The link between gut health & skin

Skin and gut health are closely interconnected. Here's how to protect & support your skin from the inside out.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, yet it is often the most overlooked. The health of our skin is a reflection of within – meaning that our skin is a great way to determine our overall health, especially gut health. Many of us are guilty of neglecting our gut health until visible symptoms manifest which suggest something is not right, and often, our skin is one of the first places to tell us this. Symptoms such as acne, congestion, breakouts, rosacea, eczema, skin dryness & many more, are all ways our body alerts us of something happening deeper within our gut. So, although you might be spending a fortune on skincare & topical products, the real & long lasting results start in the gut. 

What exactly could be going wrong in my gut?  

Our gut is home to a community of bacteria, both good & bad. The health of our gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens & harmful microbes are kept out. If our gut begins to experience an overgrowth of bad bacteria, this can lead to a breakdown of the gut barrier, resulting in what is called ‘leaky gut syndrome’. This can ultimately lead to harmful toxins & nasty bacteria that would once be eliminated, to pass through the gut barrier & into our bloodstream, causing increased sensitivity and inflammatory response by the body. This overgrowth of bad bacteria is often caused by poor dietary choices (a diet that lacks nutritious diversity & is high in processed foods), increased stress levels, lack of sleep, antibiotics, lack of exercise, excess alcohol consumption & cigarettes. 

How is my gut affecting my skin?

Leaky gut syndrome is a double-whammy – it impacts both the elimination of harmful toxins & bacteria, whilst also hindering the absorption of vital nutrients that support skin health. Our gut barrier is essentially our first line of defence and once it becomes impaired, our liver must work overtime to eliminate the harmful toxins & bacteria that made its way into the body. With the first line of defence impaired & the liver working overtime, our skin is required to pick up the slack & becomes another route of toxin elimination, leading to acne, congestion & breakouts. This route of elimination may also trigger the immune system, leading to increased redness, irritation & swelling which may manifest as eczema or rosacea. 

OH, but it does not end there. Like we said before, a weakened gut barrier also impacts the absorption of nutrients – this means fewer good bacteria & short supply chain of vital nutrients the body requires. Because of this, our body selectively transports what good bacteria & nutrients are available to vital organs and often our skin, hair & nails are not a priority.

Here are a few things you can do to help your gut & skin issues

Turn your attention to how you are functioning internally & help your gut microbiome to flourish in all the right ways (your skin will thank you for it). Here’s how:

Consume a nutritious & diverse diet (eat the rainbow) 

Food is the primary source of energy for our gut microbiome, meaning we need to continuously consume diverse & nutritious foods in order to maintain the balance between good and bad bacteria. If our diet begins to lack these aspects, unfortunately, the good bacteria are starved of energy needed to survive and begins to die off, allowing the bad bacteria to flourish. It is important to ensure at least 50-70% of your plate is wholesome, nutritious vegetables of all different colours. The more colour, the more nutrition & antioxidants – your gut & skin will love you for this. Aim to eat at least 30 plant-based foods a week – this includes nuts & seeds, whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables. Do not fixate on eating one category of plant-based foods, just aim to consume a few things from each one of those groups!

Include fermented foods & prebiotics into your diet

Fermented foods often contain a wide range of good bacteria that are beneficial for a thriving gut microbiome. Try and include fermented foods daily such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough & miso paste (to name a few). For the good bacteria to bloom & flourish we need to ensure they are fed with prebiotics such as garlic, onion, wheat, beans, berries & legumes. Something to keep in mind is that the foods are often high in FODMAPs, which if you have IBS or IBD, could trigger some digestive discomfort. If this is you, we highly recommend not just avoiding FODMAPs as these foods are great for optimal gut health. Instead, it is important to address the underlying causes which are usually inflammation & imbalance. The Inside & Out Program is our go-to for removing unwanted free radicals & pathogens causing inflammation and rebalancing with probiotics. 

Avoid refined (processed) carbohydrates, sugars & alcohol

As well as implementing ways to improve your good gut bacteria, it is important to avoid certain aspects that may impact it. A diet high in refined foods, sugars & excess alcohol consumption can significantly decrease diversity in our gut, leading to starvation of good bacteria & an overgrowth of the bad, which can cause leaky gut syndrome (the double-whammy - we don’t want that). Everything is fine in moderation and we highly recommend the 80/20 rule, but it is so important to enjoy these foods in moderation rather than binge. It is also important to tune into your body and pay attention to what foods might wreak havoc on your gut & skin, everyone is different!

Back to blog