Understanding The Body’s Largest Organ: The Skin

Have you ever been told to eat yogurt to help maintain the healthy flora of your gut? You are not alone. For over a decade now, doctors have been telling patients to eat yogurt to help keep their stomach health in check. The enzymes help maintain healthy bacteria that aid digestion and overall health. The gut has been linked to the root of many auto-immune diseases. Doctors, researchers, and scientists have spent time studying pathogens that may contribute to these types of diseases and others, but what if we looked at it in a positive aspect. What if we focused on the healthy flora (bacteria) and studied how to make that thrive.

This conceptual shift of negative to positive, made me think about what we our doing for our skin, let alone the gut. Don’t get me wrong, I believe what I put into my body will eventually if not immediately play a role in my digestive health, and auto-immune diseases are more prevalent than ever, which brings up a topic of food, but that is a whole different article. So, my question is, what happens when hand sanitizers are used? The alcohol and other ingredients can remove healthy flora from our skin. In fact many hand sanitizers still have an ingredient, Triclosan, that has been banned from anti-bacterial soap, yet still used here.

This alarms me. The skin is in fact the largest organ in our body. What are we doing to protect it?

Think about this.

Alcohol kills bugs.

Bugs kill infections.

Alcohol kills the skin.

How does this help our immune health? Isn’t our skin our own personal line of defense. It protects every organ, basically it is the outermost layer of our DNA. Keeping it healthy should be a priority, but most products on the market don’t make it so.

With doctors talking microbiome of the gut, I am anxious for doctors to start talking microbiome of the skin. Barrier health, the first line of defense of immune health. Killing good bacteria off the skin is not the answer. It also hurts your healthy flora, which in turn creates problems, and provides places for bad bacteria to grow and germs to spread. I am sitting on an airplane writing this, and wondering how many bad germs are being spread on this flight. Yuck.

Dr. Peter Elias is a pioneer in stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin) health, and making waves with his findings, especially when it comes to maintaining a proper pH of the skin. Yet have we really looked to the depths of the full eco-system of the skin?

Think about this… when we wake up in the morning we use soap. Most soaps leave our skin more alkaline, effecting the pH of our skin, creating daily routine of trying to regain a balanced pH.* When our skin functions at a normal level, we have the ability to better keep organisms in balance. With they go out of balance, our skin cannot protect and defend itself at an optimized level.

Our skin is vital to our health. And so is our gut. Is it time for a paradigm shift to focus on the healthy flora instead of fighting the bad. They say what we focus on expands. Is it possible to reverse infection rates by a different approach?

One company, Avadim Technologies, is hoping to do just that. They refer to their product technology as bionome based, which means they have common characteristics for the eco system they are working with in. Isn’t their case, skin and muscle wellness. With a focus on immune health, muscle health, and barrier health, they hope to change global health by optimizing the eco-system of the skin, encouraging an environment for healthy flora, and bringing natural peptides to the surface. Their technologies are found in hospitals, athletic locker rooms, surgical centers, physical therapists and physicians offices, and some pharmacies.

Microbiome is the new buzz word in healthcare and wellness, as is genetic testing or genetic analysis. Dana Tiosseini, from Proderm IQ, is looking at genetic analysis to understand the human microbiome. Proderm is on a mission to understand the science behind our skin. One swab at a time, it seems they are looking to better our health industry with improved knowledge of the skins eco-system. Science is starting to take notice to an organ formerly an oddity to discuss.

Whether gut, skin, or our entire human microbiome, we need to have symbiotic and commensal pathogen bacteria (along with fungi and viruses) cohabiting. It is the bodies natural function. If we remove all good stuff when trying to defeat the bad, are we setting ourselves up for a major outbreak or epidemic of something we are not expecting?

* Source - US National Library of Medicine- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9407174