Many people typically only think of their skin as it relates to beauty—but our skin’s health is essential to our overall health. After all, it’s the largest organ in the body and the major interface between us and the outside world. Our skin health can be affected by both the gut and skin microbiome – which are home to a vast array of microbes.
What’s A Microbiome?
The skin microbiome, or skin flora, is the term used for the trillions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses – that live on our skin. There are 1,000 different bacteria species and almost 80 different types of fungi species. Some of these species even reside in your gut flora.
The skin microbiome changes depending on the location on your body or “eco-niche.” Each species has a preference for the amount of light they can be exposed to and whether the skin is dry, oily, moist, or hairy – so every “eco-niche” has distinct communities of microbes. Also, depending on if you are older or younger, and depending on your gender, certain microbiome species may prefer to live on your skin. For example, a sweaty adolescent male versus, an older postmenopausal female will have very different microbiomes.
The human digestive tract contains a delicate balance of microorganisms called the gut microbiome. The balance of gut microbiomes includes friendly bacteria that help regulate harmful bacteria, parasites, or an overgrowth of candida.” – From the best-selling book Clean Skin From Within, by Dr. Trevor Cates
Besides the obvious health implications, your skin and gut microbiome’s health should matter to you because healthy and balanced microbiomes will directly impact how your skin looks. Simply put, as we age, toxins, stress, infections, poor dietary choices, and certain medications can negatively affect the gut microbiome.
How does skin microbiome play a role in our health?
Influence Immune System – When we are children, our microbiota have protective influence on the immune system and keep it from under or over reacting. On the other hand, inadequate development or imbalance of the microbiome is known to affect the skin’s immune response in a way that causes children to be more susceptible to a number of immune conditions, including eczema and recurring skin infections. And this trend can continue into adulthood, if the underlying issues are not addressed.
Protect Against Infection – Healthy skin microbiota can protect against infection by overcrowding the pathogenic (harmful) species. Our skin prefers a relatively acidic environment, a pH around 5.0, which allows the perfect environment to protect against pathogenic species.
Reduce Inflammation – When the skin microbiota is not in balance, the immune system will respond by releasing agents to protect the body. This triggers inflammation and may weaken skin barrier protection. A healthy microbiome has the opposite effect by keeping the release of inflammatory compounds from the immune system more balanced.
Protection From The Environmental – The skin microbiota is an important component of the natural barrier function of the skin. It helps protect our body from the outside environment, including UV rays as well as toxic and pathogenic substances. When the skin microbiota is compromised, the skin is more susceptible to damage.
HOW TO ENHANCE YOUR MICROBIOME
Via The Gut:
- Eat probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled produce, yogurt, and kefir along with prebiotic foods like dandelion greens, garlic, onions, leeks, and chicory
- Take a high-quality probiotic supplement daily
- Cut back on excess carbohydrates and sugars
Via The Skin:
- Support the proper pH on your skin by using high-quality, natural skincare products
- Use pure, natural Argan oil and other natural ingredients that help regulate the skin’s acid mantle and impart luminosity, softness, and moisture to your skin.
There is no magic bullet when it comes to restoring and maintaining a healthy gut and skin microbiome. The good news is that with a few simple changes to your lifestyle you can change you can achieve better health and gorgeous, glowing skin.” – From the best-selling book Clean Skin From Within, by Dr. Trevor Cates
Would you like to learn more about the importance of the skin microbiome? Then, take a moment to watch three of my favorite, very insightful microbiome interviews on The Spa Dr.® podcast: