We frequently talk about gut health and how it is intertwined with numerous processes within the body and this week’s Nutrition News goes further by covering studies and research that link gut health and probiotics with healthy skin and even reversing the ageing process.

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Probiotics’ role in ageing and skin support

Probiotics, and their effect on gut health, have been linked to a range of positive effects on the body. Just as scientists are being urged to treat the microbiome as its own organ, further research is being published that supports the theory of gut health playing a major role in ageing and skin support.

One recent study, as reported by NutraIngredients, found that a plant-based diet teamed with probiotic supplementation, lactobacillus plantarum specifically, reduced biological age by as much as three years. The combination of a plant centred diet and the probiotic appeared to alter DNA methylation, which is a mechanism used to assess the rate of ageing. According to the study, the participants on the treatment group scored an average of 3.23 years younger than the participants in the control group at the end of the eight week program. The results are promising, although further research is needed to further establish the role of probiotics in healthy ageing as the treatment group had a high intake of a range of nutrients, including folate, betaine, vitamin C and vitamin A, among others.

In addition to this study, a separate paper has been published on the effects of probiotics on skin health. Researchers from Kyung Hee University completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised study involving 23 participants between the ages of 19 and 39 years old. They found that after 12 weeks of supplementation with the probiotic lactobacillus plantarum, acne lesion count reduced and skin hydration increased in the test group compared to those in the control.

The health benefits of black pepper

Black pepper and its alkaloid piperine, which gives pepper its pungency, is well regarded as a antioxidant but this article by Medical News Today covers some of the lesser known health benefits of this powerful compound.

The antioxidant effects of piperine can help lessen the damage caused to the body by reactive oxygen species (ROS), previously known as free radicals. ROS are unstable molecules that can damage cells; the body creates ROS both naturally and in response to environmental stresses. In addition to its antioxidant properties, black pepper and piperine are believed to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

As well as holding these important compounds, piperine is often used in supplementation in conjunction with other popular supplement ingredients, such as turmeric and piperine, as the piperine is known to enhance the curcumin absorption in the body. This is because piperine has shown to increase nutrient absorption as well as support gut health in regulating intestinal microbiota.

Never too early to begin healthy eating habits

As adults we know the importance of eating a healthy, well rounded diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, but few may be aware of the importance of establishing these healthy eating habits early in life. Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre in Brazil found that encouraging healthy eating practices to pregnant women meant that their children consumed less fats and carbohydrates at three years old. This led to lower measures of body fat when the children reached six years old.

Speaking of the research, study author, Caroline N. Sangalli said in this article, "The first year after birth is a critical window for the establishment of habits that will influence health patterns throughout one's lifetime”. The research suggests that feeding practices early in life can have a significant impact on the health and weight of pre-school children.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.