Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

How to protect and restore your skin bacteria

What is the skin biome

Skin biome upset

AOB (Ammonia oxidizing bacteria)

AOB are the secret to a healthier skin

How to protect the bacteria already in your skin biome

How to restore bacteria into your skin biome

What is the skin biome

Every adult has more than two kilograms (four pounds) of microorganisms in their digestive tract, on their skin, in the eyes, ears, nose, genitals and throughout the body. This biome of microorganisms is absolutely essential for you good physical and mental health. You need them for proper digestion, for the production of many vitamins and other nutrients, for protection from harmful microorganisms, and for the working of many systems in the body, particularly your immune system.

People who had a vaginal birth (as opposed to a C-section), who were breast fed, who grew up on a farm, who had pets, who were allowed to root around on the ground as young children, and most importantly, who were never given any antibiotics, tend to be slim, happy, healthy and have excellent immune systems. Children who had antibiotics and who grew up in clean, protected environments tend to have weak immune systems, and suffer from numerous modern diseases ranging from asthma to allergies to digestive problems to eczema to autism.

For many years, I have recommended that you eat a variety of probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, rejuvelac and natto miso. A probiotic-rich diet helps correct the damage, strengthen your digestion and immune system, and get things back to a healthy normal.

In the same way that our gut requires a healthy balance of bacteria and other microorganisms, the skin has an elaborate ecosystem called the skin biome. Our skin biome starts the moment we are born, passed down to us from our mothers, and is constantly evolving throughout our lives from our environment, interaction with animals, soil, plants and lifestyle. However, the way we live today makes it difficult for many beneficial microorganisms to survive on the skin. Chlorinated water, washing with soap, obsession with cleanliness and sterility, modern hygiene and lifestyles strip the skin of its natural biome. Urban living has made it difficult for us to maintain or re-establish beneficial skin bacteria that we would be regularly exposed to in nature or living as hunter-gatherers.

Skin biome upset

Here are some of the skin diseases caused by a bacterial and fungal imbalance of the skin biome:

AOB (Ammonia oxidizing bacteria)

Ammonia oxidizing bacteria include Nitrosomonas, Nitrosococcus, Nitrobacter, Nitrococcus and others. They get their energy from the oxidation of inorganic nitrogen compounds. We need them on our skin because they convert ammonia, urea and other nitrogen-containing skin irritants into beneficial nitric oxide and nitrites. Nitrites help keep harmful bacteria in check and nitric oxide is an antioxidant that helps reduce any skin inflammation and keep the skin healthy.

Sweat contains urea and ammonia, and if there is not sufficient AOB on the skin, these irritants can become quite concentrated. Nearly all of the skin can sweat, with the highest density of sweat glands being on the scalp, underarms, palms, groin and feet.

AOB are a truly beneficial group of skin bacteria. I could not find any reports of AOB infection causing any kind of illness or disease. They are not virulent - quite the opposite. The amount of sweat the body produces naturally regulates their population. Without enough sweat in a given area, the AOBs will die (sadly). The regulation of their numbers by your own sweat production keeps them strictly in check.

AOB are particularly sensitive to chemicals found in today's soaps, detergents, personal care products and preservatives. A single wash using a modern soap can wipe out all the AOB on the body part washed. People who regularly lather themselves all over are probably totally deficient in all AOB. There are plenty of scientific studies confirming that people who regularly and thoroughly use soap have all kinds of skin problems.

In previous generations, our ancestors did not use soaps and other products as frequently as we do today (if they used them at all). In the old days if they did use a soap and wipe out the AOB, they were quickly replaced. Most people lived and worked on the soil as there were many more farmers in previous generations. Even those living in towns and cities had a garden out the back, so healthy lifestyles working and playing outside soon replaced the AOB.

AOB are the secret to a healthier skin

AOB are one of the most important components of a healthy skin biome but unfortunately, the widespread use of soaps, deodorants and other personal care products along with excessive hygiene has wiped out most of these sensitive and easily-destroyed bacteria. The key to a healthy skin is restoring your skin biome back to a native, healthy state.

AOB are also required to help balance the ecosystem of your skin as a whole. They are so influential that they only need to be present in small numbers to have a check and balance effect on your skin's entire microbial ecosystem.

How to protect the bacteria already in your skin biome

How to restore bacteria into your skin biome

One way to get healthy bacteria and other microorganisms on your skin is by regularly working in an established garden. Getting healthy soil on your hands and feet and not being too hasty about scrubbing it off is a good start. Hopefully the soil is organic and healthy.

With all the interest in the microbiome at present, almost every university is busy investigating the health properties of different bacteria and fungi. They are also starting to discover and select the bacteria that have important and useful properties. One day in the not too distant future, you will be able to take a dose of bacteria to treat nearly any disease. For example, if you had a dose of pink eye (conjunctivitis) rather than taking antibiotic eye drops, you would take probiotic eye drops that contain the bacteria from a healthy eye. (Note: the quickest, most effective treatment for pink eye, getting the most votes on the Grow Youthful list of ailments, is apple cider vinegar).

The first probiotic skin spray with added skin bacteria is now available. You can spray it onto your skin to treat a wide range of conditions that are caused by an imbalance or damage to the skin biome. However, it is stupidly expensive and only contains a very limited range of bacteria. At this stage you are better off by getting down to it in the garden, digging in your vegetable patch, and following the rest of the advice above.