Our human body is inhabited with trillions of liiving organisms. Together, they live in symbiosis with our human cells, forming the human microbiome (human genome and microbial genome). We are actually made up of our human genome and bacterial genome in our body. It affects how we react to our environment as a whole. These microbes are found on our skin, nose and throat, lungs, stomach, vagina and with the majority residing in the gut.
Birth delivery process, feeding method, age, diet, use of antibiotics, geography, stress level can determine our gut microbiome from birth. Diet, in particular, can change the types of flora in your body throughout your life. Our gut microflora develop and mature extensively till age 3. After which, our gut microbiome is more or less stable until adult life.
Healthy individuals have a balanced microbiota with a high diversity of bacteria and microbes in their gut. This means that they have a mixture of different types of bacteria with different shapes, sizes, function, and names. However, when only a small diversity of bacteria is present, meaning that only a few types of bacteria exist in the gut, in higher numbers than normal, disease may occur.
Infancy and early childhood has been identified as the vulnerable periods in the development of gut microbiome which shapes them in their constitution to skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis (AD/Eczema) because of their undeveloped immune system.
Eczema (or the most commonly known as atopic dermatitis) is a condition in which the skin is dry and itchy with red and scaly lesions. These lesions often cause cracks in skin’s outermost barrier and in turn expose patients to infection. While eczema can be linked to genetics, stress and environment. The immune system plays a big role in the onset and progression of eczema. It is always accompanied by inflammation that is resulted from an overreaction of the immune system towards allergens.
Research has shown that our gut microbiome can affect our organs located distantly. In this blog post, we are focusing on how our gut microbiota can affect our skin - termed gut-skin axis.
The different microbes in different regions of our body serves different functions.
Gut microbiome (the central epitome of our immune system) has important roles in:
- Protection against harmful pathogens by destroying them directly.
- Host nutrient absorption and metabolism that has a direct impact on the skin or stimulate hormonal changes that can affect the skin.
- The release of metabolites can affect the skin located distantly.
- Maintenance of structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier that prevents the invasion of pathogens. Lack of certain microbes can result in an increase in the permeability of the intestine with subsequent leakage of pathogens into the bloodstream and skin resulting in systemic or cutaneous inflammation (leaky gut).
- Protection against inflammatory disorders and aids in development of the immune system, keeping the immunity response in check.
- Facilitating the immune system to recognise harmful versus non-harmful molecules eg, allergens for individuals with eczema (immune tolerance).
- Breaking down complex polysaccharides in food and the production of short-chain fatty acids which has a role in determining the microbial composition on the skin, and prevent inflammatory disorders and allergy.
By ensuring your gut microbiome is flourishing with the wide diversity and right amount of microbes, our gut is then able to function optimally.
Gut and skin develop from the same cells during embryo stage. They are both exposed to our external environment. They serve as a physical barrier and are the first line of defence whenever a pathogen invades as they are packed with white blood cells. Our skin contains up to over 1000 species of microbes that has adapted to live in a nutrient-sparse environment. In a healthy individual, many of these skin microbes have the ability to produce substances that can inhibit the colonization of undesirable microbes or alter their own behaviour, break down natural substances. Skin microorganisms have important roles in educating the overall immunity of our skin.
Individuals with eczema and acne has been found with lower colonic and skin microbial diversity as well as altered levels of certain strains of microbes (dysbiosis). Reversion to dysbiosis serves as a potential treatment.
Over the years, eczema and acne has been recognized as autoimmune disorders with inflammation. Autoimmune disorders sit in the gut and result from damage to the gut microbiome.
Logically, simplest way to treat eczema and acne is by treating the gut itself first. This means feeding the microbiome the right stuff to keep it healthy and balanced – Probiotics, in other words.
Milk kefir, unlike probiotics made in the lab, have evolved to survive under harsh environment to combat pathogens. They contain over 30 to 50 strains of live beneficial bacteria and yeast that has the ability to colonize and regenerate your entire gut ecosystem. Having only a few variety of beneficial bacteria and microbes in your gut and on your skin is not sufficient to bring you a healthful life and beautiful skin that you desire.
A new study finds that milk proteins are extensively broken down during kefir fermentation, producing 609 peptides unique to kefir and changing the abundance of more than 1,500 peptides. Casein, a milk protein, that causes allergic reactions in eczema or milk allergy individuals can be broken down during the fermentation process.
“ I feel The Grain Factory milk kefir is helping a lot! He’s been taking milk kefir daily for 2 weeks plus and i see tremendous improvements to his skin. So so happy” -- Ms Quinn, Mom to a child with Eczema
Not only can we consume milk kefir, we can apply milk kefir topically on our affected skin area. Topically application of milk kefir can protect, calm and equilize.
Protection from bacterial interference - Milk kefir can protect our skin by forming a barrier to prevent our skin from meeting bad bacteria and combating these pathogens which can ellict an inflammatory response that can have undesirable effects if our gut is not optimal.
Calming effect - Probiotics in milk kefir can secrete antimicrobial peptides and can prevent inflammation or resolve inflammation efficiently. Probiotics can also prevent wrinkles and premature ageing because of its calming of inflammation properties.
Equilize and Regenerate - Topical application of a quality probiotic source like milk kefir can create an equilibrium of the good microflora on the skin surface, thereby improving the skin’s barrier and protective mechanisms which is essential for eczema and acne with broken skin. These good bacteria can also produce healthy signals that can prevent our skin from sending signals to evoke an inflammatory response.
While applying just milk kefir is good for eczema and acne-prone skin, we are also sharing a simple face mask recipe specially targeted for acne.
- 1 Teaspoon of The Grain Factory Organic Milk Kefir (original)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Organic Matcha powder
- A drop of lemon essential oil (to be used at night only as lemon essential oil is light-sensitive)
Leave them on for 20 to 30 minutes before washing them off.
'The problems in your gut are mapped onto your skin. Creams alone will never work because you have to heal your gut first'.