Can you eat hair?

In this brief article, we will address the query, “Can you eat hair?” with a thorough analysis of the health risks associated with the consumption of hair.

Read on to know exactly when hair consumption poses a threat. 

Can you eat hair?

No, it is not allowed to eat hair. But in case you or your child has consumed hair mistakenly, it will not cause any harm to the body. Hair consists of 97 per cent protein which is generally harmless for the body.

If you happen to consume hair by mistake, drink plenty of water or eat a good amount of food that contains fibre which will help to stimulate gastrointestinal peristalsis, accelerate the bowel movement that will remove the hair from the gastrointestinal tract.

What is hair made of?

Human hair is made up of a protein which is termed Keratin. Keratin is also involved in the formation of our fingernails, the outer layer of our skin, and it is also a component of the lining of our internal body organs.

Keratin consists of an amino acid called L-cysteine which is used in foods such as dough and bread which give a plus point to our food items by increasing their shelf life. Keratin is also being sold as a dietary supplement. So, it is also observed that consumption of hair is also a quite normal process.

Finding hair in the food

Finding roaches in your kitchen, insects on your skin, crumbs on your beds, and hair in your food all are very disgusting scenarios that make us feel very bad and we are always forced to say “yuck”. 

The result is never pleasing whenever we find it on our plate of dal or mix it with veggies. But the major question is what will be caused due to consumption of such hair mistakenly.

Is hair in food harmful?

Hair is majorly composed of keratin. Keratin is a protein that makes our hair chemically inactive. It does not cause any reaction in the gut just like other proteins which are present in food. This means it will cause no digestive problem if we eat food that is contaminated with hair.

Therefore, it is also said that hair in its natural form will not harm health. But sometimes it is also claimed that hair mixed with food consumption can cause a harmful effect.

When does hair pose a threat?

Sometimes, our hair is in touch with other materials that can nullify the benignity of hair. Shampoos, oils, conditioners, sprays, dyes, gel, and hair serum are all considered environmental pathogens that can contaminate our food but the good news is none of these products can cause chemical hazards.

However, hair may create a physical issue like swallowing hair can puncture the mucous membrane. Swallowing hair can also cause biological harm as it can also carry bacteria such as Staphylococcus which can cause loss of hair.

The keratin protein of hair cannot be decomposed by the body parts until it gets the highest temperature, so if you swallow a small strand of hair it will leave the body as undigested food. But it may be a risk of hair consumption when we consume it in a greater volume of hair for a longer period. 

Continuous consumption of hair for a very long time can lead to the formation of a hairball which is known as trichobezoars in the stomach. This disease trichobezoars can cause hurdles in the regular body functioning.

Trichophagia, which is also one of the syndromes caused due to hair consumption can result in severe symptoms that include vomiting, stomach aches, and also many other health problems. It can also cause severe weight loss.

Bottom line 

The hair itself is a harmless material, but when it is exposed to certain chemicals and environmental conditions it can cause the alteration of its benignity. Although chances are very low to get harm from consuming hair either its physical or chemical. 

It is a very rare and exceptional case that people get to suffer from hair when it is eaten mistakenly while eating food. 

So, if you ever observe any hair in your food product, pick it up and throw it away and continue enjoying your food. But if you swallow it mistakenly then there is no need to panic, you will live as you were living before the swallowing of hair.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the query, “Can you eat hair?” with a thorough analysis of the health risks associated with the consumption of hair, what syndrome can be caused due to hair consumption, and when does hair consumption pose a threat?

References

https://www.quora.com/What-happens-if-you-eat-hair
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/food-news/hair-in-your-food-safe-or-unsafe/photostory/72185667.cms?picid=72185678

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.