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Gluten Intolerance & Hair Growth

By Chris Dinesen Rogers ; Updated July 18, 2017

Gluten intolerance or celiac disease can cause of host of symptoms that can contribute to poor hair growth. The effects occur because of the damage the disease causes in the digestive system. Celiac disease affects 1 in 133 Americans, explains a 2003 study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine." Symptoms of the disease include gastrointestinal distress, weight loss as well as malabsorption of nutrients.

What Is Gluten Intolerance?

A person who is sensitive to gluten cannot safely eat foods containing wheat, rye or barley. Gluten is a protein found in these foods. It causes an abnormal auto-immune reaction in the body. When you eat gluten-containing foods, the body responds by attacking structures within the small intestine. Celiac disease is detected by a blood test that identifies a specific antibody that attacks gluten. A biopsy confirms the diagnosis. Individuals with this disease may also suffer from skin conditions that can contribute to hair loss including alopecia areata.

Malabsorption

Hair growth is impacted by gluten intolerance because of malabsorption of nutrients. Celiac disease causes physical damage to the small intestine that in turn, affects nutrient absorption. The result is nutrient deficiencies since most of the absorption occurs in the small intestine. Deficiencies in vitamins B-1, B-12 and C can contribute to hair loss and gluten intolerance. Vitamin C, for example, produces collagen, a protein responsible for the development and maintenance of connective tissue and hair.

Treatment

Treatment for celiac disease is often simply following a gluten-free lifestyle. The body will eventually repair the intestinal damage and restore proper nutrient absorption to restore normal hair growth. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains that you may see results within days of adopting a gluten-free diet. However, if you don't see improvements in hair growth, you may need to examine your diet more carefully.

Supplements

One of the major obstacles that gluten-intolerant individuals face is totally eliminating gluten from their diet. You may be surprised to learn how prevalent gluten is. There are the obvious sources like bread and pasta. Gluten is also found in a variety of food additives including added sugars, flavorings and colorings. Food labeling is voluntary; it's up to you as the consumer to research the gluten content of different foods and beverages. Some individuals are so sensitive to gluten that even miniscule amounts can trigger reactions and set the stage for malabsorption and dietary deficiencies.

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