Probiotics & Their Effect On The Skin
Probiotics & Their Effect On Your Skin.
— Naturopath Natalie Earles guides us through how gut health is imperative for glowing skin.
✎ Natalie Earles
Naturopath BHSc. / Content writer
The human gut is home to around 80% of our immune system and the bacteria that lives within the gut is important to its overall health. The bacteria is so expansive that we have 10x more of these microbes living within us than we do our own human cells. The gut and its overall health packs a punch when it comes to the appearance of our skin; supporting good gut health can help reduce the appearance of skin conditions such as Acne, Eczema, Rosacea and Psoriasis as well improve the general skin appearance reducing redness and inflammation, dryness, wrinkles and elasticity.
Our skin and our gut are both epithelial tissues and, despite their different locations, what affects one appears to affect the other. When there is inflammation in the gut, your skin can become dry, irritated, red or simply even dull in appearance. Conditions that affect the gut tend to have an outward appearance, those with Coeliac disease have an increase in skin presentations such as Dermatitis herptiformis a dry, itchy skin condition. Similarly, those with inflammatory bowel disorders also tend to have an increase in skin manifestations. Reduced bacterial diversity and overgrowths can also effect the presentation of the skin – conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (where bacteria from the large intestine overgrows in the small intestine) is 10x more common in those with Acne Rosacea, whilst those with Acne Vulgaris show a difference in bacterial diversity in the gut from those with no skin complaints.
Understanding Pre & Probiotics
When treating some skin complaints, banishing the bad bacteria has often been the target. In killing off internal and topical bad bugs, the process often destroys the good too. To maintain health we are always striving for a balance, so boosting the good bugs with pre and probiotics can often be a helpful way to improve the gut environment and get on top of skin complaints.
Pre and probiotics both serve different functions in our gut health. Probiotics are live microorganisms which work by often competing with potentially pathogenic bacteria for a spot in the gut (simply put: having more good gut bugs pushes out the bad gut bugs). They can interact with our immune cells, help to reduce inflammation, and repair damage done to our gut wall.
Prebiotics on the other hand come from our food — they are non-digestible components of food that nurture our gut bacteria, helping them thrive and grow. Prebiotic compounds such as fructooligosaccharides (found in garlic, onion and Jerusalem artichoke) and galactoligosacchrides (found in human and cow’s milk, and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans) can help keep your gut healthy, however in some people these foods will cause digestive complaints. In those instances, it can be an indication that you need more comprehensive digestive support. Foods rich in fibre are also a great food for our gut, as they are used by many species of bacteria as energy.
Taking probiotics can help restore balance in the gut, whilst having prebiotics will continue to maintain the balance — it’s for this reason that they are usually beneficial to have together.
How Probiotics Benefit The Skin
Different probiotics have different effects on the skin, by improving gut health and interacting with our immune system. You may see improvement on the external appearance of your skin by improving your internal environment.
Probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 has shown to reduce inflammation both in gut and skin conditions, helping to improve the appearance of Psoriasis. Different lactobacillus strains have shown to improve dry skin and wrinkles by improving skin hydration and reducing the loss of water, simultaneously reducing skin reactivity in those with sensitive skin. The use of prebiotics such as Lactoferrin has also shown to reduce sebum secretion and reduce breakouts in those with Acne.
As the benefits of good gut health start to get more attention, the beauty world has caught up. Products such as The Beauty Chef’s Glow Inner Beauty powder making a real splash in the market, reason being that the product features pre and probiotics designed to bring you healthy skin by supporting a healthy gut environment.
Your Path to Good Gut Health
The first step to good gut health is your diet.
Reduce inflammatory foods that disrupt the gut environment. This includes:
Caffeinated drinks (coffee and tea)
Processed and junk foods.
For some people, it may be necessary to reduce dairy and gluten too as it can increase skin inflammation in some.
Identify and remove food allergies / intolerance
Boost your prebiotic foods
Increase fibre rich foods
Drink plenty of clean filtered water
Keep your stress under control. High levels of stress can negatively affect the gut environment.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of probiotics can also be helpful for the skin, however to get the most benefit from probiotics it is best to select a probiotic under professional guidance for your specific case.