Did you know our gut and our skin actually have a lot in common? They are both large organs which form part of our body that connects with the external environment and they both have really important immune roles. They keep harmful bugs, bacteria, pollutions out of the body, but at the same time have their own unique and diverse microbiome, yes even the skin has a load of good and bad bacteria. What’s fascinating is that evidence shows there are bi-directional connection between the stomach and the skin; basically they talk to each other.
It makes complete sense that gut imbalances are often accompanied by skin issues and vice versa. Our skin is the outer, visible reflection of what’s going on inside, skin and gut health are so closely connected.
If you are struggling with skin issues such as rosacea, acne, eczema or psoriasis, topical products and treatments are really helpful but a key factor and often the turning point is digestive health.
Increasing amounts of research is showing the connection of a gut health and our skin (The gut-skin axis) , which basically means the connection of what we eat, how our gut health is, has a direct impact on the health of our skin. Our skin is an expression of what is going on in the stomach. Interestingly this is not a new approach; traditional forms of medicine that have been around for thousands of years, such as Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine, have a focus on internal health.
Rosacea for example, is connected to SIBO (Small Intestine Bowel Overgrowth). It has also been associated with hypochlorhydria or low stomach acid, and the presence of pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori. Rosacea patients may report “indigestion” more often and use more antacids than others.
The gut balance of bacteria, influences lipids (oils) and fatty acids, which may influence sebum production within the skin and change the actual makeup of the sebum and how it works within the skin, which is fascinating! This helps explain why acne patients often have stomach issues.
Psoriasis is an immune related skin condition that can be triggered by a multitude of things both environmental, emotional and internal factors. Studies have shown there is often a reduced presence of beneficial gut bacteria, which may result with a reduced immune response which can have a direct knock on to the skin.
The connections don’t stop there….. In Functional Medicine its accepted that all the body systems work together as a whole. Always looking for the root cause of imbalances.
And interestingly we also take into account the role of the brain and acknowledge the gut-brain-skin axis. For example, signals of stress and anxiety can cause imbalance of the good and bad bacteria within the gut and intestinal permeability, also known as ‘leaky gut.’ which can cause inflammation, which can be felt in many different ways including causing some skin issues.
So if you want to heal your skin, consider working not only outside in, but also inside out, and heal your gut. It’s not a quick fix, it can take some time and commitment, but the benefits won’t only be visible in the skin, so often whole health is improved as the body feels and looks better.
Working with a nutritionist can be life changing, even if you think you have a healthy diet, we can have imbalances and deficiencies we are totally unaware of. Sometimes healing the intestinal lining, cutting out food allergens or sensitivities and rebalancing bacteria with probiotic and prebiotic foods, supplements and following a program over a number of months to restore can have profound effects. Each person is different, considering our biochemical individuality, therapies are always personalised.
This article was written by the lovely Sue Camp, a friend and talented functional medicine nutrition expert. She practices in Chelsea London & also does online consultations you can find her at www.nutripsyence.com
References Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459. Published 2018 Jul 10. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459. Sivamani, R. The Gut-Skin Axis and Mechanisms for Communication, NatMed Journal, August 2018, Vol 10 Issue 81 Szanto, M., Dozsa, A. et al., Targeting the gut-skin axis – Probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management. Experimental Dermatology. 2019;28:1210–1218