I've never been into supplements. To be honest, I think most of them are total bullshit (looking at you, protein powder).
But when I was fighting off chronic yeast infections for nearly two years straight, my OB-GYN suggested incorporating probiotic supplements into my diet to balance out all my vaginal flora.
Probiotics are those good, "friendly" bacteria that live in your gut and help curb the growth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria. They're found in foods like Kefir, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha and tempeh.
A lot of people take probiotic supplements for digestive, urinary and vaginal health, but now, some are popping these pills to get clearer, more even-toned and younger-looking skin.
The GI tract and skin are both organs of detoxification. We need a healthy microbiome in the gut to break down food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate toxins. When our gut flora is not healthy, and there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria, a lot of problems can arise — including chronic inflammation, which is a cause of acne and other skin problems. Some bad bacteria, fungus, and yeast can even cause inflammation in and of themselves. So, if you are looking to clear up your skin, you have to start with your gut.
You've probably heard this before, to the tune of, "you are what you eat."
It's like when you down an entire sleeve of Oreos and wake up the next morning with a breakout.
Because your body is producing more insulin to combat all the excess sugar, it also increases the production of skin oils and clogs up your pores.
What you eat has a huge impact on your skin, so it only makes sense that if you avoid sugary and processed junk foods, you'll have a healthier-looking complexion.
And the same goes for stabilizing the bacteria, fungus and yeast in your body.
When probiotics restore that necessary balance in the gut, your skin reflects that.
Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York City dermatologist, told Elle,
The gut and the skin are actually very closely connected. We know that refined carbohydrates and foods that are devoid of fiber really seem to slow digestion and gut motility. When that happens, it creates a shift in the type of bacteria that live in the gut. The molecules that are supposed to be kept inside your gut lining are actually seeping out into the bloodstream, and that can trigger system-wide inflammation and increase inflammatory markers in the skin.
The types of inflammatory markers Bowe describes can include acne, dry patches, redness and irritation.
Though I was only looking to end my battle with yeast infections, adding in a daily probiotic (I'm a fan of Culturelle's Health and Wellness supplement) and cutting out the majority of refined sugar from my diet also cleared up my skin and resolved a few of my stomach issues (read: insane IBS).
After about a month of taking supplements, my stubborn chin zits that had been around since high school stopped showing up, and my greasy T-zone completely evened out.
And now that probiotics have been part of my diet for over a year, I barely deal with breakouts.
I would definitely recommend for anyone with skin issues to try out a daily supplement to see if your blemishes and overall tone and clarity improve.
There are also relatively new topical probiotic beauty products (like cleansers, masks and moisturizers) on the market, but the supporting research behind supplements is much more extensive.
Overall, if you have a balanced diet filled with all the right bacteria, you'll definitely be on your way to clearer, healthier skin.