If you came into my office and asked me how you could create healthier, younger-looking skin, one of the things I would ask you about is your intestinal health. You may wonder what the connection is and this is what I’d tell you.
Beautiful Skin Reflects A Healthy Gut – Probiotics Can Help
Your skin needs a lot of things to stay healthy and look its best. It needs adequate water to stay hydrated and prevent sagging, careful cleansing and moisturizing, some sun protection, a nutrient-rich diet, and adequate sleep. Dull, unhealthy looking skin makes you look much older.
What you may not know is that healthy, youthful-looking skin starts deep in your gut where vitamins are absorbed. Your skin needs vitamin A, the B vitamins, vitamins C and D as well as the minerals copper and zinc to be healthy and look great. If your gut’s ability to absorb these nutrients is impaired these critical skin vitamins cannot be absorbed properly. The strength of this nutrient absorption process depends on the amount of beneficial intestinal flora - or good bacteria – your gut has.
Intestinal conditions like constipation, diarrhea, leaky gut syndrome, and overgrowth of Candida bacteria weakens the strength of your intestinal flora. Restoring the proper intestinal flora through probiotics can rescue your gut health and, in turn, your skin health. Let me explain.
Your intestines are the center of your immune system. They house millions of beneficial bacteria that help your intestines function properly. When you indulge in too much junk food, particularly too much sugar or alcohol, are under a lot of stress, or took antibiotics for an infection, Candida bacteria can overgrow in the gut. This suppresses the good, Lactobacillus and bifido types of bacterial flora that supports good health. Also, just getting older can result in a decrease of these beneficial intestinal bacteria.
In addition, if you’re not consuming enough water or fiber, proper elimination function can decrease. Instead of all those toxins exiting your body through waste and urine, some get released into your blood stream.
Your skin, the largest organ of your body, also acts as a filter to help your liver and kidneys remove unwanted toxins. Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, acne, sagging, dryness, premature lines, inflammation, rashes, poor color and tone can all become aggravated as your skin tries to release unnecessary toxins.
How To Use Probiotics For Good Skin Health
You may now understand how the health of your skin reflects your intestinal wellbeing. To that end, I frequently counsel my patients on the right foods and supplements that will help their skin stay healthy. There are several delicious foods that contain probiotics, as well as individual supplements, to help ensure that your intestinal flora stays working correctly.
- Yogurt, Kefir, Buttermilk. These are dairy products that contain beneficial lactobacillus and/or bifido bacteria. Look for brands that say, “Contains active cultures.” Even most lactose intolerant people can eat yogurt, kefir and buttermilk as the cultures have digested the lactose in these foods. Try with small amounts to see how you’ll react.
- Fermented foods. Kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, natto, sourdough bread, tempeh, all help build intestinal flora.
- Probiotic supplements. There are many brands of probiotic supplements on the market. Look for a good pharmaceutical grade probiotic that contains about 1.50 billion live CFU’s – colony forming units. I know that amount may sound excessive, but your body naturally, in a healthy state, contains at least this many, and more.
The adage, “you are what you eat” couldn’t be more true when it comes to the health of your skin. Remember to feed your body with the best, nutrient rich diet and/or supplements, limit sugar and alcohol, to ensure maintaining the best intestinal health. The pay off will come in a beautiful, healthy, youthful-looking skin that you can be proud of for many years.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Natural Health News
How Fermented Foods Aid Digestion, http://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health/how-fermented-foods-aid-digestion.aspx
Probiotics and Skin, http://www.dermaharmony.com/skinnutrition/probiotics.aspx