If you’ve gotten a prescription for antibiotics lately, your doctor may have recommended that you eat some yogurt or supplement with probiotics while taking them. It’s pretty common knowledge these days that probiotics (in yogurt or supplements) can help replenish the friendly bacteria in the intestines that are wiped away during antibiotic use.
Probiotics have also been touted as a great way to help keep your digestive system healthy, and some studies have found that certain strains can even help increase the body’s immune response to the flu.1 But did you know that they may also help support the health of your skin, even help prevent eczema?
Maintaining a “healthy gut” as they say can do a lot toward helping maintain a healthy body, inside and out. That’s because the majority of your immune system is located in your digestive system, and as you may know from some of my former posts, skin conditions like eczema and allergic skin are also related to the immune system. Funny how these things all come full circle!
So to find out that getting enough probiotics in your diet could actually help maintain healthier, calmer skin makes sense. Here’s what the studies said:
- A Dutch study looked at 150 women with allergic disease histories in their families. During the last six weeks of pregnancy, some were given probiotics, and some were given a placebo. Then the women had their babies. After three months, those who had taken probiotics were 50 percent less likely to have children with eczema.2
- Another study gave probiotics to mice that couldn’t tolerate whey because of allergies. The probiotics was considerably helpful to them and reduced skin reactions.3
As is usual in science, however, we have to be careful to take things in context. An earlier study actually found no evidence that probiotics relieved symptoms of eczema, and this was a larger study involving over 700 children.4 The researchers noted, however, that further studies were needed, because it was possible that different types of probiotics could prove more effective.
My takeaway from this? If you have eczema, allergic skin, or other types of compromised skin, try getting more probiotics from your diet. Good food sources include yogurt (go for the low-sugar types that guarantee live bacteria cultures), buttermilk, kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and certain types of cheese that indicate live cultures like Kraft’s LiveActive natural cheese snacks, Amish Yogurt Cheese, blue cheese, and other aged cheeses. Just always check the labels to be sure you’re getting the probiotics.
As for supplements, I’d advise you to talk with your doctor. It’s always better to get these nutrients from foods, and probiotic supplements can have irritating side effects for some people.
I’m going to keep my eye out on future studies linking skin health to probiotics. In the meantime, if you try getting more into your diet, let me know how your skin responds!
Have probiotics helped your skin condition? Please share your story.
- Mira Baron, M.D., “A Patented Strain of Bacillus Coagulans Increased Immune Response to Viral Challenge,” Postgraduate Medicine, 10.3810/pgm.2009.03.1971.
- Allergy 2009;64:1349-1358.
- Bastiaan Schouten, et al., “Cow Milk Allergy Symptoms are Reduced in Mice Fed Dietary Synbiotics during Oral Sensitization with Whey,” J. Nutr. July 2009, Vol. 139 (7): 1398-1403.
- Wiley-Blackwell (2008, October 16). Probiotic Bacteria Don’t Make Eczema Better, And May Have Side Effects, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/10/081007192433.htm
Photo courtesy the bbbakey via Flickr.com.