Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future?

The title of this article has been taken directly from the journal Gut Pathogens January 2011, and can be accessed for free at This article tells the story of the gut connection. As we have been preaching for years, there is good evidence of a connection between gut bacteria and most (if not all) of the body organs, including the skin and brain.  What’s more, the above article presents much new, refined information, but the basic information is included from published references from 80-90 years ago!

Read, and be informed of the following concepts presented:

1.  The regular consumption of fat, sugar and simple carbs low in fiber, will decrease the beneficial bifidobacteria and other probiotic species in the colon and terminal small intestine (the end of the small intestine).

2.  Low  bifidobacteria allows increases of other bacteria that may promote colonic lining (epithelium) inflammation, with increased free radical damage and oxidative stress that leads to increased intestinal permeability (IP), or leaky gut.

3.  Increased IP leads to the passage (or translocation) of partially digested food particles, bacterial toxins, and other bacterial byproducts including fat (or lipids) from dead bacterial cell walls.

4.  Bacterial cell wall lipids known as lipopolysaccarides (LPS), or also bacterial toxins, are easily measured in the blood, and are important indicators of how much overactivity will occur in the immune system.  Elevated LPS is very likely to occur after eating your favorite ice cream, or even too much bacon and eggs with toast and jelly (high fat, high sugar, and low fiber).

5.  Elevated blood levels of LPS cause the immune system to increase production of inflammatory markers (pro-inflammatory cytokines). These markers can cause many negative reactions, including decreased insulin receptor sensitivity, and thereby elevate blood sugar and insulin levels.

6.  Chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin promote increase in blood lipids, and  increase in inflammation which can contribute to acne, anxiety and depression, among other conditions.

Here is the good news,  a  high-fiber diet found in vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, with some low glycemic fruits (especially berries) will promote high-normal levels of bifidobacteria. Taking prebiotic fibers was also shown in this article to increase bifidobacteria, and supplementing with bifidobacteria probiotics or fermented foods will definitely have overall beneficial effects on the body, including the skin and the brain.

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