Every time a zit pops up, you might reach for an anti-bacterial face wash or spot corrector. But research shows that most acne conditions are a result of bacteria, specifically P. acnes, that get into your pores and wreak havoc on your skin.
Can healthy gut bacteria be the solution to acne?
Today, probiotics are making inroads in everything from your food and probiotic supplements to skincare and beauty products. The first thing to know is that not all bacteria is bad for your health. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that offer a host of benefits to your health. Most people know that probiotics are great for the digestive system, but these organisms can also help combat environmental damage, boost your immune system, support your metabolism (as you know, metabolism and weight loss go hand in hand), and in conjunction with a healthy diet can also give your skin that clear, radiant glow.
Probiotics for Acne: Not a New Idea
In 1930, researchers John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury studied the connection between anxiety, depression and other emotional issues, and skin conditions—like acne. In 1961, the research concluded that out of a sample set of 300 acne patients, 80% showed clinical improvement after using probiotics. More recently, a 2010-study in Nutrition Journal showed that fermented Lactobacilli bacteria caused fewer instances of acne and oily secretions in users. The most widely-researched probiotic strains in regard to the treatment of acne are Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus thermophilus, Enterococcus faecalis, and Bifidobacterium longum.
Connection Between Gut Health and Skin Health
When the gut microbiome is imbalanced (also known as gut dysbiosis), your immune system suffers, and this causes skin inflammations like acne, eczema, and rosacea. In fact, eczema was our CEO and Co-Founder, Ashley’s, final signal that something was off in the health of her first child and herself after he was born—leading her down the path of discovering the enormous importance of gut health.
Your microbiome can become imbalanced due to one or more of the following factors:
- poor diet (processed foods, sugars, alcohol, low fiber, and GMO’s)
- antibiotics and other prescription drugs
- stress, chemicals, and environmental toxins
Additionally, harsh skin cleansers and topical products can disrupt the microbiome living on top of your skin— ultimately causing more breakouts. So, if you want your skin to look and feel healthy, you need to address what is causing the skin issues in the first place. Spoiler alert: a balanced microbiome is key.
Your gastric system and the skin are both involved in the process of detoxifying your body. There are trillions of bacteria living inside your body and on your skin. These bacteria form your microbiome. The gut contains the largest number of bacteria in the body. This microbiota is made up of many different species of bacteria, particularly, strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. The ideal balance that should be maintained in your gut is 85% good and 15% bad. However, this balance is precarious and is thrown out of balance due to environmental factors, illnesses, unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, stress, use of antibiotics, and aging. Probiotic supplements help repair this imbalance so your body can function at its prime.
If you want to correct your skin’s appearance, focusing on your gut health is an ideal place to begin. Healthy gut flora ensures that the food you eat is broken down easily, the nutrients are absorbed, and toxins are eliminated. This will keep inflammations at a minimum and avoid acne and other skin problems.
How to Use Probiotics to Combat Acne
Probiotics can be used in two ways to treat acne—in the form of probiotic-rich topically-applied products such as masks, cleansers, and creams, and holistic probiotic supplements. Topical probiotics help by creating a protective shield on your skin, calming skin cells to avoid inflammations, and killing bad bacteria. However, these topical treatments will give you no internal benefits, and as we’ve already discussed, probiotic supplements work from the inside out, so you can enjoy improved digestive health, mental clarity, and the benefits of healthier skin.
Some food items contain probiotics, like yogurt, fermented milk drinks, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso soup. Commercially available probiotic foods generally include information about the particular strains they contain. However, the minimum number of recommended probiotic live cultures you should consume is over one billion CFUs (colony-forming units). It is unlikely that you will meet this requirement with food items, as the strains need to make it past the stomach acid barrier to your lower GI tract, which is where your microbiome lives. If you want to make sure that your body gets the right amount of the right type of probiotic strains, your best bet is a good quality probiotic for acne.
Digestion is impeded by a number of offenders from stress and lack of sleep, to consumption of processed foods with little to no fiber content. As your digestive process suffers, the good bacteria in your gut diminish, which leads to a leaky gut lining. Toxins pass through this weakened lining and enter the bloodstream and cause inflammations and skin flares. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), in order to effectively work the gut-brain-skin axis, it is important to supplement your overall health with high-quality probiotics, find ways to reduce or manage stress, and fill your diet with high fiber foods (read: a wide variety of fruits and vegetables) that aid in digestion.
Eating more antioxidant-rich foods is another step in the right direction to healthier skin, because of their ability to fight free radicals. According to the International Dermal Institute, oxygen free radicals are implicated in the overall aging process and are responsible for photoaging, cancer, and inflammation in the skin. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin, squash, and grapes contain powerful antioxidants that can be great tools in your skin’s anti-aging arsenal. The most effective way to improve your skin and overall health is through diet.
In addition to removing toxins like GMO’s, sugars, antibiotics, and processed foods from your diet, probiotics can reinforce the gut lining and help defend against any toxin leakage—as well as potential skin inflammations. The final result is a healthy gut and glowing skin.
The Best Probiotics for Acne
While looking for effective probiotic supplements for healthy skin, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Ensure that the supplement contains at least one billion CFUs per dose. Find a supplement with an effective delivery system. Stomach acids kill most live organisms before they even get a chance to reach your intestines and boost your health and immunity. In fact, most capsules and other forms allow only 4% of the bacteria to actually reach the target site—your digestive tract.
LoveBug’s probiotic supplements contain multiple strains of quality probiotics, and each dose packs a powerful punch with 10 billion live cultures. Contained in a tablet, the good bugs are released into your system slowly over an 8-10 hour period. LoveBug’s trademark BIO-tract technology ensures that a whopping 60% of the organisms reach the target site alive and ready to get to work, giving these tablets 15 times more survivability than standard capsules on the market.
Remember, if you experience unexplained skin sensitivity or skin disorders like acne vulgaris (the medical name for the most common type of acne), cystic acne, eczema, and others, it’s your body sending out a distress signal to let you know that something is wrong on the inside. You should look to your diet and remove foods that are harmful to your gut and consider adding a probiotic supplement to your daily diet to increase your levels of beneficial bacteria.