Fixing the gut microbiome has been linked to a wide range of health benefits and much of skin care, the beauty category most affected by wellness trends, is now focused on the gut as the secret to complexion perfection.
So comes a wave of designer probiotic pills and powders that suggest they can do a lot of the heavy lifting of that gut fixing for you.
In London and Los Angeles some supplements are outselling serums and other formerly top-selling products, according to an article in the NY Times.
Unfortunately, cleaning up your gut (and your skin) isn’t as simple as swallowing a probiotic. Not yet, anyway.
There are small studies associating certain strains of bacteria with acne reduction, skin hydration and elasticity. For example, one called lactobacillus casei subsp. casei 327 (or L. K-1 for short) seems to improve the skin barrier and reduce flakiness, according to a 2017 Japanese study. Another strain, lactobacillus rhamnosus SP1, has been linked to a reduction in adult acne, reported in a 2016 study.
But it’s not even well established that a strong stomach, bacterially speaking, is the secret to clear skin. We don’t know precisely what the mechanistic connections are between the gut microbiome and the skin, said Justin Sonnenburg, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, who studies gut microbiota.
It is certainly true that what happens in the gut isn’t confined to the gut, he said — that it’s part of the integrated system that is you. Your gastrointestinal micro-organisms affect metabolism, immune response, stress. Change something in the gut microbiome — diet is one of the most powerful levers for that — and the effects ripple outward, potentially to the skin.
But there aren’t any good studies that assess in a systematic, controlled way whether changing the gut microbiome influences skin health, Dr. Sonnenburg said. It’s a further leap to say you can take a probiotic that will have an impact on your gut microbial community in a way that then changes your skin health.
“Big promises have come too fast,” Dr. Belkaid said. “But in the next 10 to 15 years there could be some very impressive products on the market.”
And although the acne working group of the American Academy of Dermatology set forth diet guidelines for treatment for the first time ever in 2016, it stopped short of including probiotics, noting, “the existing evidence is not strong enough to support any recommendations.”
One problem with the current probiotics is that everyone’s gut microbiome is different. Add to that the variations in each person’s immune system and skin microbiome (the distinct community of critters that reside in the skin), and what it means is that whether a given probiotic will flourish — and then have an effect — is a bit of a lottery. – NY Times.