The first studies on human-related microbial composition started in the mid 17th century. Still, it was not until a few years ago that researchers started to explore the full potential of the microbiome. Every individual has a unique microbiome, composed of trillions of bacteria, viruses, mites, and other microorganisms that inhabit the human body, from the skin to the digestive system.
The gut and skin flora play an essential role in our overall health, covering responsibilities such as regulating body temperature, safeguarding the digestive system, and strengthening the immune system. While much is yet to be discovered about these powerful microorganisms, we know that the gut and skin microbiomes are connected and essential for our wellbeing. Here’s all you need to know to work towards a healthier, more balanced microbiome.
Be mindful about your hygiene
Keeping up with your hygiene practices has never been as crucial as it is today. However, when washing and sanitising your hands, it is vital to stay away from substances that can entirely disrupt the beneficial microbiome of your hands and skin.
At the same time, harsh scrubbing can cause micro-cuts and scratches, which, without the protective action of beneficial bacteria, can be more prone to infections.
If you want to keep up your hygiene standards without disrupting your skin flora, opt for natural and gentle soaps and handwashes that are more microbiome-friendly.
Hydrate and eat balanced
While the link between diet and the microbiome is not a new concept, researchers have started to truly understand the implications of this connection on our health.
At the same time, a 2018 study shows how the gut microbiome also influences what’s happening on the skin. This gut-skin axis is something that can be safeguarded and regulated through a healthy, nutritious diet.
Speaking to your nutritionist should be the first step to understand the most microbiome-friendly diet. However, researchers have found that plant-based diets can be particularly beneficial in balancing the gut microbiota, aiding weight loss, and reducing inflammation. These benefits also derive from the fact that plant-based diets are often rich in legumes, vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
It is also essential to understand what foods might affect the microbiome and trigger skin reactions or disorders’ flare-ups. For example, gluten and dairy have been seen to be common triggering factors for individuals with eczema or acne.
Exercise is essential for the skin and gut bacteria for many reasons. Firstly, sweat can act as a fortifying probiotic – or beneficial bacteria – for the skin’s microbiome. Additionally, exercising can decrease stress, help with weight loss, keep the digestive system efficient, and strengthen the immune system, which are all critical factors in protecting the microbiome’s health.
During exercise, your blood flow also increases, which means that the blood can carry fresh oxygen across the body and skin, replenishing nutrients for cells and microorganisms.
Avoid antibiotics if you can
Antibiotics can be helpful in the treatment of infections, but their action is not always precisely targeted. Overusing antibiotics can affect the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome and also build antibiotic resistance – and the effects can last for up to six months after the treatment!
When these factors are combined, it is easy to see how antibiotics can cause disruptions in the immune system, leaving the body exposed to attacks and low on defences. Ideally, you should discuss other alternatives with your doctor.
Keep stress at bay
Managing stress levels is essential for a healthy gut and skin microbiome. High levels of cortisol in the blood can disrupt the balance of bacteria and microorganisms in the gut – even during a highly stressful but brief moment.
There are several kinds of stress to watch out for to maintain your microbiome healthy, including:
- Psychological stress, including fatigue and anxiety
- Environmental stress such as extreme temperatures or noise
- Lack of sleep and disruptions of the circadian rhythm
You can use several techniques to keep stress at bay and regaining sleep quality, including meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, mindful exercise, and deep breathing exercises.
Buy the right clothes
We often don’t realise how often our skin is in contact with fabrics, colourants, and chemicals. Natural fibres such as cotton and wool that have been minimally dyed provide more natural coverage for your skin, which is less likely to negatively impact the skin microbiome.
Among others, tight clothes, absorbent garments, and synthetic fibres can create a sterile environment for the microorganisms that thrive because of sebum, sweat, or temperature.
Invest in a Skin Trust Club test
When trying to maintain your skin microbiome healthily and balanced, the first step is to understand it better. Indeed, every individual’s microbiome is unique, and skincare solutions that might work for someone else might not be as beneficial for you.
With the Skin Trust Club test, you can send a sample of your microbiome directly to a team of scientists that will be able to tell you all about your skin health and microbial composition. You will also receive bespoke skincare guidelines and hand-picked product recommendations based on your unique skin goals.
Thanks to the Skin Trust Club app, you can also check on your result, making sure you are keeping your microbiome in check!