When asking friends or family about dieting or nutritional advice, it doesn’t take long before someone suggests taking probiotics or making sure the yogurt you eat has probiotics in them. That’s because probiotics help contribute to our natural gut flora (aka gut biome) that is made up of bacteria. The truth is our gut biome is in a constant state of flux. There is a constant battle between the “good” natural gut flora in our intestine, and the “bad” bacteria that cause things like bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort when there is imbalance in the gut biome. This same principle applies to our skin!
The Battle of the Skin Biome
Whether we like it or not, our skin is home to millions of bacteria. However, despite common belief, not all bacteria on our skin are bad. In fact, there are several bacteria that use our skin’s environment to survive, but don’t cause disease. This elaborate ecosystem of organisms on our skin is called our “skin biome”!
The moment we’re born, the skin biome passed down to us from our mothers is nurtured and constantly evolving as we interact with our environment, nature, and develop lifestyle behaviors. However, today our skin biome faces numerous challenges. One such challenge is the current obsession with cleanliness and the pursuit of sterile environments. This has made it increasingly difficult for beneficial organisms to survive. Remember how we talked about our skin biome being shaped by our natural environment? Well, present day urban living has made it difficult for us to re-establish or sustain beneficial bacteria that we would typically be exposed to in nature.
These shifts in our skin biome, becoming less diverse over time, has left us more susceptible to common skin problems that we see every day (ie skin allergies, increased skin irritation, etc).
There is Hope ... Peacekeeper Bacteria to the Rescue
All around us in nature is a special group of "good" bacteria called Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB) and have been deemed the "peacekeeper" bacteria. They play an integral role in our environment because they convert toxic waste into beneficial compounds the environment needs. Believe it or not, AOB were once commonly found on our skin! AOB has been known to work wonders in maintaining skin health. One of the primary ways it accomplishes this is by using our own sweat, which contains irritating compounds(ammonia & urea) into beneficial chemical compounds (nitrite and nitric oxide) that normalize our skin pH, which then keeps the "bad" bacteria in check!
Nitrite acts as a natural defense against "bad bacteria" while nitric oxide is an antioxidant that helps soothe the skin. Having an increased production of these two compounds allows for balance to be restored in the skin biome and can, in turn, reduce dependence on conventional products like soaps, deodorants, and moisturizers. Remember how AOB like sweat? This means they are most at home in places where there is a propensity to sweat (ie scalp, underarms, palms, groin, and feet) due to the increased density of sweat glands in these areas.
As mentioned above however, less time outdoors coupled with the present day use of harsh skin care products (soaps, deodorants, etc) has made it almost impossible for AOB to thrive in our skin biome.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to actively restore the AOB on our skin? As it turns out, there is! Please see my product review HERE. I will go over an amazing product and address common questions and concerns in that product review article.
I recently became familiar with the skin biome over the past year and found the subject absolutely fascinating. As a health care professional, I definitely believe the importance of establishing and maintaining a healthy microbiome, both within our gut and our skin is understated. I hope this post will help to increase awareness about the microbiomes all around us and how AOB can be used in our favor to improve our skin health. Again, if you're looking for a way you can increase AOB on your skin, please take a look at my product review HERE on an amazing, innovative product.
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