Probiotics for the skin

Using probiotics and prebiotics to keep your gut healthy has long been known to assist good bowel function and control metabolism. What is lesser known is that keeping bacteria in balance is just an important for skin health, writes Dr Iona Weir.

Over the years many products have claimed to give us clear and beautiful skin and have focused on getting rid of bacteria. In this process all bacteria are destroyed, including the good stuff, from our skin.

This means that clear skin doesn’t last long as bad bacteria quickly grow back again and replace the good.

Our skin, like the gut, has its own unique microflora (balance of good and bad bacteria). In order to reduce skin allergies, restore immune function and prevent infection that balance must be restored.

Lack of balance can be caused by a number of reasons including using too many cleansers and soaps. Instead of protecting against infection, this over-scrubbing results in damaging your own natural and unique protection.

That’s when the bad bacteria run wild, causing outbreaks of acne, inflammation,  redness or dry irritated skin.

This means not only should you exfoliate less and resist over cleansing, but also use a cream such as Atopis that contains a prebiotic and the peptides from probiotic bacteria, which work to promote good bacterial growth while inhibiting bad bacteria.

Too clean a house, hands and you open yourself and family to infections and allergies. You need bacteria in balance.

Prebiotics have different functions to probiotics 

Each person has their own unique microflora, gut and skin; this is directly inherited from your mother.

Earlier in my career, I was Chief Scientific Officer for the team that developed Phloe – a natural kiwifruit product that restores balance of bacteria in the gut to maintain bowel health.  It is now an international best-selling brand and a leader in its field.

Phloe, like Atopis, centred on the idea of prebiotics as the plant-based enzyme that helps nurture and provide a boost of probiotics, the live bacteria, and provides sustained balance.

Of course the use of probiotic supplements can help, but over time your body will no longer benefit as the microflora remains out of balance. As prebiotics support the growth of probiotics, use these with a probiotic. Then, once your gut microflora is restored, continue to take a prebiotic to keep the balance in place.

It is also important to remember probiotics can die in the capsule, or die on the way through the digestive tract. Always look for high-quality, high colony-forming unit probiotics. Probiotics that work are expensive as they have to be micro encapsulated to be protected from the digestive enzymes and acid in the stomach. This is why it’s so important to take probiotics after a meal too.

Gut microflora has been discovered to be central to preventing allergies including the skin, immune function and, when out of balance, result in eczema, rashes, hives and conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, and auto-immune disorders.

What has really surprised scientists is that there is now a confirmed link between gut microflora and schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and possibly ADHD and autism.

What’s clear is that our gut and skin health work in synergy.  Balance is the answer to beautifully clear and glowing skin.

What are probiotics and prebiotics?

Probiotics are live good bacteria, while prebiotics are specialised plant fibres that beneficially nourish the good bacteria. Prebiotics help your good bacteria grow, which improves the good-to-bad bacteria ratio.