Why You Want Bacteria On Your Skin

Everyone is now aware of the good bacteria in your gut that keeps it healthy, or your gut microbiome. Microbiome is just a fancy word for the community of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that reside in or on a particular area. Did you know you also have very active skin microbiota? You do, and it’s very important that, just like your gut microbiota, you keep it healthy and in tact. Let me explain to you more about what it is, why its important, and how to keep it healthy.

What is Skin Microbiota

You have, on any particular part of your body a unique colonies of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that have formed a symbiotic relationship with your skin to keep it healthy. I know, we usually thing bacteria, fungi, and viruses are bad, but the truth is they are only bad if they’re in the wrong spot or the wrong quantity. If they’re in the right spot and in the correct ratio, they form a unique defense system that keeps your body shielded against the ones that shouldn’t be there.

Why is Your Skin Microbiome Important

Think of your skin microbiome as your very own version of the United States department of defense. You have the army, the marine corps, navy, air force, coast guard, and national guard at your disposal. Now, they’re a friendly bunch when they’re on your side, but cross them and you have a world of misery coming your way.

This is the same as your skin microbiome. It protects you from threatening invaders. Now, let’s make our personal department of defense unhealthy. Let decrease its numbers by using alcohol, antimicrobial soaps, or harsh disinfectants on our skin. What do you think is going to happen when we remove all our soldiers from the field? You guessed it, we’re more susceptible to foreign invaders; meaning the body is more susceptible to getting sick.

Again, I’m putting this very simply, and if you’re interested in delving into a deeper explanation I recommend starting with the article Functions of the skin microbiota in health and disease written by James A.Sanford and Richard L.Gallo from the Seminars in Immunology. It’s one of many research articles which discusses the relationship of the skin microbiome and the immune system at length. I also recommend checking out the article Microbiome in healthy skin, update for dermatologists. Be forewarned, you’re going to get a lot of information about the human body in these articles.

In addition to protecting us from viruses and disease, our skins microbiome also keeps our skin looking healthy and glowing. When our skins ecosystem is balanced, the skin remains healthy. A low diversification in our skins ecosystem, caused by what we put on our skin or what we consume, can cause our skin to be more sensitive and even provoke pathological conditions (dermatitis, acne, rosacea, etc.) The skins microbiota stimulates the immune system, activating the natural physiological response and stops the colonization of harmful agents.

How to Keep your Skin Microbiome Healthy

The number one way to keep your skin healthy is to start by consuming healthy foods and keeping your body hydrated. This is only one portion of how to maintain a healthy skin microbiome. Believe it or not factors such as sleep, anxiety, and stress can affect how healthy your microbiome is. So, most importantly, maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Second, don’t wash away your microbiome. All the disinfecting soaps, sprays and wipes might rid you of harmful bacteria and viruses, but guess what, it also rids you of your number one defense. I recommend washing hands with warm water using a soap that is oil based or protects your skins microbiome. I use Castile Soap and I’ve also heard the Mother Dirt is really good as well. Antibacterial soap should only be used in medical facilities and by doctors for obvious reasons.

Stop using hand sanitizers made with alcohol or that contain antibacterial properties. You’re literally killing your defenses. I make my own version of on the go hand sanitizer (you can find it here) and I love it. Not only does it clean the hands, it also brings the skins ph back to it’s happy place.

Lastly, stop using disinfectant wipes, and if you must, wear gloves. Here’s the truth. You are going to be exposed to all sorts of different bacteria and viruses whether you go out in public or live like a hermit. Instead of being terrified of them, be smart.

  • Wipe dirty surfaces off with water or spray with your homemade hand sanitizer
  • Don’t put your hands anywhere near your face and especially not in your eyes nose or mouth
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet
  • Drink lots of water
  • Sleep well
  • Reduce stress and anxiety

You will be able to minimize if not avoid sickness if you follow those above rules. Just food for thought as well; Have you ever noticed that high flu season follows the holiday season? This is no coincidence. During the holidays most people are eating extremely poor diets, not drinking enough water, under more stress than usual and not getting enough sleep. It’s not that the flu virus magically disappears the rest of the year, it’s just that we make ourselves more susceptible to it during the holidays by weakening our immune systems.

I’m not implying that viruses are not destroyed by summer heat, or heat in genera; this is why we have fever as an immune response, but this is a separate topic. I only want to share the importance of beginning your fight against catching colds and flu by building your immune system first. So, do yourself a favor and take care of your health over the holidays as well.

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