Meet the good bacteria that keeps your gut, body, and skin functioning smoothly
Probiotic foods have become the latest popular health trend due to the growing body of evidence that suggests it can do wonders to your body. Etymologically, the term ‘probiotics’ was derived from Greek to mean “for life”. However, in scientific layman’s terms, it refers to ‘good bacteria’ or live microorganisms that have health benefits when consumed by the body. The benign bacteria present in probiotic foods aid the body in maintaining a good digestive system, improving absorption of nutrients, strengthening immunity, and even ensuring skin is healthy and radiant.
Our skin can benefit from these good bacteria massively. The layers of our skin harbour a variety of bacterial communities that play an important role in protection against harmful pathogens and external aggressors, known as the skin microbiome. Regular consumption of probiotic foods that naturally contain the good bacteria are very beneficial to maintaining healthy skin. Once these probiotic foods are introduced to our gut through digestion, they begin functioning optimally and a healthy gut ensures that less toxicity is absorbed into the bloodstream.
As for healthy skin specifically, probiotic foods optimize the healing benefits of our skin’s good bacteria. Imbalances in the gut microbiome lead to a host of problems in the body. Skin concerns such as acne and inflammation are more often than not manifestations of these imbalances deep within the body. Hence, it is necessary to keep a check on the bad bacteria and restore balance, this is where the role of probiotics come in. They are also said to reinforce the skin’s natural defences against bad bacteria, free radical damage, pollution, and other external and internal aggressors. In light of this, let’s explore some probiotic foods that can give you healthy skin.
Perhaps the most popular probiotic food in India, “dahi” or curd/yoghurt is an excellent source for getting those good bacteria into your gut. Yoghurt is rich in a strain of bacteria known as the lactobacillus and as such, supports the gut in healthy digestion. This directly manifests on the skin. A lot of homemade DIY face masks also include yoghurt as an ingredient. When applied topically, it boosts collagen production in the skin giving it a youthful glow. It’s a staple food that’s widely used in most Indian households and is a natural source of your daily probiotic intake.
- Cottage cheese (paneer)
Although most cheese types are fermented, not all of them contain probiotics. However, cottage cheese (also known as ‘paneer’) is a rich source of probiotics. It contains several active cultures that help diversify the gut’s microbiome. Again, it is quite a common food item in several parts of the country and can be easily included in the diet as a probiotic source.
- Sourdough bread
Unlike other types of bread, sourdough bread is made from lactobacillus, which is a strain of good bacteria. This helps the bread rise without any added ingredients. As such, sourdough bread is a healthier alternative to regular breads and is a great source of probiotic food, which is great for the gut and ultimately for healthy skin.
Interestingly, one of the most common food items in the subcontinent is made from fermented rice and lentils. As a fermented-based food, it is another excellent probiotic for healthy skin as it enhances the ability of the body to absorb nutrients.
Naturally fermented pickles are a rich source of probiotic foods that aid in healthy skin. It is however important to note the way they are brined affects the probiotic level. If made with vinegar, the growth of good bacteria is prohibited. Instead, it is best to opt for a saltwater brine. Pickles are easy accompaniments to any meal and a great source of probiotic food for healthy skin. It is recommended to make pickles at home rather than buying canned ones that may contain unwanted ingredients.
Given the variety of probiotic foods that are naturally available and can be easily consumed, it is recommended to start incorporating them into your diet. Not only do probiotics help your digestion and gut functioning, but their overall benefit is reflected on glowing, healthy skin.