According to Canadian scientists, being exposed to “good bacteria” early in life could prevent asthma developing.
The research team, reporting in Science Translational Medicine, were analyzing the billions of bugs that naturally call the human body home.
Their analysis of 319 children showed they were at higher risk of asthma if four types of bacteria were missing.
Experts said the “right bugs at the right time” could be the best way of preventing allergies and asthma.
In the body, bacteria, fungi and viruses outnumber human cells 10 to one, and this “microbiome” is thought to have a huge impact on health.
The specialists, at the University of British Columbia and the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, compared the microbiome at three months and at one year with asthma risk at the age of three.
Children lacking four types of bacteria – Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia (Flvr) – at three months were at high risk of developing asthma at the age of three, based on wheeze and skin allergy tests.
The same effect was not noticed in the microbiome of one-year-olds, suggesting that the first few months of life are crucial.
Further experiments showed that giving the bacterial cocktail to previously germ-free mice reduced inflammation in the airways of their pups.
One of the researchers, Dr. Stuart Turvey, said: “Our longer-term vision would be that children in early life could be supplemented with Flvr to look to prevent the ultimate development of asthma
“I want to emphasize that we are not ready for that yet, we know very little about these bacteria, [but] our ultimate vision of the future would be to prevent this disease.”
Asthma is caused by airways that are more sensitive to irritation and inflammation.
One explanation for the rise in asthma and allergies is the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests that children are no longer exposed to enough microbes to calibrate the immune system to tell the difference between friend and foe.
Giving birth by Caesarean section and not breast-feeding both limit the bacteria that are passed to a newborn. Antibiotics taken by a pregnant woman or newborn child can also change the microbiome.
Dr. Brett Finlay, another researcher in the project, said: “[I was] surprised to realize that fecal microbes may be influencing things.
“What data’s really starting to show these days is that the immune system gets itself set up in the gut and influences how it works everywhere else in the body.”
New studies suggest that upping the “good” bacteria in our skin is essential for our immune system and can also combat wrinkles, sagging and pigmentation.
Just as good bacteria in your gut can calm your stomach, boosting levels of it on your skin can restore your complexion’s youthful plumpness and glow.
The beneficial bugs work on the surface to maintain moisture and radiance and fight the bad bacteria that cause redness, sensitivity, spots and other infections.
The bacteria also penetrate the deeper levels to repair skin DNA and build wrinkle-preventing collagen. So it’s not surprising that skincare companies are getting on the bug bandwagon, with a host of ranges containing ingredients to increase “beauty bacteria”.
Just as good bacteria in your gut can calm your stomach, boosting levels of it on your skin can restore your complexion’s youthful plumpness and glow
First off the blocks are Aromatherapy Associates, which has just launched a new line of soothing skincare that is rich in prebiotics, which encourage the growth of good bacteria.
Next week, skincare brand NUDE, whose fans include supermodel Helena Christensen, will re-launch its skincare with an anti-ageing ingredient called n-probiotic, a live micro-organism derived from yeast.
These smart bacteria stimulate the skin to produce its own anti-ageing collagen and hyaluronic acids. It is claimed that in lab tests this probiotic reduced cellular damage by up to 50%, reduced irritation by up to 35% and activated cellular renewal by up to 70%.
Next month will also see the arrival of Idealia from French brand Vichy. Idealia serum and creams contain a probiotic derived from fermented tea. The company claims it can create “ideal skin” by reducing dark spots and wrinkles, improving texture and boosting radiance.
These are big boasts, yet there is serious science to back up the buzz about bugs. The 2011 Nobel Prize went to a team who showed how skin bacteria act as an important immune system for the body. Further studies have shown that probiotics can improve eczema and fight off acne-causing bacteria.
Professor Richard Tester, a research scientist at Glasgow Caledonian University, is conducting studies with the prebiotic GMH (glucomannan hydrolysate), which is derived from a type of yam. His soon-to-be published studies show GMH can promote skin healing and treat acne.
“Because this prebiotic can penetrate the skin surface, it also helps regenerate skin from within, rebuilding collagen, reducing wrinkles and bringing back its natural glow,” he says.
However, this is not an excuse to stop cleansing – if we did, we’d be left with several hundred types of “bad” bacteria on our faces, living off our sweat, sebum and dead skin cells. When this happens, our skin becomes irritated so in response the body creates free radicals and a collagen-digesting enzyme. The result? Wrinkles and sagging.
Unlike traditional treatments for wrinkles and acne – such as retinols and benzoyl peroxide, which irritate the skin – bacteria beauty boosters are very gentle.