By Betsy Bartlett, nutraMetrix Research Coordinator

As our understanding of the human microbiome grows, we deepen our appreciation of how individualized and complex each person’s microbial environment is. Given that the gastrointestinal tract houses the largest reservoir of commensal bacteria and acts as the body’s largest immune organ, a significant body of scientific research evaluates the influence of probiotics on many areas of an individual’s health.  The World Health Organization defines probiotics as living microorganisms which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health effect on the host. Probiotics are most commonly formulated as fermentation products and can be found in fermented vegetables, milk, and meat. Emerging insights into the interactions between probiotics and host receptors have demonstrated the ability of probiotics to support a healthy immune system, promote healthy digestion as well as bowl regularity, but research also shows probiotics support skin health as well.

Certain strains of these microorganisms have been shown to support skin health and affect skin hydration and trans-epidermal water loss.  Lactobacillus paracasei, which is genotypically and phenotypically indistinguishable from other members of its genus such as Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, is one such strain. The fact that some strains support healthy skin as well as healthy immune systems is of particular interest due to the environmental factors that most of us encounter in our daily lives that affect our overall health. Examples include, washing with detergents, exposure to sunlight, pollutants, air conditioning, low humidity, stress and dietary deficiencies.

The relationship between probiotics and the gastrointestinal tract supports the metabolic responses necessary to support skin health. Although we are only skimming the surface of how beneficial probiotics can be to our general wellbeing, studies suggest that oral probiotics may help support the health of our skin as well as supporting the health of our immune system by minimizing certain environmental stressors.

If you do not incorporate fermented foods into your diet on a regular basis, supplementation could be a viable option. A one-size-fits-all approach is very unlikely to achieve optimal results when it comes to altering an individual’s microbiome. When looking for a probiotic product to add to your daily routine, look for one that offers multiple strains to support numerous areas of health.

1International Journal of Women’s Dermatology; Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2015, Pages 85-89

2 Immune modulation property of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC2461 (ST11) strain and impact on skin defenses Beneficial Microbes: 5 (2) – Pages: 129 – 136

3 Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effect of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC 2461 on skin reactivity. Beneficial Microbes, 2014; 5(2): 137-145.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.