Skin Microbiome as a Predictor of Health and Aging

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Just yesterday (October 12), one of the most prominent scientific journals (Nature Aging) published a very important new paper, “Associations of the skin, oral and gut microbiome with aging, frailty and infection risk reservoirs in older adults” – showing that the microbiome of the skin may play an important and under-appreciated role in predicting not only overall health, but also the trajectory of aging and the risk for frailty (note = “frailty” is described as a state of “decreased function and physiological reserves and increased risk of morbidity and mortality resulting from an accumulation of deficits” – also known as “unsuccessful” or “accelerated” aging.)

You can read the full paper HERE (fair warning – it is very complex, but also very interesting) and see some interesting excerpts highlighted below…

  • microbiome changes were not associated with chronological age so much as frailty
  • potential role particularly for the skin microbiome in disease risk 
  • The microbiome has mechanistic roles in virtually every dimension of human health overlapping considerably with aging, including cardiovascular health, cancer, infection risk and numerous other morbidities linked to metabolic and immune senescence.
  • A recent meta-analysis found that the skin microbiome was a better predictor of chronological age…
  • skin-specific patterns of pathogenicity reservoirs identified in this study may represent potential targets to improve or surveil the health of older adults.
  • Most surprising was that the broadest differences in functional and taxonomic features of older adults were found in the skin microbiota, with implications for skin, whole-body and public health.
  • attention to the skin as a potential beacon for general health. We propose a pattern characteristic of frail older adults; a Frailty-Associated Dysbiosis of the Skin (FADS)


Supporting our skin microbiome is important for the obvious benefits of helping us “look better” (acne, wrinkles, skin tone, hydration, elasticity, etc).

Also obvious – if we feel that we look our best, we feel more confident, which supports our mental wellness and how we carry ourselves.

Less obvious, but as shown in this important new study, the skin microbiome can also be an important predictor of whole-body health and successful aging.

I think the “takeaway” from this new study is that optimizing ALL our microbiomes is important – the gut for certain benefits (like mental wellness and metabolism) – the skin for other benefits (like beauty and aging) – the vaginal microbiome for even other benefits (like delivering a healthy baby and preventing postpartum depression/anxiety) – and as the science progresses, we will learn more about harnessing the oral microbiome (for not only dental benefits, but also inflammation and Alzheimer’s risk), and the lung microbiome (for prevention of respiratory infections and improvement of sports performance) – and so much more!

We are in a new science-backed age of harnessing the power of the microbiome to improve every aspect of human health, well-being, and performance. Exciting!

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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