This years festive season, while very different to a traditional Christmas may well still include a few festive drinks and let’s face it we’ve all earnt one after the way this year has gone! But it may surprise you to know that alcohol can actually have an effect on the health of your hair!
Here’s a few things to look out for…
Alcohol has high levels of sugar and dehydrating properties that we’re all familiar with… think morning hangovers, puffy eyes etc. And what this means for your hair is that it’s going to become dehydrated and fragile.
Alcohol is a toxin, so even when you drink a small amount it can have a negative effect on your body, visible in your skin and hair. Alcohol’s dehydrating abilities can actually lead to hair loss if drunk regularly in excess.
SLEEP AND STRESS
While we sleep, our body regenerates and repairs our cells. If you’re sleep deprived this can cause a whole host of problems, including your body’s ability to rejuvenate hair and skin cells.
Furthermore, if our sleep is disrupted this can make us more susceptible to stress which can cause neurogenic inflammation and impair our body’s ability to absorb enough oxygen. Our hair follicles need oxygen in order to function so if they don’t receive enough of it, our hair health could be compromised. Alcohol can disrupt your normal sleep patterns and in turn can over a long term period cause significant hair issues.
If a lack of sleep is causing you to feel stressed, this can also trigger Trichotillomania – a condition where you pull out your own hair!
Drinking alcohol can disrupt your body’s natural hormone levels. When you drink your body can experience a spike in oestrogen production (this is the case for both men and women).
When we have higher levels of oestrogen in our body, it can affect how many nutrients were able to take in. Excess oestrogen disturbs our body’s ability to absorb Vitamins A and E, Iron, and the mineral Zinc – all of which are vital nutrients our hair needs to grow and stay healthy. In particular, Zinc plays a key role in the process of keratinization. This is the formation of the protein keratin which creates the hair follicle.
If our hair roots don’t receive enough of these vitamins and minerals, this can kill off the follicle completely which in turn causes hair loss.
We all know alcohol causes dehydration. Part of the reason for this is because it is a diuretic meaning it makes you want to go to the toilet more so the body loses liquid at a much quicker rate when you’re consuming it.
If you’ve been out on the town, the next day you tend to wake up groggy and thirsty. That headache is from being dehydrated too! The body is alerting you that it needs to replenish itself with water and the nutrients it lost the night before. When water makes up 55-75% of your body weight, it’s vital for keeping your body’s systems going.
When it comes to your hair, water plays an important part in hair follicle function. As alcohol dehydrates your skin, it can reduce elasticity and strength in the scalp which can lead to the follicles becoming damaged along with the hair shaft.
As the skin has dried out, you may also find yourself scratching at the scalp to try and relieve the irritation which can further damage the follicles.
BLOOD TOXINS AND BODY ACIDITY
If you drink alcohol regularly and in large volumes, you can cause irreversible damage to your liver. When dehydrated, your liver has to work harder to support your body. With a drop in your body’s water levels, toxins in your blood mount up and when your liver’s main job is to filter, purifying and remove toxins from your blood, by adding alcohol into the equation it only makes it harder to do this.
When you drink alcohol, you can cause your body’s acidic levels to peak too. When your body realizes its acid levels are too high, it tries to reduce them by using protein stored in the body. One of the proteins it utilizes is keratin.
Keratin is a key protein used to build hair follicles and promote hair strength. The more alcohol you consume the more your body has to use up it’s store of keratin, so it will no longer use it on your hair. This could cause your tresses to feel damaged or brittle, and cause it to break or even cause hair loss.
Alcohol also contains a lot of preservatives. While most of us tend to avoid foods with added preservatives as we know they don’t contain substantial nutritional value as other, more natural foods you can purchase. When we digest foods and liquids with preservatives in them this can lead to killing off good bacteria. Not having the right bacteria in your gut can cause a host of health issues, some of which can eventually lead to hair loss.
Having a balanced diet and proper nutritional intake is important for your overall health. Alcohol is an inflammatory and when our hair follicles are inflamed this promotes the thinning of the hair and eventually can cause total hair loss. Drink alcohol in moderation, always. It will benefit your overall health as well as the look of your locks.
In conclusion, while we all will be indulging in a few (well deserved) drinks this Christmas, if you’re worried about your hair health or are experiencing hair loss then it may be worth switching a few alcoholic ones out. Additionally, ensure you take time this Christmas for yourself and ensure you have some much needed ‘me-time’. This year has been undeniably tough in ways many of us are only starting to imagine.. make sure you are a priority while you’re looking after everyone around you.
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