Dermatologist’s Recommendations for Natural Skin Health: Kefir the best probiotic for healthy skin

Cynthia Bailey, MD|October 22, 2009

Surprisingly, you need  beneficial probiotic bacteria and yeast  to have healthy,naturally beautiful skin! Healthy and Beautiful Skin Your skin is the biggest organ in your body, but the surface area of your intestines would cover a tennis court if it was stretched out flat.  Every bit of your intestinal surface is covered in important probiotic bacteria and yeast that keep you healthy. Your body depends on its huge intestinal surface to get good things in (like nutrients) while keeping bad things out (like mercury). The beneficial germs that live in your gut play a key role here and that’s why probiotics are essential for the health and beauty of your skin. As unsavory as it is to think about beneficial germs living in your intestines, the little guys are a really big deal.  You have about 5 pounds of intestinal microorganisms in your gut and you really want them to be the good guys not the bad guys.  They do critical work for you: they make important vitamins (B vitamins, biotin, vitamin K to name a few), they produce germ killing substances that keep you from getting infections, and they’re your ‘hazmat’ team removing food born toxins like mercury. Modern life has rocked our little intestinal microbes like never before. We start acquiring our microbe population immediately after birth from the things we eat and drink.  Up until modern times a lot of these probiotic microbes came from the bacteria and yeast cultures used to preserve food by a process called fermentation. With the advent of modern food science we now rely on preservatives, refrigeration, pasteurizing, and canning (sterilizing food with high heat).   Our diet no longer contains a constant supply of beneficial probiotics. Add to that the use of lifesaving antibiotics, which wipe out what probiotic population we do have, and you can see that for our intestines, it’s a brave new world. That’s why I recommend foods with probiotics, especially after antibiotics, but frankly we all need them.  I think that our deficient intestinal microbial environment may play a role in many health conditions, including skin diseases like psoriasis, rosacea, eczema and acne.  In my opinion, the best probiotic to replace our lost intestinal microbes is home brewed kefir made from live kefir grains (kefir grains is the name for kefir colonies).  These are the same microbes that our ancestors used to ferment their food.  Human bodies live symbiotically with these microbes, meaning that both we and the germs benefit from the arrangement. Brewed kefir from kefir grains contain more of the beneficial microbes than other probiotic sources like yogurt and probiotic capsuels. When home brewed  as I describe in my next post, the organisms are alive and ready to repopulate your intestines immediately.  Kefir brewing is easy and inexpensive. Kefir milk tastes like buttermilk and if you don’t like the flavor, you can add fruit or honey and make a smoothie.  It’s best drunk at night before bed.  Ideally, this should become a ritual that you continue throughout your lifetime.

An evening glass of kefir

An evening glass of kefir

Commercially prepared kefir products available in the supermarkets lack the full benefits of home brewed kefir.  I’d rather you use them than no kefir at all, but they’re typically made from commercially prepared starter powder, not the kefir grains (cultures) and so they don’t contain the full range of organisms and health benefits of brewed kefir.  Some commercial producers may use live, perpetuated kefir grain cultures to make their kefir, but without calling the company and asking, you just don’t know. There are other probiotic containing cultured foods that are also worth eating from time to time, but none are as easy as kefir.  These include barrel fermented sauerkraut and pickles (not canned/sterilized), miso soup, kombucha, and cultured cheeses.  As with all live probiotic foods, you have to remember not to cook them because high heat kills the beneficial organisms making them useless for repopulating your intestinal microbe population. In my next post, I’ll outline how to start brewing your own kefir.  You’ll have all the information you need to start reaping the health benefits of this probiotic powerhouse food. For more information on kefir you can reference the following web sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kefir http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html http://www.kefir.org/

If you found this post helpful, you may like to read these other posts:

Dermatologist's Recommendations for a Probiotic Powerhouse; Home Brewed Kefir

Natural Skin Health; Dermatologist's Diet Recommendations for Healthy Skin

The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet; A Magic Wand for Overall Health and Beauty

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