What? Probiotics improve skin health?
Yes, they do and I’ll tell you exactly how they do it “in a few.” We all want to know how to look young, live long, and live healthy. Our skin is the largest organ in the human body. Therefore, it’s a decent barometer regarding the overall level of health and well-being in individuals. Now let’s discuss something that isn’t new- it’s just not widely known. Probiotics improve skin health.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial to health, especially the health of the digestive and immune systems. We know that the health benefits of probiotics extends also to immune and brain health, our mood and our weight. Probiotics are often referred to as “helpful” bacteria, because they help keep the gut microbiome (and consequently the rest of the body) healthy. They contribute to total wellness, and now we know probiotics improve skin health too. Probiotics benefits for skin have to do mainly with quelling inflammation. Here’s how that happens.
Oral Probiotics and the Gut-Immune- Brain- Skin Axis:
Scientists have been discussing the gut-brain connection and the gut-brain-immune- skin axis for over 50 years. The very solidly proven theory about our GI microbiome is that stress, a poor diet, medications, or toxins can affect the healthy bacteria residing in the gut, causing unfriendly bacteria to set up shop. Eventually, the integrity of the gut lining is affected by this and toxins “leak out” from the gut and into the body. This condition is known as “leaky gut” and can cause everything from food allergies to immune dysfunction to skin inflammation. Inflammation in the skin is associated with disorders such as eczema and rosacea to just plain wrinkles!
Oral probiotics have been demonstrated in clinical studies to improve intestinal barrier function and simultaneously reduce skin inflammation. The orally consumed probiotics reduce systemic markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are also elevated locally in many skin conditions. On a cellular level, the oral probiotics down-regulate the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines within the skin.
What about Eczema and psoriasis?
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. It’s one of the most common types of skin rashes. It is a long-term or chronic condition in most people, although it can improve over time, especially in children. It is often confused with atopic dermatitis. Both of these conditions have been shown, in multiple clinical trials, to be improved with the administration of probiotics.
In fact, in my article about natural eczema treatments, probiotics came in at the top of the list. Additional studies have shown that administering probiotics to infants will lessen the likelihood of those infants developing eczema. Psoriasis is another skin disorder, linked to inflammation, where oral probiotics have been proven to be beneficial. The mechanism of action in these disorders is that the probiotics reduce skin inflammation.
Probiotics for Rosacea
There is no scientific consensus about what causes rosacea, but it can become quite noticeable and cause considerable distress to sufferers.
It typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 60 and is much more common in women than in men. Eventually, it may even affect the shape of the nose, causing it to swell and get bumpy.
There are many conventional treatments that are commonly recommended, such as avoiding triggers that irritate the symptoms (for example: spicy food, stress,sun, heat or alcohol), prescription medications (containing antibiotics or anti-inflammatory steroids) or intense-pulsed-light photo-facials.
However, these treatments often do not provide any substantial relief. Worse yet- the prescription medications are just awful for the health of the microbiome. Studies have demonstrated that oral probiotics are helpful in reducing the inflammation and thus, the symptoms of rosacea. Interestingly enough, although the anti-inflammatory effect is not the same, topical probiotics seem to help, scientifically and anecdotally. Anecdotally, homemade topical kefir masks help some rosacea sufferers. Please-if you try this-do not use commercially made kefir, filled with sugar and other inflammatory ingredients.
Probiotics Benefits for Skin Extends to Anti-aging
Can we look younger by taking probiotics? You know that having a well functioning GI microbiome boosts our immune systems.
Having a strong immune system benefits all organs of the body, including the skin.
There are about 100 million microbes (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that live on and in the human body. Ongoing studies suggest that the lowering of skin inflammation (via many different mechanisms including the use of probiotics) will stimulate collagen production in the skin. In addition, it will likely decrease the amount of collagen loss we experience via “normal aging.” Researchers are also suggesting that probiotics can benefit aging skin via topical applications as well. So stay tuned to see if topical probiotics will be proven to be effective anti-aging skincare products.