Probiotics Known to Improve Skin Health

If your medicine cabinet is packed with age-defying lotions, creams and serums which you secretly hope can turn back the clock to the time when your nails and hair were healthier and you had fewer wrinkles, then you’re in the perfect place.

The truth is that most of us would be extremely happy to pass several years younger than our age. The cosmetic industry is well-aware of this fact and it delivers all kinds of products which are claimed to be the fountain of youth and beauty. These might work or not.

But only a few people are aware of the fact that maintaining an optimal balance between good and bad bacteria in our organism has some positive properties way beyond our digestive tracts. Such balance will also affect the health and beauty of our skin and this has already been proven by studies and research. Probiotics also called “good bacteria” are similar to the microorganisms that already exist in our bodies and can be found in dietary supplements or in some foods. They are able to prevent or even treat various skin disorders or even wrinkles; therefore you should start considering them as your skin’s best friends.[1][2]

  1. Reasons for Bad Skin Conditions

Our skin is the largest organ in the body and it’s an indicator of our health and wellbeing. Probiotics are live yeast and bacteria which have many health benefits, especially for our digestive system. Bacteria are often considered something bad for our health, something that can cause disease, but our bodies are full of both good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are substances which are mostly referred as helpful for the organism or good bacteria, and they keep our gut healthy, contributing to the body’s total wellness, including a healthy skin.

Links between Gut Disorders and Skin Problems: The Great Impact of Altered Gut Functions on the Skin

Various epidemiological studies have already shown a certain link between gut disorders and skin conditions, indicating that a small intestine bacterial overgrowth aka SIBO (a condition which involves an inappropriate growth of bacteria inside the small intestine) is a condition 10 times more prevalent in the cases of patients who suffer from acne rosacea. Correcting the SIBO condition in these individuals led to remarkable health improvements.

Another example is that 14% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 24% having Crohn’s disease manifest some skin disorders. Celiac disease also has some skin manifestations and these cutaneous symptoms include dermatitis herpetiformis, alopecia, increased frequency of oral mucosal lesions and vitiligo.

Intestinal permeability or, in other words, leaky gut, can cause local and systemic inflammations which will eventually lead to various skin disorders. Many studies suggest that this increased intestinal permeability is definitely a serious issue for a significant number of acne patients.

Regarding this subject of permeable barriers, many of us might have heard of terms such as “leaky gut” but what about the “leaky skin”? It’s essential to know that the primary function of our skin is to act as a chemical, physical and antimicrobial defense system for the protection of our bodies. Research has demonstrated so far that both gut inflammation and stress have the capacity of impairing the integrity and the protective functions of the epidermal barriers. The result will be a decreased production of antimicrobial peptides in the skin and an increased risk of severe infection and also inflammations of the skin.

The gut flora has a significant influence on the skin. For instance, substance P represents a neuropeptide produced inside the stomach, skin and brain which is essential for different skin conditions. When the gut microflora is altered, this will promote the release of substance P in the skin and also in the gut, but fortunately probiotics are the answer to the problem because they can minimize this effect.[3][4]

Healthy Gut: The Foundation of a Clear and Beautiful Skin

People who have been struggling with skin issues such as acne for years or even decades should definitely know that the answer to their problems lays in the deep connection between skin and gut, in the majority of cases. The relationship between clear skin and gut balance can be traced back in time over 7 decades ago when dermatologists Donald M. Pillsbury and H. Stokes first established a link between anxiety, depression and skin problems such as acne.

Their studies showed that stress and other negative emotional states like depression and anxiety have the capacity to alter gut microflora. Over time, all this can compromise the integrity of our intestines and can also contribute to a permeable gut and inflammation. The spread of such inflammation is different for every patient because it is systemic. This means that it can manifest as different symptoms, in most cases having a direct effect on the skin.[5][6][7]

  1. Probiotics as Remedies

The solution for all these problems which was long ago used by Stokes and Pillsbury is now known all over the world – the common bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, the most common strain of probiotic you can find on the market. Another remedy is cod liver oil, a very effective treatment for skin conditions rich in vitamin D and A, with a very powerful impact on the skin’s health.

70-80% of our immunity lies in a healthy gut, and if we have a wall-functioning digestive system, our overall health is better, and inflammation will be much lower.

What Can Alter the Good/Bad Ratio of Bacteria in the Body?

  • Physical, emotional and mental stress
  • Poor diets: fats, rancid oils, sugars and carbs, refined/processed foods, alcohol, caffeine etc.
  • Lack of sleep: this will alter the cortisol levels and it will create stress.
  • Antibiotics and other medications
  • Food sensitivities
  • Poor digestion: if we lack the proper ability to digest food thoroughly, the result will be a large quantity of toxins and harmful bacteria in our systems.

