Inside Your Microbiome Part 2

December 18, 2019

book cover Good Bacteria for Healthy Skin


Beauty Nutritionist & Author of "Good Bacteria for Healthy Skin; Nurturing Your Skin Microbiome for Clear & Luminous Skin"

*This is a continuation from Inside Your Microbiome | Part 1

KARI: Now that we've covered the mysteries of the microbiome, let's talk a bit about food and diet and the discoveries you made while writing your new book… which I think is terrific, by the way.

First up: Prebiotic and Probiotic. It took me a minute to figure these two out and why I should be paying more attention. I've been "pretty good" about taking probiotics or looking for food sources (fermented foods —yes, I eat sauerkraut!) that could be a good way to get them into my diet. I'm pretty excited to learn much more about prebiotics, and rather than try a supplement, look at what foods I can add to my diet (fruits, vegetables, and legumes). Can you bottom line these two for me?

PAULA: We know that dietary modification can help to build a strong gut and skin barrier while re-balancing microflora and promoting healthy, clear skin. However, modern food technologies and processing in the western diet have stripped away the good bacteria and enzymes that help build a healthy gut flora and skin microbiome. Unlike probiotics, which are living bacterial cultures, prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrate fiber that can fuel the growth or activity of nonpathogenic bacteria (probiotics) in the colon. Asparagus, garlic, beans, bananas, and leeks are considered great sources of prebiotics. Still, if you're consuming more plant-based foods, you will be getting a good dose of "microbe friendly" nutrition to fuel those good gut bacteria.

KARI: I feel like many of the popular diets these days like Paleo, autoimmune, Whole 30, etc. have made grains and legumes persona non-grata. Given that I struggle with an autoimmune issue, I have tried to adhere to these for the past few years. I've recently begun adding some grains and beans back into my diet. So, hello Prebiotics, I've missed you! Somehow, I feel like moderation with all foods (that you personally tolerate) is the way to go. What are your thoughts?

PAULA: I absolutely agree! There is so much information out there on how we should nourish our bodies or what diet we should follow. It overwhelms me at times! Our unique make-up and biochemical individuality will influence how well we adapt to certain nutritional regimens. Then there's our lifestyle and mindset, such as stress, that will impact how we absorb and metabolize the foods we eat. We are all unique, and thus what works for one may not work for another. Following a plan that is balanced, wholesome, and realistic for your health and lifestyle is so important for optimal health.

KARI: I'm excited to try the recipe for the nourishing mask with probiotics and honey this weekend. Also, to whipping up some of the recipes from the Beautify your Skin Biome section of your book. Sounds like we are in complete lock-step with an inside-out approach to healthy skin. I’ll be back at you with more questions for our continuing series. I love our conversations, Paula! Or I love picking your brain, Paula!

PAULA: Great! I hope you enjoy the recipes Kari, and can't wait for your next round of questions.


Paula answers your questions from Inside Your Microbiome | Part 1:

QUESTION: What effect do products like AHA/BHA acids, retinols, and vitamin c serums have on our microbiome? Are these products good for our skin or do they just provide short-term improvements in the appearance of our skin?

A variety of acids can stimulate skin cell renewal and can provide long-term cosmetic benefits such as improvements in skin firmness and elasticity and the reduction of lines and wrinkles. It is the concentration of acids and frequency of use that can irritate or strip away the outer layer of skin where the majority of skin microflora reside. Lactic acid (LA) is naturally present bacteria in the gut and skin and tends to be less irritating on the skin, making it a great option for sensitive skin. Peeling agents work to “strip away” congested skin debris and disrupt the skin barrier, so it’s important you seek the advice of a dermatologist or medical esthetician to see how they may fit for your skin type.

Vitamin A (Retinol) and Vitamin C are antioxidants that stimulate cellular turnover, which typically slows as we age. But any personal product applied to skin will in some way alter the microbial balance of the skin.

Here is what was found in a recent study that evaluated the effects of personal care products on the skin microbiome.

  • Compounds from beauty products can last on the skin for weeks after their first use, despite daily showering
  • Topical products alter molecular, bacterial diversity and how they function on the skin
  • Changes in skin microflora are site-specific, meaning the site where products are applied to the skin. These changes start after the first week of product use.

One ingredient that lasts on the skin and creates a state of imbalance or “dysbiosis” of skin microbes is propylene glycol. As noted in my book, read labels and be aware of the “hidden” ingredients in a product.


Do you have more questions for Paula? Comment down below and she will answer for the next part! 

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