Last week, I introduced the concept of the skin biome: the vast communities of microbes living on and in our skin. For some, it was unsettling. Gut microbes are out of sight, out of mind. But skin microbes are on us. They’re crawling, reproducing, digesting, and secreting various fluids and lipids all over the surface of our bodies. In people who’ve been conditioned to use soap and water to remove every last trace of bacteria from our hands and skin, the idea that our hands, faces, arms, and torsos are teeming with microbes – and that it’s probably unwise to remove them all – is hard to swallow. We might even recoil at the thought. I mean, viruses and mites living on us? Really?

Yeah. And we need them to be healthy and vibrant because skin bacteria help determine our skin’s immune response, vulnerability to allergies, wound healing, and susceptibility to certain skin diseases, to name just a few things they do for us.

We have a pretty good idea how to cultivate a healthy gut biome. We may not know everything (and we probably never will), but fermented foods, prebiotic fibers, and nutrient-dense fat, protein, and carbohydrate sources are a good start.

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Last week, I introduced the concept of the skin biome: the vast communities of microbes living on and in our skin. For some, it was unsettling. Gut microbes are out of sight, out of mind. But skin microbes are on us. They’re crawling, reproducing, digesting, and secreting various fluids and lipids all...