The Key to Symbiosis and Reduced Inflammation

In today's society there is a great deal of effort spent on eradicating our homes and ourselves of bacteria. From antibacterial soaps and household cleaners to bacteria-resistant clothing, we seem to be waging a war on bacteria. With so much attention being paid to the negative effects of these invisible organisms, it may seem counterintuitive to actually ingest bacteria purposefully. But the truth is, there are hundreds of "good bacteria," like acidophilus, that not only help us achieve better health but are necessary for us to survive and thrive!

The term probiotic means "for life!" A probiotic is a living microorganism which, when administered in sufficient amounts, confers a health benefit to its host. Two of the most common probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus and the group known as bifidobacteria, are commonly found in the gut and assist the body with a number of functions. The digestive system is inhabited by billions of these bacteria, collectively referred to as intestinal microflora.

We begin to acquire microflora as infants, and by the time we've reached adulthood there are as many as 450 different bacterial species inhabiting our colons alone! L. acidophilus and bifidobacteria improve the health and function of the digestive tract by discouraging the growth of unfriendly or harmful bacteria, yeasts such as Candida, and protozoa. They also improve the overall integrity of the intestinal wall, which reduces the amount of toxins entering the bloodstream. Research indicates that poor intestinal health, especially leaky gut and overabundance of Candida, can exacerbate skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and acne. Lactobacilli also improve nutrient absorption, while bifidobacteria produce B-complex vitamins and inhibit nitrates, which are possible cancer causers. It is thought that B vitamins are essential to skin health.

You might not know how profoundly your diet, the environment, hormonal changes and your stress levels can affect your GI tract. Ensuring that your digestive system is in balance (a state of symbiosis) is a first step to reaping the benefits of excellent health. Dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the intestine, is often the result of a deficiency of good bacteria. An imbalance can lead to uncomfortable digestive issues, including slow intestinal transit time. In fact, probiotic supplements containing beneficial bacteria are often suggested for a variety of conditions, such as colitis, acne, eczema and psoriasis! Consuming bifidobacteria regularly for just 30 days is clinically proven to improve digestive health.

At DermaHarmony we want you to understand why probiotic supplements are so important, and how they can help you in a variety of ways.

Why would I supplement with probiotics for skin problems?

Many helpful bacteria are found in the gut, and when present in adequate numbers are able to perform their tasks amazingly well. Oftentimes, simple factors like stress, the use of antibiotics or hormones, or a bout of ill health can cause an imbalance in the colonies of beneficial flora versus harmful ones in the gut. Altered bowel function with diarrhea wipes out the organisms, and constipation impairs ideal levels as well. When numbers of helpful organisms are low, there is often an increase in detrimental bacteria. A lack of symbiosis between the intestinal flora in your gut and you as their host can lead to common symptoms of malabsorption, indigestion, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. These include:

  • Failure to thrive (in infancy and childhood)
  • Anemia, with weakness and fatigue due to inadequate absorption of vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid
  • Diarrhea, steatorrhea (excessive amount of fat in the stool)
  • Abdominal distention with cramps
  • Cramping, bloating, and flatulence (gas) due to impaired water and carbohydrate absorption plus irritation from unabsorbed fatty acids
  • Frequent bulky stools
  • Frequent loose, watery stools
  • Greasy stools
  • Pale, foul-smelling, bulky stools
  • Dandruff
  • Canker sores and skin rashes
  • Adult acne and rosacea
  • Dilation of cheek and nose capillaries
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Weak and cracking fingernails
  • Recurring yeast infections, Candida, or vaginitis
  • Low sex drive
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feelings of anxiety and depression

There is no doubt that a healthy digestive system is critical for proper nutrient absorption. Aiding nutrient absorption can dramatically improve health. For your body to digest and absorb the correct amount of nutrients and minerals from the food you eat, the nutrients need to be "bio-available," that is, in a form which can be easily assimilated by the GI tract. Probiotics are helpful in breaking food particles such as proteins into smaller nutrient molecules, aiding their digestion and absorption. The beneficial bacteria assist by acidifying the intestinal tract (lowering the pH level), which is necessary for optimal absorption of nutrients and trace minerals.

One of the easiest ways to increase and encourage the growth of helpful bacteria colonies is to take a high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade probiotic supplement. Though it is possible to increase beneficial flora by eating foods such as yogurt (try the Activia brand by Dannon), most simply do not contain the quantity and quality of viable bacteria to increase populations at an acceptable rate. You simply cannot get enough from food alone when fighting a severe imbalance or inflammatory condition of concern like psoriasis. This is true especially for those who do not tolerate dairy.

Choosing a Probiotic Formula

When choosing a probiotic supplement, it is very important to select a top-quality, pharmaceutical-grade product for consistent levels of live active organisms that yield potent and effective results. Since probiotics are in fact live bacteria, it is essential that they are packaged carefully under sterile conditions. This is not only to prohibit the inclusion of potentially harmful bacteria, but also to ensure that the desired good organisms remain viable. It's also important that a probiotic formula remain live and active during shipping and throughout its shelf life. Likewise, probiotic supplements should be discarded upon expiration date as they are most likely no longer viable.

An indication of the quantity of bacteria present in a probiotic supplement should be listed on the label by "CFU," or colony forming unit. This number refers to the number of cells per gram at the time the probiotic was packaged. These numbers may seem very high, in the millions or even billions, but are actually quite moderate when considering the vast numbers of bacteria already inhabiting our bodies.

At DermaHarmony, we want you to understand why probiotic supplements are so important and how they may help you in a variety of ways. We are proud to offer an excellent probiotic formula within our own DermaEssentials™ daily supplement packs! With DermaEssentials™, we provide 8 billion units per day, delivered in two servings of a gelatin capsule containing white powder. The following probiotics are included in our Skin Care Packs.

How to Use Probiotics

It is important to take probiotics daily as directed on the packaging. This will help to maintain beneficial levels of flora in the intestines. Some individuals with certain inflammatory conditions would be recommended to continue this indefinitely, while others may choose to use probiotics more intermittently. For example, if you have recently completed a course of antibiotics, you may want to consider taking extra daily probiotics for at least a month thereafter to restore colonies of organisms that have been wiped out.

If you are on a chronic course of antibiotics or suffer from bowel issues, continued daily use of probiotics makes sense. Those with inflammatory conditions such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, colitis, or IBS may indeed also benefit from continued daily use. It is also critical to use probiotics during a colon cleanse like our DermaDetox™ formula.

What to Expect

You may initially feel gassy or bloated when you first start taking probiotics. This is usually caused by the die-off of harmful bacteria. The bloating typically goes away after a few days. Drinking enough water, consuming adequate fiber, a healthy diet and bowel regularity really helps you purge properly and limit this die-off effect. If bloating and gas continue or are severe, you may benefit from a colon cleanse.

As you continue to take probiotics, your intestinal health may increase, and you may notice better digestion and bowel regularity, as well as more normal quality of bowel movements. The probiotics will facilitate better nutrient absorption, and as your internal healing increases the benefits of probiotics may be seen externally as well. At this stage many ailments, including skin conditions, often begin to improve!