Integrative Family Health Clinic in Bolton and the Greater Caledon Area
4-22 Simona Drive
Bolton, ON

Do Probiotics Help for Clear Skin?

Probiotics are live, active microorganisms like bacteria and yeast that are naturally occurring in the body. When dysbiosis or infection occurs, harmful microbes propagate and flourish while our “friendly microbes” that keep us healthy, die off. This can cause an array of problems ranging from gas and bloating, to reduced immune function, and even skin concerns. Yes, the skin! Acne, eczema and psoriasis or plain old itchy skin and bumpy rashes can be a result of changes in your microbial composition.

Although probiotics are typically used to support gastrointestinal health, recent studies have shown that introducing probiotic rich foods and supplementation may also benefit the skin. Incorporating probiotics as part of a whole-person, professional-led plan may positively impact the gut-skin relationship and provide relief for stubborn dermatological disorders.

The Microbiome-Skin Connection

Similar to the digestive system, the skin harbours a complex ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses which each serve a very important purpose. Our bodies constantly exchange microbes with our environment and our microbes may change with hormones fluctuations or with age. This “skin microbiome” has been known to impact our gut microbiome in many ways through what researchers call the gut-skin axis. 

For instance, disruptions in the gut microbiome can trigger an immune response and the release of inflammatory mediators that then disrupt skin physiology. What does that look like? Irritated, angry skin!

Probiotics and Skin Conditions 

Different probiotic strains confer different effects on the skin environment, so knowing what strains to pick can be crucial when shopping for your probiotic. For instance, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium can help mediate skin inflammation and are great for conditions like atopic or allergic contact dermatitis. If you want to be even more specific, Lactobacillus acidophilus is great for rosacea since it has a calming effect and can soothe irritation or redness of the skin. 

When in doubt, opting for a broad-spectrum probiotic with a variety of strains is a great option to ensure you are covering your bases. A broad-spectrum probiotic is a supplement with multiple strains of beneficial microbes. 

If you have any of the following concerns listed below, probiotics may be a helpful option for you to consider:

      • Acne
      • Eczema
      • Psoriasis
      • Rosacea
      • Hives
      • Dermatitis
      • Wound healing
      • Wrinkles
      • Scleroderma

Probiotics and Acne

Acne can be caused by dietary triggers, stress, sleep disruptions, androgens, and more. Though probiotics can benefit many cases of acne, not all acne is rooted in the digestive system. Furthermore, probiotics as a stand-alone treatment might not be enough to treat severe, cystic, treatment-resistant acne. It’s important to set expectations and know that probiotics can be a great part of a treatment when choosing the right dose, the right strains, and the right delivery. 

So what does that mean? What does the research say? Well, probiotics have been studied in patients with mild-moderate acne and have been shown to successfully improve the skin’s clarity and reduce breakouts.

We know that the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes lives on the skin and can cause acne (along with other bacteria). The wonderful thing about probiotics is that it can help control the growth of these acne-causing bacteria through the gut-skin axis. These helpful microbes have antibacterial proteins and substances that kill off bad bacteria and reduce inflammation on the skin—a win-win!

Recent trials show that both oral and topical probiotics may have a positive effect on the skin. One of the main advantages to taking an oral probiotic is that it can help influence the intestinal microbiota and it can also work on metabolic pathways involving insulin. In addition, the vast majority of the research on probiotics has been using oral formulations rather than the topical preparations. For this reason, one might be more inclined to use an oral supplement or probiotic rich foods rather than applying probiotics in a cream or gel form.

Probiotic-rich foods that you may want to consider for clear skin include:

      • Yogurt
      • Kefir
      • Sauerkraut
      • Kimchi
      • Miso
      • Tempeh
      • Kombucha

Naturopathic Care and Skin Health

Addressing skin health can be complex and probiotics may not be that silver bullet for you. It’s important to consider all of the factors that contribute to our digestive, hormonal, immune, and skin health before jumping blindly towards treatments that may or may not work. 

Part of working with a naturopathic doctor is getting a holistic perspective on how each system of the body influences the next. Without addressing the foundations of health like exercise, sleep, diet, and stress it’s hard for any treatment to work effectively. The body and the mind need to work together in harmony.

My work as a naturopathic doctor involves an in-depth intake and comprehensive testing, where appropriate, to narrow down the root cause of your skin concern. Through this process, I can help develop a targeted treatment plan that supports the gut-skin axis through herbs, acupuncture, supplements, and food. Using my expertise I can also help guide you away from products that may be worsening your skin or failing to address what’s really going on. Or, I may swap out certain probiotic strains for others to ensure that we are using evidence-based recommendations for the best possible outcome. Ultimately, there are a lot of treatments for clear skin out there, but knowing which one is right for you may require some help.

If you are interested in starting your journey towards healthy, clear skin,
then book in to learn more!

How to Perfect Your Spring-Summer Detox 

Detox, detox, detox.  

Detoxing has become quite the fad, both online and in the health community. Many of us think that we need to be on a plethora of detox supplements or laxatives and that we need to be doing long hours (sometimes days) of fasting in order to do it “properly” and to “cleanse” our systems completely of all waste and toxins.  

But here’s the reality of it: Yes, those things may help accelerate the process. Yes, they may help in the short term. But that is not all of what a detox is, and it is important to note they’re not always the safest either, especially not for long periods of time. As a naturopathic doctor, I would highly advise doing these under direct supervision of your health care  provider.  

What’s a Detox? 

