Fermented Foods for Healthy Skin

Tateki Matsuda

October 2, 2022

Last October, American food professionals visited fermented food producers to deepen their knowledge of Japanese fermentation culture during the “Hakko Tourism in Japan” tour campaign. As part of the tour, organizers held a tasting session where guests gave candid advice from the perspective of the American market to food product manufacturers looking to enter the United States market.

The human body is a complex system that relies on many factors to function correctly. One of the most critical aspects of health is having healthy skin. While many commercial products promise to keep your skin looking young and radiant, they can often be expensive and contain harsh chemicals. A more natural way to maintain healthy skin is by incorporating fermented foods into your diet. Fermented foods are packed with beneficial bacteria that can help improve your skin’s overall health. In addition, they are low in sugar and calories, making them a good choice for people trying to lose weight or manage their blood sugar levels. So if you’re looking for a natural way to achieve healthy skin, consider adding some fermented foods to your diet.

Schematic diagram of skin structure and Schematic diagram of skin structure after aging.

(a) Schematic diagram of skin structure, (b) Schematic diagram of skin structure after aging. This picture is a comparison of the changes between young skin and aging skin.
Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/

The benefits of fermented foods for skin health

The benefits of fermented foods for skin health have been known for centuries. Fermented foods contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that help keep the skin healthy and free from acne. Probiotics help to fight off harmful bacteria and yeast, keeping the skin clear and preventing breakouts. In addition, fermented foods contain high levels of vitamins and minerals essential for healthy skin. The fermentation process also breaks down the food into smaller particles easily absorbed by the body, making it easier for the skin to receive the nutrients it needs. The fermented food is also loaded with lactic acid, which has well-documented skin benefits. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works as a natural exfoliant, dissolving the bonds between dead skin cells and revealing newer, brighter skin. Lactic acid also has hydrating properties, which can help to combat dryness and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Woman closing her eyes and touching her chins with her palms

What research says

Kefir is a fermented food that is made from milk, and it is known to be beneficial for gut health. However, kefir can also be used to improve the condition of your skin. A recent study showed that kefir intake significantly improved all skin outcomes, including hydration. The nutritional and microbial richness of kefir makes it a highly relevant food for those seeking to improve their skin health. Including kefir in your diet may help you achieve better skin health.
A study published in Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute found that kefir may help improve skin conditions, especially in those with atopic dermatitis. The study involved two groups of volunteers – one healthy and one with atopic dermatitis – who consumed kefir for eight weeks. The results showed that kefir intake resulted in a boost in barrier function in both skin types, as well as an improvement in the severity of atopic disease in the kefir group. This study suggests that consuming kefir may benefit people with atopic dermatitis, particularly by improving skin hydration. This result explains that the probiotics in kefir help to balance the bacteria on your skin, and the antioxidants can help to protect your skin from damage. Kefir also contains vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy skin.
Another interesting study published in the journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition shows that a fermented barley and soybean formula enhances skin hydration. Numerous studies have shown that isoflavone, a biologically active compound found in soybeans, can improve skin conditions. Isoflavone has multiple beneficial effects on the skin, including antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory activity, promoting collagen synthesis, and protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These effects are thought to be mediated by isoflavone’s ability to modulate the activities of key signaling molecules involved in skin health. Barley is a whole grain that is often used in brewing beer, but it can also be beneficial for your skin. Barley contains vitamins and minerals that can help improve skin condition, including vitamin C, essential for collagen production, and selenium, which provides antioxidant protection. It has long been known that barleys can positively affect the skin.
β-glucans, found in fermented barleys, improve skin elasticity and reduce inflammation. β-glucans are the active component of barley and exert beneficial effects on skin health by decreasing hyaluronidase and collagenase expression. They also stimulate collagen protein expression and reduce wrinkling in vivo and in human subjects. In addition, β-glucans help to keep the skin hydrated by trapping moisture. As a result, barleys can be an effective natural treatment for dry skin, eczema, and other skin conditions. In addition, β-glucans have been shown to stimulate the immune system, making barley an excellent choice for those looking for an all-natural way to improve their skin health.
A koji extract is a traditional Japanese ingredient that has been used in various fermented foods for centuries. In recent years, koji extract has been shown to have various health benefits, including skin and hair care. A 12-week study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology investigated the effects of koji extract on the skin of healthy females aged 30-49 years. The participants were given a supplement containing koji extract or a placebo and were monitored for 12 weeks. The results showed that koji extract significantly improved the skin conditions of the participants, including wrinkles and dryness. These findings suggest that koji extract may be an effective ingredient for anti-aging cosmetic products.

A variety of fermented foods in small plates
Tateki "Tech" Matsuda | + posts

Tateki Matsuda is the founder of Biohacker Center Japan, holding degrees in Applied Nutrition and Sports Movement Science. As a Professional MMA fighter in the UFC and health consultant in Boston, he combines his expertise in biohacking, nutrition, and athletics to optimize performance and promote holistic wellness.