We’ve all heard the phrase you are what you eat, but this might be truer than you think regarding skin and gut health. Our digestive system and the food we eat have a profound impact on the health and complexion of our skin.
Yes, that bar of chocolate or slice of cake can have an impact on your skin as well as your waistline. A poor diet equals bad skin. It's frustrating, but it's true. Filling your bodies with fatty, sugary, greasy foods won't help you achieve the healthy skin you desire— even if you're using the best, natural products on the market!
The good news is that there's a science behind skin quality and gut health. By understanding how our skin and diet are related, we can leverage what we eat to satisfy our body's largest organ and our stomachs.
How are digestion and skin health related?
Over seventy percent of your body's immune cells are in the gut. Recent studies showing the influence of the gut on bodily function have garnered it the reputation of being akin to a second brain.
Inside the gut are hundreds of naturally occurring bacteria. Some of these bacterias are healthy or 'good', whereas others are 'bad' and contribute to developing diseases. An unhealthy gut, full of bad bacteria, will be evident in the appearance of the skin due to the gut-skin axis.
The gut-skin axis
The skin-gut axis stems from the similarity between the areas of the body. The inner surface of the gut and the skin are covered by epithelial cells. ECs are closely related to their external environment, enabling them to identify good and bad factors. As a result, you can identify the health of the gut and the skin through changes in appearance.
The gut microbiome
The bacteria in the gut is known as your microbiome. Your microbiome is responsible for maintaining homeostasis (maintaining biological systems). Thus, your microbiome is responsible for organ function, digestion, hormone changes, and all other changes in your body. An unhealthy microbiome increases the likelihood of insufficient operations and increases the risk of disease. And thanks to the gut-skin axis, you can identify these developments through changes in your skin.
Skin conditions and gut health
Recent scientific studies show diagnosable skin conditions are also related to gut health. Research indicates that skin conditions such as eczema, ptosis, rosacea, cancer, and more link to an imbalance in the microbiome. The close link between the skin and microbiome makes it difficult to determine whether the microbiome is the cause or result of skin disorders. Nevertheless, it is evident poor gut health reflects itself in the skin's condition.
How you can improve your gut health
By boosting your gut health, you can improve your skin condition alongside your overall well being. Certain foods are proven to enhance gut health if eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet. Yoghurt, Miso (fermented soya beans), Sourdough, Kimchi, Olive Oil, Almonds, bananas, garlic, and ginger are among the most popular gut-enhancing foods. Alongside adding these foods to your meals, make sure to eat a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich vegetables.
Taking probiotic supplements
You can also take probiotic supplements to support gut health. Probiotics are healthy bacteria naturally found in the foods outlined above. However, medical professionals recommend trying to improve your gut through diet first and taking supplements if your doctor or dietician advises it. Probiotic supplements are not one size fits all, and taking the wrong strain or concentration can pose further risks to your health.
What to do if you think your skin issues are related to your gut
If you're using all-natural, sensitive skincare and your complexion is not improving, it's time to address your diet. Are you consuming enough leafy greens? Is the fat in your diet healthy fat? And are you eating enough lean proteins?
Has your skin condition changed or improved after adding more probiotics to your diet? Hopefully, the answer is yes. If so, make sure to continue eating healthy and paying attention to your skin's reaction.
Ongoing skin conditions may link to a more serious gut health issue. Speak with your doctor, dietician, or dermatologist about your concerns. Be clear about how you're in tune with your skin and believe it could be a gut-skin problem.
The human body is a marvellous thing. Its interdependent nature means we can develop an understanding of our health simply by considering how our organs work together. By paying closer attention to your skin (and what's below the surface), you can promote better health and happiness throughout your life.
Image: Brooke Lark @unsplash