As your body’s largest organ, the health of your skin is vital to your overall well being. When you think about how your skin looks and feels, your first reaction may be to consider your skin-care routine, such as the use of face washes, lotions, and sunblocks. What you put on your skin does affect its health, but skin health is based on a number of internal factors – more specifically, what’s happening in the gut.
In fact, your outsides can be a great reflection of what’s happening inside. The health of your microbiome is displayed through your skin. Acne, eczema, dry or sensitive skin, and rashes are some common skin conditions related or that can be traced back to gut issues. So while your skin-care routine is a powerful ally in your quest for healthy skin, in many cases, you may be treating the symptom, not the underlying cause. Tending to your gut is just as important for keeping the skin healthy and vibrant.
THE GUT-SKIN AXIS
It may not seem obvious, but your skin and gut have a lot in common. They’re each neuroendocrine and immune organs that host a diverse community of microbes and work to protect the body from external pathogens. The gut and skin interact with each other, creating a biodirectional communication link known as the gut-skin axis.
As you already know, the gut processes nutrients and houses most of the bacteria in your body. It provides a semipermeable barrier to prevent potentially harmful antigens or pathogens from entering the body, while allowing for absorption of nutrients. If something irritates the gut lining, it can cause inflammation, and a stress response is triggered to fight the irritation, which can cause a leaky gut, where the usually tight barrier of the gut loosens, allowing unwanted bacteria to escape. This can create even more inflammation in the body. This inflammation, however, can become more widespread, affecting not only the gut but also your immune and nervous systems, hormones, skin, etc.
The gut communicates with the skin in a variety of ways, and gut-related skin issues can occur through multiple pathways, including diet, neurotransmitter production, hormones, and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production.
IN THE GUT, ON THE SKIN
No matter the exact method of communication, gut and skin health are closely related, and the gut microbiome can affect the skin’s appearance. There are a number of skin issues connected with gut issues:
Acne and gut health
Acne is a common skin condition that affects about 85% of young adults and adolescents.
It’s the eighth most common medical disorder around the world. Acne has been associated with an overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes as well as hypochlorhydria (low levels of stomach acid), which can cause small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and intestinal dysbiosis.
Acne has also been connected to diets with a higher glycemic load that contain more refined foods.
Acne treatments come in many forms and depend on the type of acne and age of the individual. Treatments can be topical or oral and are available in over-the counter and prescription-strength options. These medications work by treating bacterial infections or reducing oil production and typically take several weeks to see results. Retinoids, antibiotics, salicylic acid, and oral contraceptives, as well as steroid injections, drainage, or chemical peels, are additional therapies available for acne treatment. Antibiotics in general can result in microbial dysbiosis, but other side effects that can develop include sun sensitivity (retinoids and antibiotics), dry or irritated skin (retinoids and salicylic acid), redness (retinoids and salicylic acid), skin thinning (steroid), and scarring (drainage). Some treatments can even increase the risk for breast or cervical cancer (oral contraceptives).
If you’re looking for a more gut-friendly method of treating acne, try foods and drinks that are naturally rich in probiotics, like kombucha, raw sauerkraut, and yogurt with no added sugars or flavors. Wholefoods supplements can be a great addition to a wholefoods diet. Antioxidant rich ingredients, as found in
and detoxifying ingredients like chlorophyll, a key component found in
can be essential for balancing gut microbiota.
as we know nutrition has such a huge influence on our overall health, skin, nails and hair. Ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to function optimally. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are extremely important for skin health. If you struggle to get all your essential nutrients through diet alone, opt for a wholefood supplement like
that has over 65+ essential nutrients to support detoxification and remove toxic build up, to eliminate congestion in the cells which cause hormone and skin issues.
Hot tip: Foods with high glycemic loads can affect the skin, so a diet low in processed foods and added sugars can decrease the occurrence of acne.
Eczema and Gut Health
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis (AD), is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects 2%–10% of adults and 15%–30% of children.
Gut microbiota development and changes are linked to the development of AD and altered immune responses. Studies have also shown that AD sufferers have increased intestinal permeability.
Treatments for AD include moisturizers, or emollients, which help dry skin; steroids or corticosteroids, which are used to reduce redness or swelling; and antihistamines, which can help control itching. Side effects connected to all of these treatments include nausea, weight gain, high blood pressure, and kidney or liver damage.
Relief from the red, itchy skin that AD causes can also come from changes to the diet. Probiotics and prebiotics (fiber-rich foods that feed gut bacteria) have proven to be helpful. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds, are anti-inflammatory and can reduce inflammation on the skin. Additionally, foods containing quercetin, such as apples, spinach, and cherries, can reduce histamine levels.
Dry Skin, Sensitive Skin, and Rashes
Gut imbalances can also cause dry skin, rashes, and sensitivity. Some studies have shown that those with diets low in certain fatty acids can suffer from inflammatory skin issues. Typical treatments for dry skin can include moisturizers or creams with lactic acid and/or urea.
However, just as with other skin conditions, dietary changes can relieve dry or sensitive skin and rashes. Whether obtained through foods or high-quality supplements like
Daily Vitality ,
omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, mackerel, and chia seeds) and vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, mango, cod, and Atlantic salmon) help keep skin healthy, and zinc (oysters, lentils, crab, pumpkin seeds, and cashews) regulates inflammation and general skin health.
The skin and gut are intimately connected
Suffering from any skin condition can be frustrating, and the experience can strongly influence one’s overall health, emotional well-being, and self-image. Achieving optimal skin health requires a holistic approach, recognising that the skin and gut are intimately connected. While there’s no surefire way to solve gut-related skin issues, understanding how the pieces work together is an important first step in the healing process.
There are a number of ways to balance gut bacteria to improve gut health and, therefore, the health of your skin! A high fiber diet, tolerance permitting, can improve microbiome quality and limit the growth of harmful microbes. Probiotics, whether from foods or supplements, can also calm inflammation and improve the function of the gut and skin.
At The September project, we offer a range of functional tests including the Complete Microbiome Mapping test that can tell us the exact state of your gut microbiome and where any imbalances are. We can then educate you with skin conditions on the importance of diet and help you incorporate more helpful foods and crowd out those that may cause flare-ups or irritation. On top of this we give you advice and tips on stress management, sleep, hydration, exercise, and how to build in nontoxic lifestyle habits that are long term and sustainable. These practices can improve gut functioning and overall health. After all, we know that feeling healthy and fulfilled on the inside will show up on the outside as well!
As with any health concern, it’s important to consider the role of Nutrition, and lifestyle factors. If you are experiencing any skin issues, you can talk with our
Integrative Nutrition Coach
to find out what personalised tests we have available to test your Gut microbiome bacteria.
We play an important role in helping you make the connection between your habits, symptoms, and gut health. It can be eye-opening for you to realise the direct impact your lifestyle and eating habits have on the rest of your body and how simple adjustments to your routines can provide natural and effective ways to heal.
If you would like to book in for a Free 15 minute consultation to find out more about our services and how we can help please click
to book in.
Otherwise if you are ready to go and would like to start the gut healing journey, please book in for an initial Consultation with our integrative Nutrition Coach