The story of our gut begins in our mouths, where an intestinal tube leads from the back of the throat down to the side of the stomach. This tube is called the esophagus, and everything we eat and drink flows down this pipe into our stomachs. Microbiologists are focusing on the small intestine as the place where many allergies begin, because mixed in with all this digestive activity is a vast array of beneficial bacteria that work tirelessly on our behalf, regulating all the inner processes continually taking place and communicating with all parts of our body, including our brain!
The largest colonies of these wondrous and helpful microbes live in our gut — the most famous being a group of beneficial flora called Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacterium. Dr. Roshini Raj, the gastroenterologist and internist (Harvard undergrad, NYU School of Medicine), decided to take what she knew about a healthy intestinal microbe population and transfer it to protecting her skin.
"I looked at the multitude of products out there and (being a bit of a control freak!) thought I could do better. I tackled the issue as a scientist and researcher and I started with ingredients that I knew were good for our bodies internally to see how they affect our skin when applied topically. In my GI practice, I saw firsthand how internal well-being and skin health go hand in hand. And thus, my line TULA was born."
What's a probiotic?
"Probiotics, aka 'good' bacteria, are a species of living microorganisms that we all contain in our digestive tract. They are one of the new breakthroughs in the industry shown to help with clearer skin, decreased skin sensitivity, redness, and inflammation," says Dr. Raj.
Tip: Use probiotic actives like yogurt internally and externally to help protect skin against harmful bacteria and negative environmental irritants. Why? "They supply bioactives to restore the skin's natural balance and stabilize skin's natural immune system."
What is a microbiome?
"The human microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that make up the bacterial environment in our bodies, creating a healthy and properly functioning internal system."
Tip: Because this collection is made of different blends of bacteria that coexist and inhabit some of our organs including our skin (skin microbiota) and our gut (gut microbiota or "gut flora"), it's great to take a daily probiotic like Xymogen's ProbioMax Plus DF. "Some new research shows that more than 10,000 different types of bacteria make up our microbiome."
How does it affect our bodies?
"Different species of bacteria, or microbiota, carry out specific functions to support our overall health and survival against diseases, from the immune system to the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. Overall, our microbiome helps to determine whether something is harmful or beneficial, ensuring a balance within our bodies."
Tip: Sleep, sleep, sleep! There are also many studies that show the link between a healthy balance of gut bacteria and anti-inflammatory microbes to healthier sleep patterns, due to the maintenance of this internal balance.
How do probiotics help to support our microbiome?
"Within the past five years, we've seen studies show that probiotics can have powerful skin care benefits. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology has called them the 'new beauty breakthrough' thanks to their ability to protect the skin and decrease skin redness and calm inflammation."
Tip: Topical probiotics help strengthen the skin's natural defense mechanisms, making it more resistant to damage from environmental stressors. "By forming a protective shield on the skin's surface, they also stop your cells from 'seeing' or reacting to bad bacteria and developing inflammation, which may age your skin and aggravate acne or rosacea."
Eating to maintain gut health and get a beauty boost
"I always say that beautiful skin begins with good nutrition and stays grounded in good nutrition. Incorporating a well-balanced diet can help some of the most common skin issues, like breakouts and blemishes, that are directly related to your intestinal balance."
Tip: Feed your guts! Eat anti-inflammatory and probiotic rich foods such as turmeric, yogurt, root vegetables, broccoli, fish, avocado, and green tea.
What probiotic products should we use for glowing skin?
"In general, probiotic-rich skin care can provide a greater range of benefits over a regular cream or serum that contain harsh chemicals and fragrances. Your microbiome needs to thrive!"
Tip: "As a doctor and mother of two, I wash my hands at least 12 times a day, which can be really drying and rough on my skin and cuticles. We specifically developed our new hand cream to help balance skin's natural moisture barrier, combat the signs of aging (where we see it the most), and restore the good bacteria that gets stripped away by harsh soaps and antibacterial gels."