It’s a complaint I hear occasionally from people starting the Wheat Belly lifestyle: “I’m losing my hair. Big clumps of hair fall out when I brush!”
Why does this happen? And is it permanent? Will people become bald after a few months?
Take a look at the many before/afters people have posted on the Wheat Belly Facebook page and the photos I’ve posted over the years on the Wheat Belly Blog. Even within the first few days, we commonly witness a curious and dramatic reduction in facial swelling, reduction in around-the-eye puffiness, reversal of skin redness. Many people look quite different. In other words, we see reversal of skin inflammation upon removal of all wheat and grains, since we are removing the several skin inflammation-provoking components such as gliadin, gliadin-derived peptides, wheat germ agglutinin, and the insulinotrophic amylopectin A. Although we see it most clearly on the face, the process of inflammation reversal is body-wide, from head to toe, from mouth to anus, from airway to brain.
Recall that hair is a form of skin and it obviously originates within the skin. When the skin of the scalp experiences reduced inflammation, it sometimes responds with hair loss. So hair loss is an early feature of the response to inflammation reversal that develops in some people. The majority of people who experience this effect find that, after a few months, hair grows back thicker and richer than before.
The only time you need to pursue other causes is if the hair loss proves persistent, an uncommon development. But if you do, consider:
- Thyroid dysfunction—If you have added all the components of the Wheat Belly lifestyle, you should have already added iodine. But then consider hypothyroidism, as it is exceptionally common. Have a full thyroid panel run that includes TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. See the Wheat Belly Total Health, Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox, or Undoctored books for the values we aim to achieve for optimal thyroid status.
- Biotin?—While biotin 2 mg per day is often cited as helping hair grow, I have never witnessed any success with this B vitamin. But it is benign and inexpensive.
- Boost oxytocin—Unconventional, but boosting oxytocin by consuming our L. reuteri yogurt can occasionally provoke regrowth of thicker hair, in addition to its other spectacular benefits.
- Collagen hydrolysates—Combine the oxytocin-boosting L. reuteri yogurt with collagen hydrolysates and you can, over time, enjoy thicker hair (though it will not cause new hair growth). Two tablespoons per day added, for instance, to your coffee makes it easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Zinc—Zinc is important for skin, and thereby hair, health. If you are not an enthusiastic consumer of animal products (virtually all zinc comes from animal products), then some people respond to zinc supplementation, e.g., 15-20 mg per day.
- Consider small intestinal bacterial and/or fungal overgrowth—These advanced topics are issues we pursue in detail in my Undoctored programs. I show you how to identify, confirm, then manage these conditions on your own, since most doctors remain woefully in the dark about these important–and I believe epidemic—health issues. Skin inflammation and rashes are a common manifestation of these disruptions of bowel flora.
Hair loss is a phenomenon shared by all dietary programs that eliminate wheat and grains such as the ketogenic diet, Atkins,’ paleo, etc. I also witnessed hair loss in people in the early Wheat Belly days before I added other strategies such as purposeful efforts to cultivate bowel flora, resulting just with wheat/grain elimination. You might even view hair loss as a positive sign, a sign that you are having a substantial effect in reversing body-wide inflammation.