The Gut Health and Skin Connection
Studies have shown a close relationship between our digestive systems and our skin’s health, and there are several reasons for this. Our digestive system enables the absorption of nutrients needed for skin health, eliminates toxins and excess hormones from the body and determines how hydrated we are. The direct link our guts have with the skin called the Gut-Skin axis.
Both the skin and the gut are colonised by different bacteria, yeasts, viruses and fungi. These are collectively known as the microbiome.
The bacteria in our guts in particular play many different beneficial roles. Examples include: producing vitamin K and B-vitamins, providing energy for the cells in the digestive tract, breaking down undigested fibre and maintaining body weight by deciding how much energy to extract from food.
The bacteria that reside in our guts influence the health of our skin, and it has been shown that gut bacteria send signals to our skin that can influence its structure. Therefore a disruption in gut bacteria caused by anti-biotics for example, may be seen in the skin’s appearance and condition. Disruptions may lead to chronic skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.
Gut bacteria has also been shown to influence fat and sebum production, so a healthy balance of gut bacteria ensures adequate protection from environmental toxins and pathogenic bacteria found on the skin’s surface.
Poor gut health can also cause allergic skin conditions, such as eczema via the immune response which begins in the digestive tract.
From birth the bacteria in our guts help to train our immune systems. If we don’t have enough good bacteria in our gut, our immune systems are more likely to over react causing inflammation and conditions such as eczema and hayfever so looking after your gut health with a balanced diet and adequate fluid, is a vital step towards looking after the health of your skin.
How to look after your digestive health:
Reduce sugar and processed foods
Sugar feeds unwanted bacteria in the gut, so the less we have in our diets the more likely we will have a balanced microbiome. It is important to look for hidden sugars in pre-made sauces and ready meals. Processed foods are generally higher in sugar than home- made food.
Eat a variety of vegetables
Eating a variety of vegetables and other plant based foods will result in a wider range of beneficial bacteria being present in the gut. Different bacteria like to ‘eat’ different foods (fibres in particular), so varying your vegetable intake is important. You can do this by eating a ‘rainbow diet’ consisting of brightly coloured foods of varying colours. These foods are rich in nutrients that support our immune systems such as vitamin C and other antioxidants, and include beetroot, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, red peppers, red cabbage, leeks, celeriac, aubergine, kale and blueberries, the list goes on!
Fibre helps to keep the digestive tract active as well as feeding some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Include foods like barley, oats, flaxseeds, apples, brown rice, and lots of vegetables!
Certain vegetables are rich in prebiotic fibres which feed our good bacteria. These include onions, leeks, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, Bok choy and Brussels sprouts. Prebiotic foods create a nourishing environment for beneficial bacteria to flourish in.
Probiotic foods including fermented foods contain beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir, and we can include these foods/drinks regularly to help to maintain our digestive health.
Essential Fatty Acids
These are the good fats in our diet and they help to keep our digestive tracts healthy, reduce inflammation, and are good for our skin.
Include coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
Adequate fluid is needed to keep the digestive tract moving as well as keeping the skin supple. Water is also needed for healthy liver function. A healthy liver is more able to detoxify unwanted substances from the blood, ready to be excreted via the digestive system. If these toxins are not excreted via the digestive system they can cause skin problems.
Looking after your skin starts from the inside by looking after gut health. The information above is a good start and for those with chronic conditions further advice and help is available.
If you suffer with ongoing digestive issues and would like more support, why not download my FREE EBOOK?! It’s called ‘Beat the Bloat- Simple solutions to bloating and pain’. Click on the picture below to download your free copy.
I also run a Facebook group called ‘The Digestive Health Hub’, so please do join if you’re suffering with unwanted digestive issues
Sarah Cox (dip CNM, NTCC)
Phone: 077 888 328 89