Forget about anti-aging creams. If you want to have a real impact on skin health and slow or reverse myriad aging effects, start thinking about strategies that work on the inside of your body with effects reflected on the skin. The grain-free lifestyle that is the foundation of the Undoctored and Wheat Belly programs is at the top of the list. Just take a look at the dramatic improvements in skin tone, color, texture, health, and reversal of edema that people share in photos.
But there is more you can do. I’ve previously discussed how collagen hydrolysates, or obtaining more collagen by slow-cooking fibrous cuts of meat and consuming the skin of poultry and fish, are ways to increase dietary collagen (and derivatives) that increase skin collagen and joint lubricant and cartilage. But there is another, new addition to our list of powerful youth-preserving, anti-aging strategies: the hormone oxytocin.
Until recently, oxytocin was thought to be a hormone relevant only to childbirth and breastfeeding. It is routinely administered intravenously to pregnant mothers, for example, to induce labor, since it stimulates uterine contraction and cervical relaxation required for delivery of a newborn. This hormone, produced in the brain’s hypothalamus, is known to be an important mediator of mental/emotional effects involved in parenting, social bonding, empathy, affection, and modulating the emotional ebb and flow of long-term relationships. Accordingly, oxytocin administration is under investigation to treat conditions including autism, anxiety disorder, depression, drug abuse, schizophrenia, and even to work through marital difficulties during counseling.
Newer studies, however, are revealing myriad effects of oxytocin that extend far beyond that of emotional bonding and uterine effects. It is also proving to affect body composition, appetite, weight, the status of other hormones, bone health, skin health and other aspects of human physiology.
Oddly, at the center of these new revelations about oxytocin is a probiotic bacterial species, Lactobacillus reuteri. L. reuteri is a known inhabitant of the human gastrointestinal tract that mediates a number of health benefits. Administered to infants, for instance, and it reduces infantile colic and regurgitation. If administered to people taking antibiotics, it reduces the likelihood of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostrium difficile enterocolitis, a serious complication of antibiotic usage. It also helps suppress H. pylori, the organism underlying stomach ulcers, and E. coli-related infections. Oddly, it has also been found to increase blood levels of 25-OH-vitamin D by 25%, yielding an effective intake of 1000 to 2000 units vitamin D per day. When L. reuteri is administered to humans, it colonizes not just the colon, but the stomach and small intestine, as well, which is unusual for a bowel flora inhabitant, suggesting benefits outside of the colon. No adverse effects have been observed in any of these studies.
Some of the newest insights into the potential effects of oxytocin come from an elegant series of experiments in mice conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They have catalogued an impressive list of health effects experienced with increased levels of oxytocin achieved by increasing the intestinal population of L. reuteri. Among the effects observed are:
Greater hair thickness (greater number of hair folllicles) and sebum production
Dramatically greater dermal and overall skin thickness
Dramatically increased collagen deposition in skin
More rapid wound healing (healing time cut in half), a means of assessing skin health and youthfulness
Marked increase in Leydig cells in the testicles of males and resultant several-fold higher serum testosterone levels
Animals remained slender and youthful, even into old age, compared to control animals that became obese and showed the behavioral decline of aging
Reversal of age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia)
100% increase in oxytocin blood levels
The last effect—-doubled oxytocin levels—-can be expected, given what we know about oxytocin’s effects, to increase bone density, increase muscle mass, reduce appetite, improve skin health, facilitate weight loss, as well as improve the quality of personal relationships.
Although these observations were made in mice, the acceleration of wound healing effect has been reproduced in humans, an effect mediated by oxytocin, suggesting that the increased oxytocin phenomenon of L. reuteri applies to humans, as well. Oxytocin exerts a potent anorexigenic effect, i.e., a reduction or loss of interest in food, that can be used to facilitate weight loss or periods of fasting. A separate Chinese study was recently conducted in which volunteers were administered 24 units of oxytocin intranasally over 8 weeks with no change in diet or exercise. Over eight weeks, volunteers taking oxytocin lost 19.8 pounds compared to the placebo group, an unprecedented and powerful effect. There is reduced interest in carbohydrate snacking, in particular. The weight loss effects of oxytocin exceed the drop in calorie intake, suggesting that there are effects on energy usage and other effects that facilitate weight loss.
Put all the effects of increased oxytocin together and it appears that substantial age-reversing or youth-preserving phenomena are possible.
How to accomplish increased oxytocin levels? One way would be to mimic the MIT experience and include the probiotic species, L. reuteri, in your probiotic supplement efforts, using the same strain used in the studies (strain ATCC PTA 6475—the strains chose are crucial, as not all strains share all these effects). The dose used in humans that yielded improved wound healing was 100 million CFUs twice per day with results observed within several days. To amplify the CFUs and thereby the effects of L. reuteri, however, we have been making yogurt using L. reuteri as the starting fermenting agent with added inulin to generate higher bacterial counts (billions to trillions). Anecdotally, consumption of even a modest quantity of this yogurt, e.g., 2-4 tablespoons, is associated with complete lack of appetite, even an aversion to food, that lasts 4-6 hours, an effect that is likely due to the rapid increase in oxytocin.
We have been discussing all these issues in our Undoctored Inner Circle Virtual Meetups and have just released a detailed Oxytocin Advanced Topic on why and how to accomplish all this, complete with a video overview. Come join the Inner Circle conversation if you’d like to join these discussions.