Skin is the largest organ in the human body and is a representation overall health and wellbeing. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that are beneficial to health, especially the digestive system. Bacteria is often thought of as something that causes disease, but more and more is being discovered daily on the benefits of healthy bacteria in the body in all organs, including the skin. A healthy balance of gut bacteria elevates the human immune system. Having a strong immune system benefits all organs of the body, including the skin.
Everyday, new benefits of probiotics are being discovered in their role in skin heath, such as in improving the skin barrier in atopic dermatitis, promoting the healing of wounds, rejuvenating the skin, and improving the skin’s immune response to fight infection. For those folks with acne, supplementing with probiotics, particularly lactobacillus acidophilus and the yeast saccharomyces cerevisiae, will often improve their acne.
Even eczema and psoriasis may benefit by adding daily probiotics. Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. It can be thought of as both an allergy in the skin in combination with a compromised skin barrier. Psoriasis is complicated, genetically-predisposed skin condition, linked to inflammation, where oral probiotics have been shown to be beneficial.
Good bacteria in the gut can help clear the toxins and free radicals that damage skin and cause aging. Introducing probiotics will not only flush out bodily toxins, but repair the harmful damage caused by free radicals. Probiotics may benefit skin not only through the digestive tract, but also when given in topical formulation, such as creams or lotion.
Strengthen Skin Barrier
Probiotics have been proven to strengthen the skin’s barrier function by supporting a healthy skin microbiome (protective natural microorganisms). Since the skin functions to protect the body from infection and environmental toxins, a healthy skin barrier will protect against unfriendly bacteria, pollution and free radicals, all of which can accelerate aging. When the skin barrier is strengthened, it’s ability to retain moisture is improved. When the skin is well-hydrated, wrinkles are less visible and the skin is less prone to developing a dermatitis.
None of the experts agree as to what exactly causes rosacea, but it is a common condition resulting from inflammation. There are many commonly recommended treatments, such as avoiding triggers that worsen the symptoms (chemicals, fragrances, stress, spicy food, sun alcohol or heat), prescription medications (usually anti-inflammatory antibiotics) or laser treatments. While these treatments often control the condition to a certain degree, rosacea symptoms often persist. Preliminary studies have shown that probiotics, applied directly to the skin and taken internally can improve and prevent rosacea.
Oral Probiotics and the Gut Brain Skin Axis
For almost a century, scientists have discussed the importance of the gut-brain-skin axis. The thought process is that stress (brain) or stress in combination with a poor diet (brain-gut) can affect the healthy bacteria in the gut, causing unfriendly bacteria to start to outnumber the healthy bacteria that normally reside there. Eventually, the integrity of the gut lining is affected by this and toxins “leak out” from the gut and into the body, causing inflammation that can trigger inflammation in the skin. This connection is enhanced by the observation that probiotics improve skin conditions. Unfortunately, a lot of research in this arena still needs to be done as the exact recommendations cannot be determined for best health benefits. The current recommendations are to avoid antibiotics, unless medically needed, avoid foods that are treated with antibiotics (meat, milk), eat a variety of fermented foods, and to take a variety of probiotics on a daily basis.