Protobiotics and Probiome. How our skin is similar to our gut!
Our skin is more similar to our gut than most people care to admit when it comes to bacteria. Often when I start talking about bacteria in our intestines and the relationship to our skin, many people cover their ears and scream TMI TMI (which translates to Too Much Information). I do not do it to evoke visceral reactions, but to make a point.
I was recently talking to a group of people about a couple of different subjects about the skin. One was about the probiome on our skin and the other about the importance of mineral balanced hydration. This article is about our skin’s probiome ECO system and the article on hydration will come soon.
It seems like most of us understand how probiotics work to help digest food. Not many understand the relationship to our skin. In fact, the Microbiome Project at National Institutes of Health near Washington DC is changing the way we look at the skin every day. It is sort of like waking up every morning knowing that you are rewriting text books. Then in the afternoon all the doctors blast the findings, yet they really do not know, because it is all new.
A Probiome is a tech phrase for rebuilding and restructuring an ECO system. Our skin’s ECO system is comprised of about ten times more bacterial than skin cells. The disruption of this ECO system bring imbalance and can foster growth of attacking bacteria than can actually be deadly in some very rare cases.
I talked about the subject in my book, Chemical-Free Skin Health and in this blog article about a young man whose skin ECO System was so compromised by what we now know was from chemicals in his life. You can read about it here. http://www.cleangreencafe.com/CGC/?p=1262
Before jumping into my concerns for our skin’s health, it might be easier to use the analogy to how our gut functions and the importance of bacteria. Basically, most of us take a probiotic to improve our digestion and food assimilation process. There are a few people that question this need, but they are either uninformed or lead unbelievably clean raw food diets. Simply, the bacteria in our digestive system works symbiotically with our intestines to convert food into usable fuel for our bodies. When the colony is reduced or compromised, we suffer digestive problems, bloat and discomfort. For some it is extremely painful when their intestinal flora drops below tolerable levels.
Many wonder why we need probiotics even if they eat organic foods and watch their diets for what to intake and what not. The answer is simple that we ingest so many chemicals designed to kill bacteria that the level of bacteria we need in our gut must be supported and fortified.
Think you are not ingesting chemicals? Think again.
The chemicals we ingest that have a negative effect on the bacteria in our gut ranges from the water we drink to the foods we eat all the way to our personal hygiene products. For example, if you drink tap water that is chlorinated you reduce the amount of bacteria in your gut. If you eat foods whose packaging has been treated with Triclosan (like cheese wrappers) you are killing the bacteria in your gut. If you eat canned food that is lined with BPA based plastic, you are killing the bacteria in your gut. If you brush your teeth with conventional toothpaste that contains SLS and/or parabens, you are placing your bacteria in the gut in a world or hurt. Now here is a wild one, if you handle those thermal receipts that you get at a restaurant or the grocery store, they have some of the highest levels of BPA. Finally, if you take some medications for different gut disorders, you are probably knocking down your digestive bacteria level by a significant amount.
The skin is even more susceptible….
Remember we have ten times more bacteria on our skin than skin cells. These bacteria are mostly harmless and work with the skin to protect us from parasites, UV and even airborne chemicals. They work to reduce fungus and even bad guys like staph and MRSA. The problem is when we disrupt the balance on the skin. Chemicals that we come in contact with daily both intentionally and unintentionally can and do begin to alter the balance of good bacteria on our skin. Go too far and we see disorders like eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis begin to flare. Many of these conditions are diagnosed as these disorders when they are actually chemical burn, irritation and often mimic disorders to a point where prescriptions might be wrongly given.
So imagine what happens when you wash your hands with an antibacterial detergent. It kills 99%+ of the bacteria on your skin. Good and bad! Imagine if you use 15, 20 or even 40 products a day that all of which have 0.5% parabens as a preservative. The 0.5% is probably not too harmful, but multiply that level by 20 different products and you now have 10% paraben levels on your skin accumulating with daily or multiple daily uses. I hope you get the picture.
A big part of the problem is that we do not always know when we are being exposed. Not all manufacturers are in integrity, while other exposures are innocent. I was in a restaurant and put my forearms on the table while reading the menu. The table was wet, but I did not pay attention. My arms began to burn and I realized that the liquid on the table was a disinfectant. When I asked what it was, they brought me a spray bottle. There was no real ingredient list. It did say bleach and that it killed 99.9% of germs. I washed my arms off with water, but they were definitely burned and I developed a dry rash that literally took a week for it to disappear. What remained were some small dry patches that still remain today a few months later.
Products like our Reflex, Omni and AguaVit are probiome’s. Said, they will help only if the agents that are killing the bacteria are removed from the equation. They can help regenerate an environment where the skin ECO system is rejuvenated, but not if you keep applying agents like parabens and Triclosan to your skin.
To build back the skin’s probiome, the first step is to eliminate anything that disinfects coming in contact with your skin. These include, parabens, Triclosan, isopropyl alcohol, bleaches and any chemical designed to kill bacteria. Studies have shown that washing with warm water and towel drying can reduce bacteria significantly without killing it. Don’t forget to also make sure that you are not using sulfate based laundry detergents with optical brighteners like Tide, All-Clear and Dreft. The optical brighteners are often phosphorus based and the detergents themselves can kill the good bacteria on your skin.
Personally, I believe that 50% of all diagnosed skin disorders are caused by chemicals in our everyday lives. Eliminate the cause and there is nothing that needs repair. Using lotions and even prescriptions that contain chemicals like parabens and Triclosan do more harm than good.
Like I point out in my book, we all have to be the detectives when it comes to our own health. Most of us recognize the benefits of cleaning up our food intake diet and using probiotics to supplement the normal function of our body. The skin is no different, but is more tenuous because it is exposed to so many situations. Try and minimize the junk that comes in contact with your skin and use probiome skin care products to get you back on track.
I look forward to any and all questions.