What Are Probiotics?
Many people have heard the term ‘probiotics’ but what exactly does it mean?
Probiotics working in conjunction with prebiotics to add ‘friendly’ bacteria to the body’s digestive system.
Prebiotics can best be described as a source of fuel for probiotics.
Together pre and probiotics help to keep your gut flora healthy by improving the balance of bacteria in your stomach.
Probiotics And Skin Health
If we want to achieve healthy, clear skin one of the most important things to consider is diet.
Healthy skin comes from within so we need to think about following a pure, natural diet, eating plenty of foods from natural sources and avoiding those that contain sugars, unhealthy fats and chemical additives.
You can make healthy changes to your diet, swallow a load of skin supplements and flush your system thoroughly by drinking water all you like but if your digestive system isn’t functioning at an optimal level then you may still experience skin problems as the gut becomes unable to provide the rest of the body with the nutrients it needs.
Your digestive system needs a steady, regular supply of beneficial bacteria to assist the breakdown of the foods you eat. This in turn helps the delivery of essential vitamins and minerals to other parts of the body including your skin.
Conditions such as Candida Albicans and irritable bowel syndrome can occur when gut health is compromised and it is no surprise that both of these conditions are associated with poor skin.
Poor gut health hinders the digestive system and may cause our skin to suffer. This is why probiotics and skin health go hand in hand.
Probiotics For Skin
If you want to add probiotics to your diet to improve you skin look out for supplements or products containing:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus (sometimes referred to as L. acidophilus)
- B. bifidum
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
You can find probiotics in:
- Specially formulated nutritional supplements/powders
- Live yoghurt
- Probiotic yoghurt drinks
- Some soy beverages
1) Research the product and any claims made for it. Some probiotic supplements and products are of higher quality than others. Check that the product also contains prebiotics as these work in conjunction with probiotics.
2) The dose of probiotic in your chosen product needs to be high enough to be of benefit to your health.
Experts recommend that a dose should provide at least 10 million live micro- organisms. Check the number and strain of live microorganisms on the product’s label.
3) Live yoghurt is a great addition to a healthy diet however probiotic drinks and supplements may deliver a higher dose of the friendly bacteria your body needs.
4) Consume drinking yoghurts before their expiry date as they can lose their potency and will therefore become ineffective. Also check the sugar content of probiotic drinking products. More than10g of sugar for every 100g is high.
5) Be patient and consistent. Probiotics should be taken every day over a period of months for maximum effect. Positive results are unlikely to be instant.
Probiotics In Skin Care
Probiotics are not just something we can take internally to improve the condition of our skin.
The beauty industry has discovered that probiotics, together with prebiotics, may help to improve the balance of bacteria in the skin when applied topically.
Probiotic skin cream has become popular in recent years due to various claims made.
So how can probiotics help when applied directly to the skin?
Like the gut, skin contains beneficial bacteria and in a similar way healthy skin bacterium can become compromised.
This can lead to skin complaints, such as eczema and acne, often as a result of using harsh skincare products.
Probiotic skin products may help to address this imbalance.
Probiotics For Acne And Eczema
Skin probiotics and prebiotics in beauty products may help to restore the balance of good bacteria. A 2008 study by The British Journal of Dermatology suggested they can be particularly useful in reducing the itching associate with eczema.
A later study in 2009 by the Journal of Dermatological Science found that prebiotics in skin care could help reduce levels of acne-causing bacteria without affecting good bacteria.
Probiotics And Anti-Aging Skincare
In addition to the role of pre and probiotics in targeting common skin complaints, some skincare brands believe that probiotic skin creams could also have anti-aging properties.
They argue that when the skin’s healthy microflora is compromised skin can become irritated.
This causes the body to react by creating the harmful free radicals that attack collagen.
As collagen is essential for younger-looking skin anything that destroys it could lead to premature aging of the skin.
Other brands claim that probiotic technology in skin care works on skin at the dermal and sub-dermal levels, reducing cellular damage and activating cellular renewal.
Another claim made is that probiotics stimulate the skin’s natural repair defenses, preventing collagen damage whilst also hydrating the skin – providing a multi-targeted approach to skin care.
Further to this some skin care companies are focusing on creating probiotic skin supplements, with one well-known brand looking into how probiotics taken internally can help those with sensitive skin.
Beautiful Skin Comes From Within
It’s obvious that more research is needed to test the theories behind the role of pre and probiotics in skin care but results so far have been promising. However it is widely accepted that gut health can play an important role in the condition of our skin.
If we can take steps to improve our digestive system by regularly including probiotic foods in our diet or by taking probiotic supplements we may very well be rewarded with healthy and glowing skin.