Have you noticed a link between eating junk food and your skin breaking out?
Do you experience flare-ups of eczema or psoriasis when your digestive system is under strain?
Your digestive system and skin health go together, and your skin is an excellent indicator of what is going on in your gut.
In this article, we explore the gut-skin axis, a new frontier in dermatology.
What is the Skin-Gut Axis?
The “gut-skin axis” refers to the bidirectional connection between your skin and digestive system. Believe it or not, they are interconnected organs with similar functions.
Both your gut and skin play a vital role in immunity by acting as barriers against pathogens and toxins. They are rich in blood vessels and nerves, which send messages to your brain.
Your gut and skin are also home to trillions of microscopic organisms, known collectively as the microbiome. These microbes carry out a variety of functions and communicate via metabolites like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
How Gut Health Influences Your Skin
Your skin health is a window into your gut microbiome health. If your gut can't break down food, assimilate nutrients, or expel waste efficiently, it may trigger skin issues.
Unfortunately, excess alcohol, processed food, stress, environmental toxins, and antibiotics create dysbiosis and inflammation. This damages the gut barrier and stimulates the release of an inflammatory neuropeptide called substance P. In turn, it impacts your skin's barrier function.
How to Nourish Your Gut-Skin Axis
Lifestyle changes that support good digestive function are the same things that promote healthy, glowing skin. You need to nourish your gut to improve your skin.
Here are some of our top tips to enhance the gut-skin connection:
1. Identify Food Sensitivities
If you consistently eat foods that cause gut inflammation, it's difficult for your body to heal (no matter how many other healing interventions you use). It also impacts the gut-skin connection.
We suggest keeping a food diary to identify which foods trigger gut and skin symptoms. Some common culprits are dairy, gluten, soy, fried foods, highly processed foods, and refined sugar. However, it’s not always so obvious. You may benefit from an elimination diet with the help of your healthcare provider.
2. Eat More Prebiotic-Rich Foods
Research shows a diet rich in plant foods reduces acne. This is because plants are a source of prebiotic fiber, which support a healthy and diverse microbiome in your gut and on your skin.
Prebiotics are a source of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which feed your gut microbiome. They help the "good" guys proliferate and produce essential metabolites to maintain a healthy skin pH and reduce gut inflammation.
The best prebiotic foods are bananas, oats, asparagus, artichokes, onions, apples, and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.
3. Get Quality Sleep
Sleep is essential for your body and brain to consolidate, repair, regenerate, and detoxify. Poor sleep spells disaster for your energy, mood, productivity, appetite, and every system in your body. It is also associated with gut microbiome dysfunction and poor skin health.
You can support your internal and external microbiomes by prioritizing quality sleep. Get to bed by 10 pm, avoid bright screens before bed, create a relaxing sleep routine, make your bedroom dark, and (if necessary) use natural supplements to get into a deep sleep each night.
Bonus tip: Exercising in the early part of the day can rebalance your circadian rhythm and help you sleep at night.
4. Look After Your Skin Barrier
Your skin is a sensitive organ home to an ecosystem of microbes (you probably have more microbes than skin cells).
This means you should be super careful about what you apply to this barrier. Harsh soaps, toners, and antimicrobial creams irritate the skin and destroy the microbiome.
Instead, use gentle, pH-balanced skin products that support the microbiome instead of killing it. We also suggest looking into probiotic-rich skincare that replenishes the microbiome barrier.
5. Take a quality probiotic
Our last (but perhaps most important) tip for supporting your gut-skin axis is to take a quality probiotic to repopulate the microbiome. Probiotics are a source of live bacteria that promote microbial diversity.
However, the key is to use a tested product that guarantees live bacterial strains.
The gut-skin axis is a complex connection that helps to maintain overall health when it works well.
Taking care of your gut health by focusing on the basics – diet, stress management, quality sleep, and supporting your microbiome – is the first step towards smooth, glowing skin.
Your skin (and the rest of your body) will thank you for following these tips!