The Skin and Gut Health Connection
Did you know that there is an intimate link between your skin health and your gut health?
Yes, here is yet another body system that is impacted by the health of your gut.
More and more research is coming out about how our gut health is impacting the health of the rest of our body.
Terms like the “gut-brain” axis are becoming more common as we try to understand the connection between our digestive system, microbiome, and our mental health and wellbeing.
And the connection between our skin health and our gut health is no different.
The gut-skin axis is a term used to describe the intimate relationship between our gut and our skin. And how the health of our gut can actually dictate the health and vibrancy of our skin.
Skin conditions, from acne to fine lines, are usually a symptom of something else going on elsewhere in the body.
Our skin is actually our body’s largest organ. And just like all of our other body systems are influenced by one another, the same can be said for our skin.
Especially when it comes to skin health and its relationship to the health of our gut.
In this post, I’m going to outline some of the main factors behind this skin-gut relationship, give you some simple diet and lifestyle tips you can use to start healing your gut and therefore your skin, and share some of my favorite products to use to help expedite that healing process.
So if you’re ready to learn more about the relationship between your gut health and the health of your skin, keep reading!
The Gut-Skin Connection
The interaction between the health of our gut and the health of our skin may seem far fetched at first.
But when you dig into the intricacies and similarities between these two body systems, it actually starts to seem like the two could be connected.
Both our skin and our gut have two things in common.
First, they both have a microbiome. We’re more familiar with our gut microbiome as the beneficial gut bacteria that keep our gut healthy and running smoothly.
But our skin microbiome is equally as important for the health of that body system.
And second, both our gut and our skin are highly susceptible to damage from inflammation.
Gut inflammation can lead to anything from leaky gut to Autoimmune Disease. While inflammation of the skin can cause breakouts, dryness, and skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.
The connection between gut health and skin health is real. When the health of our gut is suffering - whether it’s from a gut infection, SIBO, or inflammation - it’s likely that our skin health will suffer too.
But, don’t worry, there are some simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help improve both the health of your skin and the health of your gut!
How Gut Health Influences Skin Health: Our Microbiome
Research has shown that the microbiome is the primary regulator of the gut-skin axis.
There are certain gut bacteria from the Bacteroides and Clostridium species that actually help to regulate our inflammation processes in the skin.
These gut bacteria have been shown to produce certain metabolites that promote the accumulation of lymphocytes and regulatory T-cells in the skin to start anti-inflammatory processes.
This is a relatively new area of research, but these initial findings are astounding! They show a direct relationship between our gut bacteria and the health of our skin.
The gut microbiome appears to also influence the skin microbiome. Short-chain fatty acid production as a result of bacterial fermentation of indigestible fibers in the gut has been shown to regulate beneficial bacteria on our skin.
This means that the types of fermentable fibers you consume, and the byproducts your bacteria produce from them, can determine the types of bacteria on your skin.
All of this increased knowledge around the gut-skin connection helps us understand why certain gut conditions are very strongly associated with certain skin conditions.
People with SIBO are more likely than people without the condition to struggle with Rosacea.
If you have an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis) you’re also more likely to develop an inflammatory skin condition like Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis, or Rosacea.
And some cases of Celiac Disease can present as the skin condition Dermatitis Herpetiformis, with or without gut symptoms.
It’s very clear from the research that the health of our gut, and specifically our microbiome, is a huge contributing factor in the health of our skin.
Everything from our susceptibility to developing acne to having dry, flaky skin can be traced back to the health of our microbiome.
How Gut Health Influences Skin Health: Inflammation
Inflammation in our gut can lead to inflammation elsewhere in our bodies, including our skin.
And there are actually many of the same immune system cells found in both the gut and the skin that help to facilitate this intimate connection.
Certain immune cells that initiate a helpful inflammatory response, called T Helper 17 cells, are found in large quantities in both the skin and the lining of the intestines.
While some inflammation is a normal and natural part of the healing process when these pro-inflammatory cells become unregulated skin conditions like Psoriasis and contact dermatitis can occur.
The regulation of these T Helper 17 cells is controlled by Regulatory T cells, which are greatly influenced by the gut microbiome. So when your gut bacteria are imbalanced, it’s likely that your healthy inflammation response will be imbalanced as well.
