emerged from the experiment is that, in the presence of a high-fat diet, the level of inflammation in the stem cells of the hair follicle increases. The increase in inflammation inhibits the activation of particular proteins, called sonic hedgehog, essential for regulating the life cycle of the hair and the regeneration of stem cells. As a result of the inflammation, therefore, there is a decrease in the stem cells themselves and a reduction in the hair follicle. The hairs thus grow thinner and fall out faster.
Therefore, diet can also affect hair health. In fact, when the diet is too rich in fat or there is a condition of obesity, the levels of inflammation in the epidermis increase, the ability of the stem cells of the hair follicle to renew themselves decreases, the hair grows thinner and falls out faster. A healthy and balanced diet, on the other hand, can protect your hair, leaving it healthy and strong.