The Link Between Skin and Gut Health
Gut health continues to be a heavily researched field due to the magnificent complexity and far-reaching impact the gut has over one’s overall health. In simple terms, think of the gut as your formidable epicentre – if the gut is unhealthy, you can bet the body will send up the red flags. A multitude of research studies in the past decade have made the link between gut health and our immune system, not to mention, adverse skin conditions (even more reason to commit to clean skincare!), mental health, auto immune diseases, and cancer – to name a very few. It is a field that is continually being explored and studied for its sheer wealth of information.
As the subject of our gut health can be awash in complicated scientific jargon, we thought we’d break it down in more digestible terms. Every individual has a gut biome: a trillion strong army of collective of fungi, bacteria and viruses that live in our bodies, from our skin (microbes on the skin that aid in healing) to our intestines and colon. These helpful little microbes that live within us come on friendly terms (for the most part!) and aid in our development, digestion, and ability to fight diseases. However, like many things in life, it is all about balance. An imbalance in our gut microbiome can result in wide ranging ramifications; From disease, high blood sugar, and food intolerances, to fatigue, sleep disturbances, as well as a variety of skin conditions/disorders.
When it comes to our skin, the relationship to the gut is varied and complex, but there is always a simple explanation through the madness. For starters, an imbalance in our gut can affect the way our body absorbs/retains nutrients from food and hence this lack of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals can result in skin that shows this deficiency. Moreover, research shows that such conditions as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and acne vulgaris can also be linked back to an imbalance or more substantial gut condition such as leaky gut syndrome. If that wasn’t enough to make you take notice of the gut, research shows that foods that spike our blood sugar levels (foods high on the Glycaemic Index) can lead to inflammation and result in cystic acne. So our diet has never been more important when it comes to skin and overall health.
There is plenty that can be done to ensure our gut is balanced and harmonious. For starters, source out any food intolerances or allergies. It is important to identify food ‘aggravators’ (foods that aggravate and lead to inflammation, i.e. dairy for many) and ‘feeders’ (foods that promote bad growth of bacteria, i.e. sugar). Secondly, take note of any changes that may affect gut health such as taking antibiotics or any additional medications.
The must DO’s: focus on a nutrient rich, fibre-full diet, low in sugar and processed foods. According to nutritionist and owner of NAO Wellness Center, Nikki Ostrower, dairy, gluten, and sugar show up as top three pro-inflammatory ingredients in many boxed, bagged, or bottled products. So an avoidance of these foods may be a huge benefit the skin. And lastly, take a prebiotic/probiotic. Replenishing our gut with healthy, ‘friendly’ bacteria goes a long way to promote gut harmony.
A happy gut definitely ensures our skin and overall health will reap the benefits. And from we sit, happy and healthy go hand in hand!