And we can’t talk about skin inflammation without talking about acne. Acne is essentially an inappropriate response to inflammation. The more inflammation present in your body, the more susceptible you are to developing acne.
Inflammation is strongly controlled by our response to stress.
The connection between acne breakouts and stress is likely due to the effects that stress has on our gut. Cortisol, the stress hormone, has been shown to play a role in the development of leaky gut, microbiome imbalances, and more.
And when our gut is subjected to the effects of cortisol, it can result in an increase in systemic inflammation, and likely stubborn acne spots.
Reducing our overall inflammatory burden will undeniably be beneficial for both our gut and skin health.
Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Skin
The health of our gut and its effects on the health of our skin are real. And, thankfully, this connection still exists when we work to improve the health of these two body systems.
If your skin issues are caused by an imbalance in your gut, it’s likely that healing whatever is going on in your gut will also help restore your skin.
Unfortunately, our skin is often the last to respond to changes happening elsewhere in our bodies.
So if you’ve been working to heal your gut, give it a few months before you see those positive changes reflected in your skin.
And if these dietary and lifestyle interventions still don’t seem to be working, keep reading for some topical solutions you can try!
Regulate Your Microbiome
Regulating an imbalanced microbiome is going to be one of the biggest keys to restoring both your gut and your skin health.
The best way to help modulate our gut bacteria back into a favorable balance is to use probiotics, prebiotics, and probiotic-containing foods.
Probiotics and prebiotics work in unison to both restore a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and feed and nourish the good gut bugs you already have.
While there are probably many strains of probiotics that can help boost your skin health, the Bacillus Indicus strain has been proven to be especially effective.
This probiotic strain produces 12 different antioxidants in the gut that not only help to reduce leaky gut, but can also clear up your skin, protect it from the sun’s damaging rays, and much more.
This probiotic strain is found in my favorite probiotic supplement, Just Thrive. (If you want to give it a try, you can use the code NINJA15 at checkout to get 15% off your order!)
Remove Inflammatory Foods
If you’re struggling with your skin, removing inflammatory foods can be a huge game-changer.
Inflammation can be one of the main drivers behind impaired skin health. So removing some common inflammatory foods can really help clear up your skin.
Foods like gluten, dairy, sugar, and eggs, while can be part of a generally healthy diet, should be eliminated at least for some time if you’re dealing with recurrent, stubborn skin issues.
Most people will also experience some level of inflammation from consuming foods that are highly processed.
Besides just removing these inflammatory foods for a time (it doesn’t necessarily have to be forever), you can also help improve your skin health by intentionally including plenty of anti-inflammatory foods into your day.
Some great anti-inflammatory foods to include are:
Remember, it will likely take your skin a few months to respond to any of these changes. But while you’re waiting, try to find some healthy, gut and skin healing recipes that you enjoy!
Support Your Gut Lining
Supporting the lining of your gut is another way to improve both your digestive health and your skin health.
With an impaired gut lining, you’re at greater risk for inflammation, and bacterial infections - both of which can affect the health of your skin.
To heal the gut lining, I like to take a three-pronged approach. Include gut-healing supplements, eating more gut-healing foods, and implementing gut-healing lifestyle changes.
My favorite gut-healing supplements include things like:
Some great foods that support your gut lining are bone broth, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
Bone broth provides your gut with a collagen and amino acid boost, while the sauerkraut and yogurt work to balance your microbiome.
And, while lifestyle changes certainly aren’t the most fun or the easiest, they can definitely get you over that gut healing hump, especially if you’ve tried everything else.
Working on shifting your mindset around potentially stressful situations can make a huge difference in both your mental health and your gut health.
Check out my free five-day Stress Management Challenge for some additional mindset shifts that can help calm your mind and your gut.
When Diet and Lifestyle Isn’t Enough
It’s so critical to work on healing your gut in order to see true improvements in your skin health.
But sometimes this root cause approach isn’t enough, and you need some topical treatments to address specific skin issues.
It’s totally okay to use topical treatments to help clear up your skin. And doing so, in conjunction with working on your gut health can certainly make your skin healthier, faster.
