It seems like these days one of the trendiest topics in skin care is probiotics and their counterpart, prebiotics. There are so many questions out there on these two. What are they? Are they the same? Are topical probiotics the best for skin care, or should you eat them? In this blog post, I’m going to break down the wild world of bacteria and make it easier to “digest.” Get it? Digest? Probiotic? Anyway, moving on.
We are taught at an early age that bacteria are bad for us. If you are my age, a scrapped knee meant the dreaded “mercurochrome” was brought out to disinfect the scrape and kill the bacteria. We know now that there are many types of bacteria. While “the bad kind” will cause infection, today I’m going to be talking about “the good kind” – probiotics.
Probiotics defined is “a microorganism (such as Lactobacillus) that maintain or restores beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract”. Basically, it is a live organism that lives in your gut. As the saying goes, “Good health begins in the gut.” Research has shown that everything, from immunity to skin care health begins with a healthy gut. Probiotics, or as they are sometimes marketed, “live cultures” are absolutely beneficial to make your gut happy, but what makes probiotics happy? That would be their pals, prebiotics.
Prebiotics defined are “special plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in the gut”. So basically, prebiotics feed probiotics and keeps them healthy and able to do their job. Now that we have the basic understanding down, let’s move on to how they affect your skin.
How do probiotics affect your skin’s health?
The tried and true method of getting the probiotics that our bodies need is by ingesting them. Historically, if someone wanted to increase their probiotic intake, they would either eat probiotic-rich whole food, or take a supplement. Companies have started adding probiotics to their skincare formulations however, at this time, the verdict is still whether or not this is scientifically beneficial to the skin. Until then, we recommend sticking with science and getting your probiotics for beautiful skin the old-fashioned way – by ingesting them.
Probiotics have scientifically proven benefits when ingested
Internally taken, probiotics are a dynamo when it comes to skin health. Some of its benefits include:
- Prevents Wrinkles – in the gut they act as a catalyst to flush out free radicals and toxins that damage skin and cause wrinkles.
- Strengthens Skin Barrier – they have the ability to strengthen weakened skin cells, (from free radicals or toxins), prevent trans epidermal water loss or TEWL and speed up the cell repair process.
- Fights Acne – they help restore the balance of good bacteria and suppresses acne causing or “bad” bacteria.
- Reduces Inflammation – by preventing growth of yeast and inflammatory “bad bacteria”.
- Anti-Aging – they may help as a shield against UV rays and free radicals.
Probiotics can be taken in supplement form, but the best way to take them is as whole food. Some foods that are natural probiotics are:
- Fresh sour dill pickles
Now I know that some of you may not be thrilled at the thought of dinking Kombucha or eating Kimchi, so for you a probiotic supplement may be your best bet. Here are a few things to consider when looking for a probiotic supplement:
- The brand has a high CFU (colony forming unit) count of at least 40-75 billion per serving.
- There are at least 15 strains of bacteria in the formulation.
- The formulation contains a GMO-free prebiotic.
- The probiotic is contained in a plant based, delayed released capsule. (This will ensure that the bacteria strains will survive and not be destroyed by stomach acid).
The jury is still out when it comes to Topical Probiotics
There has been a lot of talk lately about probiotics in skin care formulations. Although I could not find any scientific studies that support the benefits, some skin care companies are claiming that probiotics in skin care will kill germs, or “bad bacteria”, found on the skin’s surface, allowing the skin to properly regenerate. In theory, it sounds plausible, but until there is research showing the benefits of topical probiotics, I’ll stick with whole food or supplements. Needless to say, there is a lot of information out there, so make sure you do your research before making your decision.
I hope you enjoyed learning about prebiotics, probiotics and how they can contribute to healthy, beautiful skin! Keep in mind though, a consistent skincare routine and quality skincare products are two of the most important factors for healthy, beautiful skin.