[8][9]

  1. Topical Probiotics: External Use Benefits

When microbes lurk on the skin of patients suffering from rosacea, their immune system will think that the bacteria are harmful and will create an immune response, trying to kill them. The result consists in inflammation, bumps and redness. When probiotics are topically applied, they’ll have the ability to prevent the skin from thinking that the microbes are harmful, and this way, they’ll avoid such immune response. It’s important to know that probiotics themselves have some anti-microbial properties and the ability to kill microbes.

Applying Kefir

Kefir is a fermented milk drink which can be made at home very quickly and inexpensively. Its composition is very high in probiotics and it contains many beneficial yeasts and strains of bacteria. Most people found out that applying a mask with kefir on the face will have a calming effect, soothing the skin affected by rosacea. It also contains lactic acid which has strong anti-aging properties and it’s also a natural exfoliant with important properties for acne-prone skin.

Many manufacturers in the cosmetic industry have already started using probiotics in the composition of their creams, masks and cleansers. Below, you’ll find some of the ways in which topical probiotics offer benefits for the skin:

Probiotics are Acting as a Protective Shield

Probiotics have the capacity to strengthen the skin’s barrier functions. Our skin represents the physical shield which offers protection to our internal organs, keeping out toxins and pathogens. Besides the microflora that lives in the human gut, there’s also a skin microbiome consisting in friendly microorganisms with protection roles. These offer freedom from pollution and free radicals which accelerate the aging processes.

Unpleasant skin conditions such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis or acne are triggered and exacerbated by unfriendly bacteria. The good bacteria found in probiotics have the ability to produce acids which lower the skin Ph, discouraging colonization by microbes which cause disease. So, probiotics, when applied topically, sit on the skin’s surface and prevent the skin cells from seeing the dangerous microorganisms which cause the immune system response. This is called bacterial interference and probiotics act as a protective shield for the skin, interfering with the ability of harmful bacteria to provoke reactions from our immunity.

Probiotics Have Antimicrobial Properties

The substances produced by probiotics usually have antimicrobial properties, killing dangerous microorganisms. This is similar to the way antibiotics work in treating rosacea and acne; probiotics fight harmful bacteria and keep them from provoking inflammation.

Probiotics Have Moisturizing and Calming Effects

Probiotics also have the capacity of maintaining moisture. A well-moisturized skin will be able to make wrinkles less visible. Probiotic bacteria also produce hyaluronic acid (HA) which is a natural substance from our bodies and also a major component of the skin that helps in providing it elasticity, tightness and strength. HA is lost as time passes and we age, and the result is a less moisturized skin. So, the fact that certain probiotic bacteria produce HA offers the skin lots of moisture and thickness.

Sometimes, when certain types of probiotics are placed in contact with skin cells, they have the ability to calm some parts of the cells which may want to react to the negative presence of harmful bacteria seen as a threat. The probiotics produce strong signals that stop the skin cells from sending messages to the immune system which can result in rosacea or acne.

Probiotics Offer Protection from Sun Damage

Probiotics can also protect the skin against damaging UV rays from the sun which cause premature wrinkles and skin aging. Applying probiotics on the skin can result in significantly reduced signs of UV skin damage, but this doesn’t mean you should replace sunscreen with probiotics, because the physical protection against the rays of the sun is the best.

Probiotics Favor the Synthesizing of Collagen

Collagen represents a protein made inside the dermal layers of the skin which offer elasticity to the skin, making it very smooth. Its production decreases as we age, resulting in saggy skin and wrinkles. There are several probiotic bacteria which produce some proteins that bind collagen proteins together and create a structure which maintains the skin firm and smooth (Lactobacillus fermentumRC-14, L. rhamnosus GR-1 and 36, and L. casei Shirota). Also eating soy products such as soy milk or tofu and dark green vegetables will increase the collagen production.

Probiotics Prevent Rosacea

Rosacea is a widespread chronic skin problem which is usually noticeable in fair-skinned people and the symptoms include the following:

  • Red skin on the cheeks, chin, nose or forehead
  • Visible small blood vessels all around the face
  • Irritated or watery eyes
  • Pimples or bumps on the face

The exact causes of this skin condition are not yet fully known, but it can very quickly become noticeable and it can cause anxiety and distress to the person who is suffering from its symptoms. Research and studies have shown that probiotics, when applied directly to the problematic areas of the skin and also when they’re taken internally, can help improve and even prevent this skin problem.[10][11][12][13][14]

  1. Oral Probiotics: Internal Use Benefits

The Gut-Brain-Skin Axis

Since the year 1930, scientists have been describing this gut-brain-skin axis and the theory behind this is the fact that stress (alone or combined with a poor diet) has the ability to affect the healthy microflora from the gut, resulting in an increased number of harmful bacteria. As shown above, the integrity of the gut will eventually be affected and the toxins will leak out from the intestines into the whole body, causing inflammation.

