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Can Probiotics Win The Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance?

We live during a pandemic in which the use of, and demand for, hand sanitizer has increased worldwide. Good hygiene, including hand washing, is a proven way to prevent illness. When hand washing is not an option, hand sanitizer gets the job done. Hand sanitizer is convenient and has become commonplace, but are we overlooking the negative implications of its overuse?

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based; these products are drying to the skin and can indirectly increase one’s risk of infection through the creation of skin disorders. Overuse can lead to skin damage, in which the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier from viruses and other pathogens is compromised. Research also confirms that the overuse of alcohol-based hand sanitizers leads to antimicrobial resistance.  Antimicrobial resistance refers to pathogens that are drug-resistant and are also known as “superbugs.”  These “superbugs” largely result from the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials, with one of the main contributors being antibiotics. The World Health Organization considers antimicrobial resistance to be one of the top ten public health threats. The use of hand sanitizer and other antimicrobial cleaners may seem helpful in the short term, but puts us as a society at great risk. 

Probiotics may be the answer to solving antimicrobial resistance. In recent years, there has been a growing interest and a plethora of research regarding the microbiome and its relationship to human health. We evolved with microbes, so it is no wonder that they are vital to our existence. Between 3,500 to 35,000 species make up the human microbiome, which spans across the entire body.  Did you know that the microbial cells that reside on the human body are at least as plentiful as the human cells? The highest concentration of microbes resides in the gut.  In fact, some researchers consider the gut microbiome to be a “second organ” due to its role in our bodily functioning.  

Research shows that microbiota are critical to immune function, vitamin and enzyme synthesis, nutrient metabolism and absorption, and many other aspects of health. The term, probiotics, refers to microbes that are beneficial to human health. Fermented foods are an easily accessible source of probiotics and include foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kvass, and kombucha among others. There are also many other probiotic products available nowadays.

Research shows that probiotics can modulate the immune system, fight off pathogens and promote health. While more research needs to be done, there is evidence of probiotics reducing incidence and severity of diseases, which suggests that they may be helpful in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.  Research has found alterations in the gut microbiome to be associated with different chronic illnesses.  Preliminary research suggests that an altered gut microbiome may be a strong predator of COVID-19. Past research has displayed that probiotics can help lessen the severity and duration of respiratory illnesses and diarrhea; some researchers believe that probiotics may be helpful in lessening the symptoms of COVID-19. 

The preventative and therapeutic use of probiotics has the potential to be a powerful tool for warding many illnesses, without creating the conditions that lead to antimicrobial resistance. Be mindful to not overuse antimicrobial products and to rely on them when necessary.  Opt for washing your hands over using hand sanitizer whenever possible, and use natural soaps, such as Edye’s Naturals, to help stop the rise of antimicrobial resistance. 

Remember to be mindful of the products you choose to put on your skin.  Conventional skincare products contain artificial preservatives, which not only can negatively impact your skin, but your overall health.  At Edye’s Naturals, we don’t compromise on our ingredients.

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