We talked to a microbiologist about whether probiotics have a true effect on skin
You’d have to be living under a rock to not have at least heard of caught wind of the growing trend of probiotics. While probiotics themselves have existed for a long time, the recent cultural obsession with the health benefits of probiotics has been everywhere. Whether we’re reading about how probiotics will improve skin, or how they help keep our vaginas healthy, the health claims surround probiotic have reached superfood levels.
So, in order to get to the bottom of what probiotics actually do and how they function in our bodies, HelloGiggles spoke with the Microbiologist Kiran Krishnan who’s performed clinical research on different strains of probiotics.
To kick it off, he explained what probiotics are supposed to do:
“Probiotics are supposed to modulate the function of the intestinal microbiome. The intestinal microbiome is the collection of organisms and all the genetic elements that exist in your digestional tract. You have 100 trillion bacterial cells that live in your gut alone, which gives you perspective when you compare that to the mere 10 trillion cells that make up the human body. We’ve got over 3.5 billion bacterial genes that function in our body, so bacterial genes really affect how we look.”
He went on to describe the ways in which filling our gut with good bacteria can affect how we look. “Bacterial genes affect 99% of our makeup and hereditary genes only affect 1%, so 99% of who and what we are comes from our bacterial makeup. So persistent skin issues like acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, all of that stuff is a reflection of what’s happening in the gut.”
After confirming that your skin reflects your gut, he also gave us the good news that probiotics repopulate our gut fast:
“If your skin appears to be unhealthy, then it’s a direct indication that your gut is unhealthy. The skin is covered with microbes, we have more microbes on our skin than skin cells. So, it’s something like 15-1, for every one skin cell we have there are 15 bacterial cells.With the right probiotic, you would feel a difference in your body within the first two weeks, and you’d see a difference on your skin within the first month.”
He also told us about how a healthy gut produces the essential Vitamin K2-7, and how it effects the appearance of our skin.
“A good bacteria in your gut produces something called Vitamin K2-7, it’s an essential nutrient, you can also take it as a supplement. It gets rid of calcium that’s binded to elastagen and collagen,” says Krishnan. “One of the reasons people develop wrinkles as they age, is because the proteins elastagen and collagen are supposed to keep the skin tight. What happens over the time is the collagen becomes calcified. Vitamin K2 is the only vitamin known to remove this calcium and restore collagen. You could potentially take Vitamin K2-7 as a supplement, but you’d need a healthy gut in order to absorb it.”
One point that Krishnan made sure to emphasize, was how much easier it is for skin to improve through digestion vs. topical treatments.
“It’s easier and better to get nutrients to your skin through the digestion process, rather than topically. That’s the whole beauty from within concept. So, in order for us to actually absorb those vitamins and minerals, we need low to no inflammation in the intestinal tract. I always tell people that you aren’t what you eat, you are what you absorb. You could be eating healthy food all day long, but if your gut isn’t absorbing those nutrients it doesn’t make a difference.”
One of the most fascinating discoveries Krishnan shared was that our body has the ability to create its own antioxidants when our gut is healthy.
“The problem with many antioxidants is it’s difficult to absorb them from the vegetables we eat, because they’re bound up in fibers and it’s hard for us to pull them out,” he says. “Some studies have suggested that we only absorb 10% of the antioxidants we consume. With that in mind, there was research done in London University to see if there’s bacteria in your gut to make antioxidants for you.”
So, given all of the knowledge Krishnan has about the science of probiotics, and why’re so important, we asked if he has any specific types or brands he recommends. Here’s what he dished:
“I do a lot of clinical research, so far there’s only one probiotic that we’ve worked with that I enthusiastically recommends and it’s called Just Thrive Probiotics. The first thing it does is produce a bunch of digestive enzymes in your gut to help your body break down and absorb nutrients. The next thing, is it contains a special strain called Bacillus Indicus, which produces 12 different antioxidants in your gut for you. It’s the only strain that’s ever been shown to produce those, no other probiotic has been shown to do that. It took 5.7 million euros of research to develop and isolate and find that strain. It involved 6 different research institutes and somewhere around 80 researchers.”
He even went on to explain how taking Just Thrive Probiotics has positively affected his patients: “These strains included in Just Thrive, Bacillus Endospores, are the only ones I know of that have research that it alleviates Leaky Gut in 30 days. I work with a clinic in Illinois. We have a patient whose been taking the spores, he was on antibiotics every day of his life for 20 years. The reason he was on antibiotics was for his cystic acne, we started giving him these bacillus endospores as a probiotic, he came back to us three months later and he had a clear skin without taking his antibiotics. We have numbers of patients like that.”
Well now we have it, the science behind the benefits of probiotics is robust, and we await even more discoveries.