A true detox involves supporting our essential detox organs, which are our:  

These organs help to eliminate toxins, waste, and hormones (and hormone byproducts, called metabolites) from the body. They help filter out the “good” from the “not so good.” However, these organs can become “sluggish” or  backed up (i.e. not functioning optimally) when there is a large toxic load, which can be due to poor lifestyle choices or high environmental exposures.  

Common signs and symptoms of your detox organs not functioning optimally include:  

      • Fatigue  
      • Water retention or swelling  
      • Bloating  
      • Digestive upset  
      • Constipation  
      • Chronic cough  
      • Getting sick frequently  
      • Excess congestion
      • Allergies and sensitivities
      • Skin concerns  
      • Increased acne or breakouts  
      • Increased pain or inflammation  
      • Brain fog  
      • Weight loss or gain  
      • Hormonal concerns, etc. 

Many of us may experience one or more of the above symptoms. Note that we can easily support these detox organs in our day-to-day life through nutrition, lifestyle, supplements, and with botanical medicine as well.  

Top Tips for Supporting Detoxification

The top 7 things to remember when doing your yearly detox:  

      1. Drink enough water! This can be up to 2-3 litres, depending on the individual.  
      2. Increase your vegetable and whole foods intake. Reduce processed foods!
      3. Increase protein and healthy fats.  Swap out for more plant-proteins, olive oil, and avocado oil.
      4. Eliminate alcohol, smoking, sugar, caffeine, and coffee.  
      5. Increase exercise, and encourage daily sweating – whether with movement or a sauna.
      6. Prioritize sleep, and ensure you are getting at least 7–8 hours of well rested sleep everyday. 
      7. Manage your stress — do something that helps you relax everyday!  

These are the foundations of health, and are essential to maintaining a healthy body, and supporting our detoxification systems. The reality is, if we do not optimize our food, our movement, our sleep and our stress, no amount of detoxing or products from the health food store will do us any good. If anything, the effects will be short-lived, and you will be back to feeling unwell soon after.

We are what we consume, and this applies to our food and what we ingest, but also to what we consume socially, from the media, from our relationships and from any such negativity or toxicity in our  lives too.  

I encourage you to be mindful and try the tips above. Notice how you feel after doing so for 1–2 weeks, and the impact it has had on your daily life and functioning.

If you have any other questions on how to support your body or health via naturopathic medicine or botanical medicine, feel free to  book a free 15 minute discovery call with me.  

Let’s work to restore your health in all aspects — mentally, emotionally and physically! 

Wishing you all nothing but good health and positive energy. 

5 easy tips for better digestion

Digestion can be over complicated or very simple to deconstruct. Before you diagnose yourself with some rare digestive disease by Dr. Google give these easy tips a try!

Chew your food

Digestion starts in the mouth! Even as you’re reading this and thinking of cookies your mouth is salivating. Saliva is a combination of enzymes, electrolytes and proteins that start the process of digestion before food even gets into the stomach. Chewing physically makes your food into smaller pieces and also allows for saliva to be mixed into the food.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] You don’t need to count the amount of chewing per bite but the food should be mush before you swallow.


Relaxed eating

The process of digestion is most effective when you are in a relaxed mood. Relaxed eating engages the rest-and-digest nervous system (aka parasympathetic nervous system) which allows your stomach to release digestive enzymes.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Limit eating on the go, take a seat, look at your food and chew slowly!


Thirst – hunger signals

It’s a well known phenomenon that hunger and thirst signals can get crossed in your brain. Your hypothalamus, the portion of your brain responsible for controlling feelings of hunger and thirst, responds similarly whether you’re thirsty or if you haven’t had enough to eat. Meaning that you may feel hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Many of us are over eating and under hydrating as a result.

[bt_highlight]Solution:[/bt_highlight] When you feel hungry drink 1/2-1 glass of water. If after 20 minutes you’re still hungry then grab a bite to eat! If the hunger dissipated it means that you were actually thirsty/dehydrated and you should up your daily water intake.


Meal timing

Body hack: your digestion works best when it runs on a schedule. Your brain and digestive organs are connected enough to figure out when to expect meals and therefore when to send out the digestive juices. This is why many people report that they get acid reflux when they eat late at night or that they have bloating after meals.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Try your best to eat your meals at the same time everyday!


Understand your GI transit time

The time it takes food to go from into your mouth and out the other end is called the GI transit time. Optimal digestion takes between 12-24 hours. Anything more or less can tell us whether you are absorbing nutrient and if toxins are properly eliminated.

[bt_highlight]Solution: [/bt_highlight] Here’s how to test your bowel transit time.

Eat a large serving of beets (at least 1 cup of cooked beets)
Record when you ate the beets
Over the next hours check your stool! When you notice your stool is the colour of the red beets, you’ve figured out your transit time.

More than 24 hours: A transit time that exceeds 24 hours may mean your bowels are not eliminating and stool is sitting in your colon for too long. This can lead to a toxic bowel, which can eventually lead to colon disease and a body that is overloaded with toxins. You may need more fibre (from sources like fruits, vegetables, chia and ground flaxseeds), water, relaxation techniques, and daily movement to get your bowels moving regularly. Additionally , your nutritionist or naturopathic doctor can recommend specific dosages of key digestive supplements where necessary.

Less than 12 hours: This is less common but can mean that you’re not really absorbing all the nutrients from your food or you could have too many stimulants in your daily life, like coffee.


Bottom line

You need to do the basics before your health practitioner considers any other functional disease. If you’re already doing these simple tips and still experiencing digestive issues then you may need further testing. Food sensitivity or GIMAP tests are a functional medicine approach to treat many digestive concerns. Speak to your naturopathic doctor for more options.