Safer Skincare for Gut and Skin Health
There are many skincare products out there claiming to be the ones to fix all of your skin woes in the shortest amount of time.
But, if you’re in the holistic health and wellness community you’ve probably at least heard of the potential problems with many ingredients in conventional skincare products.
There are so many ingredients in conventional products that have the potential to disrupt our hormonal health, affect the health of our growing children, and even lead to cancer down the road.
Because of this, my go-to skincare products MUST be ones that I trust to use safer ingredients, but also not compromise on performance.
Which is why I trust Beautycounter for all of my skincare needs.
Beautycounter goes above and beyond the industry standards for safety and ingredient transparency. They prohibit 1,500 ingredients (that are still used in conventional products) and screen their ingredients for safety.
I feel 100% confident that any Beautycounter product I use will include safer ingredients with little to no health risk.
Plus, they have a product for pretty much any skin issue! I know I’m getting a product that actually performs, can help improve my skin, and that contains safer ingredients, all in line with my goal to live a more holistic, health-focused life.
Here are some of my favorite products (that actually work) for some of the most common skin issues.
If You Have Oily, Acne Prone Skin
If you’re struggling with breakouts, or even just an oily t-zone, this product is for you!
This peppermint-scented mask uses a combination of charcoal and nutrient-rich kaolin clay to purify and balance even the most stubborn skin.
It’ll leave your face feeling refreshed and purified, even pulling out those pesky blackheads.
This daily exfoliating cleanser is the perfect solution to oily and blemish-prone skin.
It effectively removes oil, while acting as a makeup remover and cleanser all in one. But it’s gentle enough that it doesn’t strip the skin of moisture like other acne cleansers do.
Random breakouts and stubborn blemishes don’t stand a chance against this targeted acne spot treatment.
It features a unique SkinBalance Complex that clears breakouts without over-drying for a clearer, healthier looking complexion.
If You Have Dry, Aging Skin
This unique facial oil is the perfect solution to dry, mature skin.
It is an oil, but it’s lightweight and doesn’t weigh your skin down. But it will leave it feeling silky smooth and completely hydrated, smoother, and with a more even skin tone.
Formulated with the safer solution to Retinol, Retinatural, this velvety revitalizing cream works to hydrate skin while it visibly plumps and firms.
If fine lines and wrinkles are your biggest skin concerns, this cream lotion should be at the top of your skincare wish list!
Yes, another facial oil. But when it comes to tackling dry, aging skin cleansing oils are game-changing products.
This cleansing oil, which can also double as a makeup remover, is rich in Vitamin E, fatty acids, and the plant-derived Retinatural Complex.
All of these components work together to help reinforce the skin’s fragile moisture barrier for a soothed, dewey complexion.
If You Have Redness/Rosacea
Can you tell I’m a fan of facial oils?! This radiance boost in a bottle is one of my favorite Beautycounter products.
It’s full of omega-rich oils and antioxidants to help even skin tone while it hydrates and replenishes.
It’s the perfect product to use at night in place of your nighttime moisturizer.
This nighttime moisturizer uses Bio-Mimic Technology to actually match the composition of the skin. Meaning that your skin won’t get too oily, or too dry, when using this product. It’s basically the Goldilocks of skincare.
Use this before bed, and it will replenish and revitalize your skin while you sleep, leaving it smooth and calm in the morning.
This revitalizing facial mist helps prep the skin to keep it moisturized and radiant throughout the day.
It features lime pearl extract and antioxidant-rich Vitamin C to even your skin tone and gently promote a brighter, more radiant complexion.
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions about these safer skincare products, or how to find products that will work specifically for you.
I’m happy to offer free skincare consultations and provide suggestions for products that can help get you on your way to healthy, vibrant skin!
And if you want to learn more about safer skincare and how it can impact your health, sign up for my safer skincare email list. I’ll send you all the latest research and information related to skin health, problematic ingredients in conventional skincare products, and ways to make the safer skincare swap. And you’ll get my free eBook that jumpstarts you on this journey!
And if you also need help with your gut health, I’m here for you too! Shoot me an email and let me know what you’re struggling with.
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