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Whether it is acne or eczema, most skin disorders have one thing in common: inflammation. Inflammation can be triggered in one area of the body and show up somewhere else. So far, research tells us that this phenomenon has to do with two factors.
As it turns out, the microorganisms on the skin play a more important role in the body’s inflammatory signaling than we ever expected.
In the early 1930s, two dermatologists named John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury put forth the idea that poor gut ecology may cause things like anxiety, depression, and acne.
In their research, Stokes and Pillsbury found a direct relationship between the health of the gut and the health of the skin. 1 This is known as the gut-skin axis. 2 They developed a protocol that involved the administration of lactobacillus-rich milk and saw much success. 1
Almost one hundred years later, scientists have found that the work of Stokes and Pillsbury is worth resurrecting. 3 In fact, researchers recently found that skin bacteria can influence the immune system to the same degree as gut bacteria.
According to the gut-skin axis, the digestive tract and the skin have a cross-directional relationship that allows one to affect the other. This happens by way of the immune system. This means the ecology of skin and the microorganisms residing there can trigger a systemic immune response in the body as much as the microbes living in the gastrointestinal tract! 4
Did you know that your body has more bacteria than human cells? In fact, the bacteria in the body outnumber human cells 10 to 1! 5 And many of these microbes are found in the gastrointestinal tract.
Because gut bacteria have evolved with us through time, they play a prominent role in our health and wellbeing. Some researchers have even referred to the entire microbial community as a “forgotten organ.” 6 Many bacteria protect and nourish the body, while at the same time the human body protects and nourishes bacteria.
When it comes to skin disorders, gut ecology matters! This is because bacteria and yeast can grow unchecked, dominating their habitat. This can irritate the gut and lead to a permeable gut lining, or what is known as leaky gut. Once the lining of the gut becomes permeable, toxins from bacteria or large food particles can ignite a systemic inflammatory response.
The best way to support your overall wellbeing and your immune system is to focus on a healthy inner ecology. This means choosing a diet that is full of fermented foods.
It is essential to eat fermented foods each and every day. These foods are full of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, that go straight to the gut. The beneficial bacteria available in these foods have been found to support the body beyond digestion. This means that multiple systems benefit, including the skin.
Because the microbes found on the skin are just as valuable to the immune system as those lining the walls of the digestive tract, it is important to also nourish a healthy microbial community on the skin itself.
In fact, several studies have shown that topical probiotics reduce the number of lesions and the amount of inflammation associated with severe acne. 10, 11 Beneficial bacteria applied to the skin effectively addresses dandruff, otherwise known as seborrheic dermatitis or cradle cap in infants.12, 13
A few ounces a day of coconut water kefir or a probiotic beverage will help restore the balance of your inner ecosystem. Many of our Body Ecology community members incorporate these into their favorite face mask or face wash.
Remember, if you suffer from a skin disorder, in addition to harmonizing gut ecology, it is essential to nourish skin ecology. Your immune system will thank you!
Most mild to severe skin disorders, ranging from acne to eczema, are triggered by inflammation. This systemic inflammation is related to the health of the immune system and the microorganisms that live throughout the body.
When it comes to treating skin disorders, gut ecology is critical. Bacteria and yeast can easily dominate and irritate the gut to cause a permeable gut lining, leading to a full body inflammatory response. The gut-skin axis indicates that cross-talk occurs between the gut and the skin; skin bacteria can influence the immune system just as much as gut bacteria!
Since microbes found on the skin are just as vital to your immune health as microbes in the digestive tract, topical probiotics can be used to reduce inflammation associated with severe acne. Beneficial bacteria applied topically can also treat conditions like dandruff, otherwise known as cradle cap in infants.
If you suffer from a skin disorder, it's time to nourish your skin ecology, as well as your gut ecology. Start with a few ounces a day of coconut water kefir or a probiotic beverage to boost your inner ecosystem or add a few drops to your face wash to alleviate a number of chronic skin issues!
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