They say you are what you eat, and now it seems your hair may reveal what’s on your plate. According to a new study from the University of Utah, your hair could shed light on what you eat, as well as what health risks you could face. Researchers collected 684 hair clippings from haircuts at barber shops and salons in 65 U.S. cities and analyzed those strands to identify dietary patterns in those communities.
So how could they determine diet from locks of hair? By analyzing the hair, scientists found variations that reflect different food products, either eaten directly by people or indirectly through animal feed eaten by animals they ate. Researchers were then able to use that information to determine a community’s dietary patterns and health risks. For example, people whose hair revealed a high-protein, meat-based diet were more likely to live in areas with higher rates of health problems like heart disease.
Researchers were even able to use the hair samples to accurately predict the ballpark cost of a haircut based on carbon isotopes in hair. Lower carbon levels in the hair indicated higher cost of living, which typically meant a more expensive haircut. And what will this type of hair sample analysis be used for? Researchers could use it in future studies to more accurately track what people eat, rather than rely on their ability to remember every bite or drink they took.