How can probiotics affect our skin?

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We should all be aware of the association of probiotics and digestive health, but there are now ongoing studies showing how it can improve our skin as well. Some skin diseases that have shown improvement with the help of probiotics are acne, atopic dermatitis / eczemapsoriasis, and rosacea.

Acne - Probiotics

Bacteria is located throughout our entire body- some which are uninvited. When there is an abundance of 'bad' bacteria, many doctors will prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection causing bacteria in their patient's body. With the amount of research available today, it has been concluded that antibiotics are also removing beneficial bacteria from our bodies.  With that said, studies show probiotics to be extremely beneficial in such cases that antibiotics are taken, to bring back a balance between the good and bad bacteria. In addition, stress, anxiety and poor diet can also affect one’s digestive health. Poor digestive health allows for additional 'bad' bacteria to colonize, leading to an increase in inflammation.

Some skin diseases that cause inflammation are acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and rosacea. 

Acne is a common skin condition characterized by excessive secretion of an oily or waxy matter, called sebum and inflammation of the skin. On the other hand, atopic dermatitis, also referred to as eczema, is a skin condition characterized by an inability to hold moisture, which predominantly causes dryness, itchiness, scratching and inflammation. Psoriasis is a skin condition in which skin cells grow too quickly, resulting in thick white, silvery, or red patches of skin. Inflammation and flaking of the skin are also associated with this disease, commonly affecting the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back. Furthermore, similar to acne, rosacea is a skin condition causing redness, flushing, swelling, or acne-like breakouts affecting the facial area, chest and/or back. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Inflammation is a natural and highly regulated response that provides protection and promotes healing when infection or injury occurs. However, if left unregulated, these same processes can cause further tissue injury and damage.”

Dr. Whitney Bowe - ProbioticsWhitney P. Bowe, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine, believes topical and oral probiotics can benefit the skin. Dr. Bowe explained that oral probiotics containing Lactobacilli and/or Bifidobacterium can positively influence skin conditions by what is known as the “gut-brain-skin axis.” Ultimately, this theory is set to believe that stress alone, or when in combination with a poor diet, can slow digestion, resulting the gut lining to become leaky. Toxins are then released into the bloodstream causing inflammation throughout the body. People who are more prone to skin diseases can experience flares due to bacterial imbalance in the gut. Dr. Bowe advises her patients to “ find ways to help manage or cope with stress, fix their diet or introduce healthy bacteria to the gut in the form of probiotics.” These changes are said to provide a healthy sealed barrier in the gut to prevent inflammation that can trigger skin diseases such as acne or rosacea. Studies done in Russia, Korea and Italy using probiotics showed great improvement in acne and rosacea symptoms.

Although there are still ongoing studies with topical use of probiotics, Dr. Bowe still believes it plays a great part as a protective shield, in antimicrobial properties, and as a calming effect, all in which to prevent the bad bacteria from provoking an immune reaction causing inflammation.

Many topical products, such as Andalou Naturals and Eminence, use resveratrol fermented extracts. Resveratrol is made up of plant compounds called polyphenols, containing antioxidants which is highly known for its anti-aging and disease-combating properties. It is naturally found in the skin of red grapes and other sources such as peanuts and berries. Recent studies showed that products containing resveratrol too can help in preventing skin cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's', diabetes, and even obesity. Not only does probiotics help externally, but the internal benefits are innumerable!


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