Stop Sanitizing – Feed Your Skin Instead
Feeding your skin may sound funny, but microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. The human body contains trillions of microorganisms — outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Although, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body’s mass (in a 200-pound adult, that’s between 2 and 6 pounds of bacteria), they still play a vital role in human health.
What is a Microbiome?
Merriam Websters dictionary defines a microbiome as the following; “a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living in or on the human body”. Microbiomes can live everywhere. The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.
Balance Your Skin Flora With Seaflora!
Your skin is colonized by millions and millions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Just like the microbes in your gut having a larger impact on your overall health, microbes on your skin, impact the way it looks and feels—and its ability to serve as a barrier between your body and the outside world. Feeding your skin, and keeping that barrier healthy is an extremely important step in your daily routine. “The skin biome is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin. Research is showing that they play a crucial role in how our skin looks, feels, and acts.” – Jasmina Aganovic
Living on you, there are billions of microbes that make up your skin microbiome. These microorganisms (sometimes called skin flora) are harmless or even beneficial—playing a vital role in your immune system and skin appearance. Evolved over thousands of years, the human microbiome consists of many distinct types of colonies, depending on the location and condition of the microenvironment.
But your skin could be left vulnerable if your skin’s microbiome has been damaged in one of many ways:
- harsh soaps
- incorrect or overuse of antibiotics
- harsh skincare products
- environmental factors
So, How do I Feed my Skin Flora?
There’s a fine balance between having good hygiene and overdoing it. Avoid over-washing or using harsh cleansers, and don’t over exfoliate! Too much friction can strip your skin of its healthy microbes, and create micro-tears in the skin at the same time. These tiny tears can be a breeding ground for unhealthy pathogens. When it comes time to dry off, gently pat your skin dry instead of vigorously rubbing yourself with the towel.
Eat well and hydrate
As with most aspects of your health, your diet plays a vital role in keeping your skin healthy. Eating a diet rich in healthy fats, vegetables, protein, and fibre helps your gut bacteria, which in turn helps your skin! Always be sure to drink the recommended 2 litres of water per day. Being chronically dehydrated can negatively impact your microbiome. Finally, try to work up a sweat regularly to help feed your skin as well!
Avoid synthetic fabrics
Choose natural fibres like cotton over synthetics whenever possible. Man-made fabrics, especially those that are tight or worn closely to the skin, can cause an imbalance in your microbiome. Synthetic fabrics can cause hormonal imbalance and blocked pores. Remember that microbiota thrive on different areas of the body because of their unique environments. If you often wear items that cause your temperature to rise or fall noticeably, sebum or sweat production, or otherwise affect the normal skin conditions, you could create an environment in which good skin flora cannot thrive and bad flora over populates.
Choose products wisely
Avoid antibacterial soaps and step away from hand sanitizer. In many cases, they kill the beneficial microbes along with the bad ones. Beyond the antibacterial type, soaps in general are alkaline, which can upset the balance of your acidic skin and actually make you more vulnerable to alkaline-loving potential pathogens. When it comes time to moisturize, be aware that many lotions have ingredients that are not microbiome-friendly. Use gentle, water-attracting moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
Embrace Your Skin Microbiome
While it may go against everything you’ve been taught for decades, not all bacteria or other microbes should be killed or avoided. And, in reality, it would be a never ending endeavour. So, instead of being grossed out by the billions of life forms with which you share your body, embrace the little guys that make up your skin microbiome and do your best to protect them while they try to protect you!