Consuming probiotics from different foods or supplements and also improving the diet will help the gut to regain its healthy flora.

You Are What You Eat: Health from the Inside

Probiotics can help you win the fight with time, by reducing the signs of aging. Here are the ways:

  • Keeping You Slim

Microflora from the gut has the ability to lessen the craving for unhealthy foods such as carbs, alcohol or sugar. Some new studies have shown that obese or overweight people have a different kind of bacteria in their gut than individuals with a healthy weight. Scientists’ opinion is that healthy bacteria help a lot by keeping you from gaining weight.

  • Cleaning Your Liver

Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches us that our liver has the ability to affect the health of our eyes and also of our skin. People with a clean and healthy liver will notice that they have better quality skin and they lack liver spots which can be seen on the skin of those who have an ill liver. Along with liver spots, other symptoms of a not so healthy liver are skin tags and moles.

  • Curing Acne

Some small studies from Korea, Russia and Italy have shown that the use of probiotics in conjunction with some standard treatments for acne can increase the rate of a clearer skin and it can help patients with acne to better tolerate treatments involving antibiotics. Probiotics can reduce the number of active lesions on the skin, forming a protective shield which can prevent painful pimple-causing bacteria.

  • Reducing Eczema

Finnish studies showed that some pregnant women who took probiotic supplements during their pregnancy or only for 2 weeks before birth and after birth if they were breastfeeding helped their babies by reducing the risk of eczema.

  • Preventing wrinkles

Beneficial bacteria from our gut can help us eliminate free radicals and toxins which are responsible for damaged skin and for the early signs of aging.

  • Offering a Glowing Complexion

The ingestion of probiotics can help us to digest better and assimilate the nutrients from our foods. This means that our skin will receive lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which keep it healthy and beautiful.

  • Maintaining a Healthy and Beautiful Hair

Even if hair is dead, each follicle of hair is surrounded by enough healthy blood vessels. Beneficial bacteria from probiotics keep our intestines as clean and as healthy as possible, attacking toxins and pathogens to maintain a healthy blood flow. As a result, healthy blood will nourish nails, hair and skin!

  • Keeping Our Fingernails Strong

Nails composition includes proteins and probiotics have the ability to break down the proteins we eat into the amino acids which are responsible for building flexible and healthy nails.

  • Energizing the Body

When we’re tired, we find it harder to feel and to look good. Probiotics can boost out immune system and will make digestion much easier giving us the energy we need to look and feel our best.

Probiotics in Your Daily Diet: Fermented Beverages and Foods

If you actually want to feel and look your best, it’s time to add some probiotics to your daily diet. Besides probiotic supplements, fermented foods and beverages represent the perfect way. Some specialists think that fermented beverages and foods as the best source for probiotics because their beneficial effects are more potent than the ones of supplements. It seems that probiotic supplements do not always survive inside of our bodies due to the acidic environment of the stomach; therefore they should be taken along with some fermented liquids and foods.

Here are some fermented beverages and foods for a healthy and nutritious diet which will make you feel great and look your best in no time:

  • Young Coconut Kefir: this is a bubbly and delicious beverage perfect for anyone who wishes to stay in shape or to improve the quality of their skin.
  • Raw cultured veggies: these will provide your body with the necessary quantity of probiotics at every meal; they don’t only taste great, but they also help in digesting some other foods, providing great nutrient substances for the hair, skin and nails.
  • Natto: this is prepared with soybeans and after fermentation it forms the beneficial bacteria Bacillus; this is an excellent source of iron, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin K2 which is essential for the heart’s health.
  • Pickles: raw pickles are your best friend, introducing you to fermented foods; they make quite a delicious snack and they also aid all the digestion processes, supporting a healthy immune system.

By incorporating fermented drinks and foods into your daily diet, you’ll only enjoy one part of this whole beauty and health puzzle. The other ones consist of drinking enough water, eating whole foods, exercising daily and getting plenty of sleep.

You should also remember that, instead of using lotion and creams on your skin, it’s definitely more efficient if you eat a delicious meal that includes some minerals, vitamins, high-quality proteins, virgin and organic oils and fats and obviously probiotic foods. This way, you will be able to save some money and also to strengthen your microflora, so that it’ll work in your best interest for keeping you healthy, beautiful and young.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

Probiotic References   [ + ]

Lucy Martinez