The beneficial effects of regular probiotic consumption have been part of the popular zeitgeist for quite some time now. When asked about probiotics, most people can answer that “yes, probiotic use is good for your health,” but when pressed for further information these same people come up short. I must confess that I was, until recently, part of that group. My knowledge of the valuable health benefits of probiotic use was limited to understanding their underlying definition and knowing that their beneficial effects extended beyond digestive health, but not much more than that. As it turns out, probiotic use has a wide range of clinical and therapeutic applications such as alleviating specific mental and cognitive disorders, improve cardiovascular health, and even helping to clear up your skin.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS AND WHERE DO I GET THEM?
Let us take a quick refresher on exactly what are these so-called probiotics.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization define probiotics as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”
To put that into context, let me remind you that our entire digestive system, including our stomachs and intestines, is host to a plethora of bacteria collectively known as gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut flora numbers in the trillions of organisms; most of which have a mutually beneficial symbiosis with the human body.
Some of the gastrointestinal organisms found in humans are capable of dietary fiber fermentation and the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids which are absorbed by the host. Digestive bacteria also play a significant role in the production of vitamins B and K as well as bile acid metabolism. Gastrointestinal flora is able to function as a pseudo endocrine system of sorts, and as such, any drastic changes to their number or integrity can manifest in a variety of medical conditions.
Dietary or supplemental probiotic consumption aims to strengthen, regulate and repopulate gastrointestinal micro-biota; hence the importance and potential benefit of regularly consuming these wonderful organisms.
Besides probiotic supplement products that are specifically designed to provide your body with a large number of culture inducing organisms, plenty of natural food products are rich in probiotics. To boost your probiotic numbers include in your regular diet some yogurt, soy milk, Kefir, Sauerkraut, Kimchee, pickles, and even dark chocolate, for example.
HOW CAN PROBIOTIC USE ALLEVIATE MY ITCHY SKIN?
As a man I have found Probiotics for men also works in other ways. The skin is the largest organ found in the human body; yet for some reason, conditions that adversely affect the integrity of the skin are often thought of as purely cosmetic in scope. Diseases of the skin such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, candidiasis, athlete’s foot, etc. are all medical conditions and should be treated with medical solutions. If you suffer from itchy skin, a moisturizing cream might help to provide relief from the symptoms, but a more permanent solution is going to be needed. Fortunately, there is plenty of scientifically sound and evidence backed data that strongly suggests that probiotic supplementation can provide significant dermatological benefit to those suffering from such conditions.
A recent study out of the New York University School of Medicine was able to show a positive correlation between oral ingestion of the probiotic Lactobacillus Casei and alleviation of antigen-specific skin inflammation; this should cause little surprise since one of the most well-documented effects that probiotics have on intestinal lining tissue is that of anti-inflammation.
Another study, published by the British Journal Dermatology in 2010, found clinical evidence to suggest that a dietary supplement containing the probiotic Lactobacillus Johnsonii was able, over a ten week period, to significantly reduce early Ultra-Violet induced skin damage caused by sun exposure. These results are promising, and further suggest that probiotic supplementation could have beneficial long-term effects in the field of dermatology.
How could eating yogurt have such a potent effect on my skin, you might be asking yourself right about now. Well, healthy skin can produce a gamut of antimicrobial compounds that play an important role in eradicating cutaneous pathogens. Probiotic consumption stimulates this natural function of the skin. The probiotic Lactobacillus Plantarum, for example, produces antimicrobial peptides, which have anti-inflammatory as well as anti-microbial effects when applied directly to skin lesions.
ARE THERE ANY POTENTIAL ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO PROBIOTICS?
Although all probiotics are considered safe for consumption by healthy individuals, it would be prudent to note that in some cases there have been reports of adverse side effects associated with probiotic supplementation. Since, under current laws, most nutritional supplements are not heavily regulated, there is no substantial emphasis placed on safety, purity, or potency of these products, which is why some probiotic supplement manufacturers use a variety of ingredients and components in their formulas that may cause you to develop some allergic reaction. These reactions will vary from mild to severe depending on the product and the state of health of the consumer.
Natural probiotics are also capable of causing unwanted side effects. People who are immunocompromised, or otherwise predisposed, through some serious illness are at an elevated risk to experience adverse effects from probiotic consumption. An overt stimulation of the immune apparatus has been observed in some patients, and also cases of altered metabolic pathways have been reported. If at any time, after you begin taking probiotics, you experience trouble breathing, hives and swelling in your throat, tongue, face or lips, discontinue use and seek medical attention. Other side effects of potential probiotic allergic reactions to look for are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lightheadedness, and dizziness. Bloating, intestinal gas and upset stomach are more common side effects and should not be cause for alarm as these subside after a few days.
We have seen that the therapeutic possibilities of probiotics in the field of dermatology are substantial. Without a doubt, we can assert that probiotics have a hugely promising future in skin care. Most of the diseases that affect the skin can be quite problematic to treat since in many cases it is challenging to pinpoint the exact cause. Therefore, it is essential to know and appreciate the potential benefit of alternative treatments and therapies. Next time you are suffering from itchy skin take a trip to your local grocery store, and you might find the cure in the dairy aisle where they keep the yogurt.
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- WIKIPEDIA PROBIOTICS