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Why you need to “Mind you Microbes” for healthy skin

Why you need to “Mind you Microbes” for healthy skin

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and is our first line of defence against the outside world.

There are millions of bacteria on our skin, and as clean and shiny as you all are here today reading this blog, you are covered in lots and lots of different kinds of bacteria – you have been since birth when you were coated in your mothers microbes.

The bacteria on our skin are like our defence force guarding and protecting us against invaders. So, our skin bacteria are like a second skin or like a coat protecting us from infection and disease. If we are under threat our skin bacteria can produce small proteins that are like natural antibiotics and kill bad bacteria.

These small proteins are called bacteriocins and some bacteria on our bodies produce bacteriocins. A bacteriocin is like an antibiotic produced by our own good bacteria to prevent attack by invaders which are bad bacteria- they are like our superhero shields.

Bacteriocin production has been proposed as a probiotic trait: sounds like a good thing ya? So, I’ m sure we’ve all heard about probiotics and prebiotics but what exactly are they? The World Health Organization's (WHO) in 2001 defined probiotics as live micro-organisms that, "...when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host while prebiotics are “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”- so probiotics are good bacteria that can help us while prebiotics are food fibres to feed our good bacteria.

Bacteriocins may act as colonizing peptides, helping the bacteria that’s making it become established in a niche. They may function as killing proteins killing off competitors, or they may serve as signalling peptides – by signalling to other bacteria or the immune system.

We all have had a spot or 2 or 3 or more on our faces and bodies at some stage am I right? Some of us are affected more than others and scientists are thinking this may be as a result of inflammation or imbalance in our guts bacteria. But how can that be? If there’s a problem in our gut, it’s in our gut and not our skin? Science researchers are thinking there may in fact be a skin-gut axis.

In some cases when we eat too much sugary and fatty foods our intestines become overloaded- it can’t cope- so we get this thing called a leaky gut where oily stuff leaks out into our blood stream and makes its way to skin surface creating a spot or spots

At the same time the microbes you harbour can make your skin smooth and your hair shiny; they may even put a spring in your step. A study in Boston, found that after feeding mice a probiotic microbe originally isolated from human breast milk, it was noticed that animals grew unusually lustrous fur, thick skin bristling with active follicles, elevated testosterone levels and they had a ‘glow of health.

Microbes had transformed these animals into rodent heartthrobs!

In other words, what’s on the inside shows on the outside and vice versa so beauty isn’t only skin deep, it’s gut deep.

It is clear there is a communication cross talk between skin microbes and our guts microbes.

Feel the palm of your hand. Now feel your face. There is a difference isn't there? Different areas of our skin have a different pH, can be oily or dry with even slight variations in temperature. As a result of these different environments there is a huge diversity of bacteria on our skin.

Hopefully now you can see how important our skin bacteria are, how much we rely on them and how they really are our ‘next of skin’… so MIND YOUR MICROBES!

Julie O’Sullivan