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The Gut-Skin Connection

 

Psoriasis, acne and eczema are all conditions that tend to share the same root cause - poor gut health. Gut dysfunction is a trigger for many skin conditions, and while it may seem like a surprising link, gut health is the foundation for healthy skin! 


Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria and microbes that live commensally within the digestive tract. These microbes carry out a variety of functions that have a widespread influence on our body as a whole, with studies uncovering direct links between our microbiome and our mental health, hormones and our skin. When it comes to the health and appearance of our skin, it may seem unrelated to prioritize gut health as a treatment - but it’s actually a common root cause of many skin conditions. Whatever is presenting on the skin is often a reflection of what’s going on internally within our gut. 


Just like the gut, our skin has its own unique microbiome. While skin conditions are largely influenced by the skin microbiome, they’re also closely linked with the health of our gut microbiome. In the same way that our gut and brain is in constant communication, our gut is in communication with our skin by what’s known as the gut-skin axis. Our gut houses the majority of our immune system, it’s where the nutrients from our food are digested and absorbed, it aids in the detoxification of our hormones and it plays a role in regulating our neurotransmitters. When we look at the body holistically, it’s no surprise that our gut health would play a key role in the health and appearance of our skin. When our gut health is taking a hit, whether that’s from stress, an inflammatory diet or leaky gut, our skin is often the first place we notice it. There are a few key ways that poor gut health can impact our skin:

Poor detoxification

A healthy gut is crucial for the proper detoxification and elimination of our waste products. Our pathways of elimination (namely, our bowels) are not to be underestimated when it comes to our skin health. To get straight to the point, if we’re not moving our bowels regularly 💩 then we’re not effectively helping the body get rid of waste products! If the body isn’t getting rid of waste products on the regular, these substances can be recycled and reabsorbed - which is bad news for the skin. The skin is our largest organ, and it’s actually considered to be one of the clever ways our body eliminates waste products (think, sweat!). This means that if you're struggling to move your bowels regularly and your other pathways of elimination are compromised, the body may attempt to excrete these toxins through the skin. 

How to support healthy detoxification: make sure you’re moving your bowels regularly - at least once a day! Drinking enough water, eating enough fiber and exercising are all great ways to prevent constipation that may be worsening your skin concerns. 

Leaky gut

Our gut is lined with cells that are tightly knit together to create a barrier between our digestive tract and the bloodstream. These cells are known as ‘tight junctions’, and they create tiny gaps that allow small amounts of nutrients to pass through. Leaky gut takes place when these tight junctions loosen and cause larger gaps in the intestinal wall, allowing harmful bacteria and other undigested food particles to pass into the bloodstream. This not only causes digestive symptoms like bloating and inflammation, but it also affects many other body systems, like our skin. 

How to heal leaky gut: focus on gut healing foods like bone broth! As an incredible source of glutamine and other healing amino acids, bone broth aids in repairing the gut lining and supports the production of collagen. 

Absorption

In order to reap all the benefits of the nutrients from the food we eat, we need to be effectively absorbing our food. If we’re experiencing some gut dysfunction that disrupts the way our food is absorbed, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies which may impact the health of our skin. The body requires specific nutrients to maintain our skin integrity, nutrients like zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C. If our gut health is compromised for whatever reason, we may not be effectively utilizing these nutrients from the food we’re eating, which can lead to all sorts of skin issues.

How to enhance absorption: digestion begins in the mouth! If we don’t take the time to mindfully eat our food, we won’t produce enough stomach acid to break it down. This makes it harder for our digestive system to absorb and assimilate the important nutrients from our food. Try not to drink water close to meals, focus on chewing your food and eating slowly, and make sure you’re eating enough zinc to encourage the production of stomach acid. 

Dysbiosis

Also known as an imbalance of our gut bacteria, dysbiosis can cause a host of symptoms ranging from mood swings, brain fog to acne and psoriasis. Our microbiome is a key regulator for the immune system which is largely what controls our inflammatory response. When it comes to eliminating inflammatory skin conditions, from psoriasis to eczema, it all starts with addressing any imbalances within the gut.  

How to address dysbiosis: invest in a good quality probiotic and focus on probiotic rich foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Focus on those gut healing foods like bone broth, as well as foods rich in zinc and protein to support the gut lining and reduce inflammation.

Looking for more ways to support your gut health naturally? Check out our most recent blog post here.

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