Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton turned gray-haired while in office. Now we know why.
Genetics plays a part for sure. But it turns out the body's stress response can do a dance with color-producing (melanocyte) stem cells that cluster in the hair follicle and set off a cascade of events that strips pigment from each strand of hair.
Harvard researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature that reveals the process. Your sympathetic nervous system, which transports your body's fight-or-flight messages, has nerves that affect each hair follicle. When there is extreme or chronic stress, those nerves are hyperactivated and release the neurotransmitter norepinephrine.
That gets into each hair strand's nearby pigment-regenerating stem cells and knocks out their ability to color your hair.
And while gray hair can be very attractive, what a hyped-up reaction to stress does to your body is not.
It ages your internal organs and circulatory system. Dr. Mike analyzed the medical records of U.S. presidents from 1920 on and found that sitting presidents age two years for every one year spent in that high-pressure job.
So if you want to keep your body from graying inside and out, we suggest 10 minutes of mindful meditation in the morning and at night; at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily; walking 10,000 steps daily; spending time with friends and family; and getting seven to eight hours of quality sleep nightly.
The world will appear much more colorful if you do.