Wrinkled aging skin

The last few years of observing people make the L. reuteri yogurt has gotten me thinking a lot about skin health and appearance. Consistent with the observations made in experimental animals by a group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, between 2013 and 2017, I believe that many, if not most, of the effects observed in animals are playing out in humans consuming the yogurt: reduced appetite; enhanced social behavior and libido; increased muscle mass and strength; and smoother, moister skin with reduction of fine wrinkles such as crow’s feet around the eyes and smile lines around the mouth.

Recall that, if we believe the experiments performed at MIT, these effects are largely mediated by an increase in the brain’s release of oxytocin. There are likely other effects mediated via L. reuteri’s unique capacity to colonize the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract and produce bacteriocins effective against fecal bacterial species, but oxytocin provocation is the likely explanation for the majority of effects.

Recall that, by making L. reuteri yogurt and ingesting something like 250-300 billion counts of bacteria per half-cup serving, we are replacing a microbe that nearly all of us have lost, given this microbe’s susceptibility to common antibiotics such as amoxicillin. Yes: that prescription for amoxicillin or other antibiotic for the upper respiratory viral illness that was casually handed to you by your doctor exacted a substantial toll on your overall health, including the eradication of important microbiome species such as  L. reuteri and many others. L. reuteri is ubiquitous in hunter-gatherer humans, mammals, and birds, suggesting that it plays an important role in health.

But this notion of replacing factors in human life that are absent or lost got me thinking about the role of some other factors that are likewise largely absent from modern life, specifically with an impact on skin. Consider that we were living, say, 100,000 years ago in Africa (before the mass human migrations out of the continent). You arise in the morning from your hut, cave, or other crude dwelling—what would you eat for breakfast? You and the other hunters in your clan would grab a spear, axe, or club and track down an animal to kill. It might take you many hours to chase down a creature, often a young or injured older animal. But you and the other hunters would kill the creature, not uncommonly tearing open the abdomen and consuming some of the stomach and intestines raw, then drag the animal back to your camp. You would then roast it over a fire, crack open the skull and consume brain, tongue, heart, thyroid, thymus, liver, kidneys, bone marrow, etc., as well as the meat and fat. The remains of the carcass would be boiled in a vessel to make soups or stews, mobilizing collagen from tendons and ligaments, as well as from any remaining organ meats such as stomach, intestines, and heart. Consuming the brain would provide you with a substantial intake of hyaluronic acid, the master moisturizer of the body: skin, joint lubrication, brain, as well as providing a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, and phosphatidylserine and other phospholipids. Four ounces of brain also yields 7 grams of hyaluronic acid. Others in your clan would gather roots, tubers, berries and other plant matter rich in a variety of polyphenols, carotenoids, and fibers.

In other words, by consuming factors lacking in the modern lifestyle, you are adding to:

  • Dermal collagen
  • Moisture content of the dermal layer
  • Sebum production (perceived as surface moisture and “glow”)
  • Protection from sunlight (UV)-induced inflammation (“sun damage”)
  • Anti-inflammatory effects from increased fatty acid production in the GI microbiome and improved intestinal barrier effects

These effects add up, for instance, to reduction of fine wrinkles and smoother, moister skin. The anti-inflammatory effects, both in skin and body-wide, are also reflected in skin appearance and health. In other words, skin looks healthier because you are healthier.

Generating improved skin health and appearance by restoring factors lacking in modern life complements the effects obtained by applying topical agents to increase dermal collagen (e.g., retinoids) or increase surface moisture (e.g., hyaluronic acid serums). Note that topical formulations do not improve overall health, only generating superficial effects. The strategies I am talking about here generate health that is reflected on the skin—there’s a difference.

The above reasoning is the rationale for the Oxiceutics Gut to Glow product that I formulated. Ideally, supplementation of the factors in Gut to Glow are taken in the context of all the other strategies I advocate that also add to skin and overall health: elimination of wheat, grains, and sugar and thereby reducing body-wide inflammation and reducing inflammatory visceral fat; supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, magnesium, and vitamin D that also add to anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effects; and addressing your disrupted microbiome to reduce endotoxemia.