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!

Pelvic Physiotherapy 101

Have you ever wondered what pelvic physiotherapy actually is and how it helps? Our pelvic physiotherapist explains.

What are pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles found along the base of our pelvis that create the foundation of our trunk and core. They form a hammock and should have the perfect balance of tension and relaxation to be strong and support our body.

The pelvic floor muscles support our low back and hip joints, they are an important member of our core system (you can’t have a strong core without a strong pelvic floor), they support our urinary function, bowel function and sexual function, and they are closely connected to our breathing, our resting state (calm or anxious) and our emotions. 

Because the pelvic floor muscles have many different functions, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can present in many different ways and affect many different systems. 

What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic floor dysfunction is when the pelvic floor muscles cause or contribute to symptoms such as:

  • Leaking on your way to the bathroom
  • Leaking when you sneeze, cough, or laugh
  • Leaking when you run or jump or suddenly change position
  • A feeling of fullness or heaviness in the vaginal area
  • Prolapse/bulging at the vaginal opening
  • Difficulty strengthening your core muscles
  • Diastasis Recti
  • Painful intercourse
  • Constipation
  • A sudden/intense urge to pee and/or difficulty making it to the bathroom
  • Needing to pee often/planning your day around where the bathrooms are.
  • Pelvic pain
  • Tailbone pain

How does pelvic health physiotherapy help?

A pelvic health physiotherapist does a full history and physical assessment to piece together the factors that are contributing to your symptoms. The history will give a clear picture of what your symptoms are and which systems are affected.

The physical assessment will look at all the surrounding factors that impact how your pelvic floor works: from breathing, posture, movement patterns, to core and hip muscle strength and conditioning. It will also include an internal evaluation (based on your consent) to assess the specific function and mobility of your pelvic floor muscles including: pelvic floor muscle strength, tension levels (under-active/hypotonic muscles or over-active/hypertonic muscles), quality of contraction and relaxation,  scar tissue restrictions and fascial restrictions. 

This will enable the physiotherapist to develop a treatment plan with specific mobility and strengthening treatments and exercises to improve your pelvic floor function and relieve your symptoms.

What happens to the pelvic floor during pregnancy and postpartum?

You may experience many of the symptoms above during pregnancy or postpartum as your core and pelvic floor adapt to a changing body.  

For an overview of how pelvic health physiotherapy supports you to have healthy and fit pregnancy, prepares you for labour and delivery and guides your postpartum recovery, click here for our guide:

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.