An occasional glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail or two during a night out with friends can be a great way to wind down and relax with minimal negative health benefits. But with long-term alcohol overindulgence, there can be some serious health effects — both on internal organs and external parts of your body, like skin and hair.
To dig deeper, here's a look at the long-term effects of using excessive alcohol when it comes to the health of your hair. Is there really a connection between hair loss and drinking alcohol? How much is too much? Plus, find out what products you should use to combat thinning hair.
Is There a Connection Between Alcohol and Hair Loss?
Enjoying a drink every once in a while is one thing, but overindulging can come with a host of negative long-term health issues. Overconsumption of alcohol has been linked to blood sugar spikes, increased insulin resistance, liver damage and liver disease. Drinking too much is bad news in general!
But how does overindulging impact hair loss? Is there a connection? According to experts, the answer is yes. The damage excessive alcohol consumption does to the body can stress your hair follicles, which can lead to thinning hair and hair loss. Damage to your hair can also be a result of nutritional imbalances that are often linked to alcohol abuse.
Heavy Drinking and Nutrition
According to dermatologist Dr. Beth Goldstein, the damage that heavy drinking can do to hair is partly due to the link between overconsumption of alcohol and nutrient deficiencies. "Those with significant alcohol use can lack the intake of proper nutrients, leading to malnutrition," she said. "Deficiencies in B-12, folic acid, zinc and niacin are associated with excessive alcohol intake and linked to hair loss."
Studies have found that heavy drinkers often suffer from poor nutrition (sometimes due to poor digestion, poor diet or both) that can lead to long-term nutritional deficiencies. There's no need to stop drinking altogether, but if you want to promote healthy hair follicles, remember that overconsumption of alcohol and hair loss go hand in hand.
Unfortunately, even if you are consuming the nutrients your body needs, drinking too much alcohol (especially on an empty stomach) may cause a spike in acid production, impacting your body's ability to absorb certain key nutrients. And malabsorption can lead to malnutrition, which can spell trouble for your tresses. For example, biotin and zinc deficiencies can cause brittle hair, which can lead to hair loss.
Additionally, a zinc deficiency can cause an increase in cellular oxidative stress, which increases inflammation throughout the body, reducing blood flow. And because healthy blood circulation is essential to scalp health, slower flow can damage new hair growth. Studies show that you can encourage blood flow with regular scalp massages — our GRO Revitalizing Scalp Massager is ideal for stimulating scalp health — as you work to rebalance your diet. You can use your scalp massager on its own or to work in your hair serums, foams or even shampoo in the shower.
Hair-Healthy Foods You Can Add To Your Diet
If you're guilty of alcohol overindulgence, try adding these nutritionally dense foods to your routine to help achieve a balanced diet and encourage healthy hair growth:
- B12: Fortified breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, tempeh and nori seaweed
- Folic acid: Leafy greens, citrus fruit, chia seeds and lentils
- Zinc: Tofu, legumes, chickpeas and walnuts
- Niacin: Quinoa, wild rice, acorn squash and peanuts
You can also pop one of VEGAMOUR's GRO Biotin Gummies each day to get biotin, folic acid, zinc and vitamins B-5, 6 and 12, which can help support your body’s production of keratin and collagen — and encourage healthy hair.
Drinking Alcohol and Stress-Induced Hair Loss
Nutritional deficiencies aren't the only reason drinking too much can cause hair loss — elevated stress levels are also often to blame. While you might know that stress can create an atmosphere that encourages drinking, a growing body of evidence suggests there's a complex link between stress and alcohol consumption. Overdrinking can actually increase stress levels over time, creating a vicious cycle of stress that can be hard to break. Are you drinking because you're stressed, or are you stressed because you're drinking? Experts say it's surprisingly difficult to tell.
So how is this stress cycle linked to hair loss? Stress can enhance neurogenic inflammation, which inhibits hair growth through a variety of complex cellular interactions. Elevated estrogen levels also increase your experience of stress. Plus, there's evidence that drinking may cause hormone levels to fluctuate, further inhibiting hair growth. So if you're trapped in the stress-drinking cycle, you'll probably see negative results in your hair loss patterns.
"The hair sheds in response to stress," explains Dr. Goldstein, "So any increasing stress on the body, whether it be emotional, nutritional or physical — as in the stress resulting from recent surgery or childbirth — will cause hair loss." Stress is actually one of the reasons malnutrition can damage hair follicles, as a lack of nutrients causes follicles to experience physical stress, leading to an increase in hair fall and breakage.
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Ways To Reduce Stress
If you think stress might be the reason behind your alcohol-related hair loss, here are a few stress-busting techniques to try before breaking out that bottle of pinot grigio:
- Exercise: While it might seem counterintuitive, getting your heart rate up is strongly associated with stress reduction. Try going on a neighborhood walk, busting out a few dance moves or even going roller skating.
- Write it down: Taking time to externalize your thoughts in a journal may help reduce stress by getting you to focus on the positive.
- Meditate: At this point, it's a cliche to suggest combating stress with mediation, but it really does work! Even a five-minute meditation can help calm and center you, reducing stress levels.
What To Do If You're Experiencing Hair Loss
If you're experiencing hair loss, don't panic! You're not alone. Research shows that more people than ever are searching for hair loss solutions, as increased alcohol consumption, elevated stress rates and other external factors begin to take a toll. However, it's a good idea to have a chat with your doctor in case there are underlying issues causing your hair loss that need treatment.
On your own, you can work to reduce stress, drink less and improve your diet. You can also add products to your hair wellness routine that encourage healthy hair growth. VEGAMOUR's GRO Discovery Kit is the perfect way to take your hair health to the next level. The kit contains everything you need to encourage the growth of visibly fuller, stronger, thicker hair. These clinically tested formulas increase the appearance of hair density by up to 52% while reducing the signs of shedding by up to 76%.
Overall, if you want to promote the health of your hair, pair a clinically proven serum routine and other hair-healthy products with a holistic approach to whole-body wellness — and ditch the heavy drinking.
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