How Does Gut Health Affect Your Skin?
You may have already heard about the link between gut health and your complexion. It’s an interesting idea that may seem far-fetched at first. Can a healthy gut actually improve your skin? Yes, and it all comes down to inflammation.
What is a healthy gut?
Your gut microbiome is a complex microbial community that affects the rest of your body in different ways. The most obvious involves inflammation and your immune system. When you have the wrong balance of microbes in your gut, your immune system goes into high gear producing inflammatory proteins.
A healthy gut must have the right balance of microorganisms. If your intestinal flora consists of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, you will be able to digest your food better and absorb nutrients from your food.
You also need a healthy balance of Bacteroidetes and firmicutes to protect your gut from pathogenic microbes. These bacteria should be recognized by your immune system as healthy organisms.
When you eat the wrong foods or take antibiotics, your gut health can be compromised. You may get an imbalance in your gut microbiome that causes a chain reaction of negative consequences.
How does your gut health affect your skin?
As your body attempts to reign in the abundance of bad microbes and the toxins they produce, you develop inflammatory diseases. Your stimulated immune system causes inflammation that manifests in different ways throughout your body.
- Acne – Eating the wrong fats can cause an imbalance of gut bacteria that produce toxins. This can eat holes in your digestive tract, causing a leaky gut that produces inflammation and sends toxins through your body. Your skin procures excess oil and reacts to bacterial toxins.
- Rosacea – Your body may exhibit a similar process that causes rosacea. Rather than an overproduction of oil, your skin becomes red and irritated from the harmful toxins.
- Psoriasis – When your body produces excess inflammatory factors, these circulating proteins can get out of control. They may begin attacking your own cells in an autoimmune disease process.
- Eczema – This skin condition also can arise as an autoimmune process from inflammation.
Inflammation can take a toll on your other body systems leading to numerous chronic disease states. Medical research substantiates that you need a healthy gut to live a healthy life.
How can you improve your gut health?
Whether or not you have a gut health disorder, you can always benefit from introducing healthy gut habits. If you do have symptoms of poor gut health, you may be suffering from one of these conditions:
- Leaky gut
- Dysbiosis – an imbalance in your gut microbes
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – An overabundance of bacteria in your digestive system.
- Gut infections (parasites, yeast, bacteria, or viruses)
Disease processes can cause a cascade effect in your body. Stress hormones negatively affect your gut and impact your immune system, which affects your skin. Certain herbs and medicines called adaptogens can help your body adapt to stress and reduce the impact of bodily stress.
Maca is an adaptogenic herb known for reducing inflammation and improving skin health. Rhodiola and ashwagandha are two other adaptogens that can balance hormones and improve your body’s stress tolerance. These herbs may offset some gut diseases processes that are out of control.
How Foods can Impact your Gut-Skin Balance
Eating the wrong foods can cause as much havoc in your body as stress. You are what you eat takes on a more literal translation when you think about feeding your gut. If you feed your gut microbes simple sugars and highly processed foods, you are feeding the wrong crowd. These foods encourage the growth of bad bacteria.
If you feed your gut probiotic labeled foods then you will encourage good bacteria to flourish. Alternatively, when you take too many antibiotics, you wipe out important gut bacteria and allow antibiotic resistant strains to grow. You may end up with the wrong balance of microorganisms.
Dairy and gluten should be okay for a healthy gut, but they may cause problems for people with weakened gut health. If you want to ensure the most benefit from an improved gut health regimen, then many nutritionists will advise you to avoid these food groups.
Bad for gut health:
- simple sugars
Good for gut health:
- Bone broth (for collagen)
- Fermented vegetables (probiotics)
- Swedish bitters (adaptogenic herbal tonic)
- Kefir (probiotic that is especially beneficial for improved skin)
- Cod liver oil and coconut oil are both healthy fats for good gut bacteria
- Liver is dense with skin boosting nutrients that your gut bacteria can easily process.
- Garlic, ginger, oregano oil are antibiotics specific for bad gut bacteria.
Your body is a complex machine with important microbial ecosystems. Your gut microbiome is a primary factor for skin health. You can improve your skin health by feeding your gut specific healthy foods and herbs. Take care of your gut and your skin will be rewarded.