The Gut Skin Connection: Can Gut Health affect Skin?

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up, looked at your skin in the mirror, and wondered — what happened

You’re not alone. (Our hands are raised.) Modern life can take a toll on our skin. From environmental contaminants to the nutritional deficit in the average American diet, our skin is pretty consistently getting kicked while it’s already down. 

The thing is, we tend to treat our skin with tons of topical treatments without realizing that it’s intimately connected to our diet, digestion, sleep, stress levels, and overall health.

While lotions and potions can definitely do some good, treating your skin right from the inside out can supercharge its health – and your glowing good looks. 

(After all, your skin is your largest organ. Making sure that your body is in tip-top shape affects how your skin looks and feels!) 

If you’ve ever noticed that your skin tends to suffer a day or two after a particularly indulgent meal, you might already have some suspicion that what we eat is reflected a few days later on our faces. Today, we’re here to tell you that the wonderful, weird gut-skin connection goes far deeper than just some pizza-related acne.

Ready to be amazed? Let’s dive right in. 

Quick And Dirty Facts About The Link Between Your Gut And Your Skin

Fair warning: You’re going to look at your skin in a whole different light in just a few minutes. 

  • We know that the gut microbiome plays a large role in a person’s overall health. This includes our skin: Researchers have found links between the health and diversity of the gut microbiome and immune responses linked to various skin conditions. Meaning proper treatment of your digestion system can improve your gut health and acne, psoriasis, melasma, rosacea etc.  
  • It may not surprise you that your gut’s microbiota influences your skin’s health — but did you know that your skin has its own microbiome? Good, healthy bacteria from your gut may travel to your skin’s microbiota. Harmful bacteria can make the same journey. Once there, these bacteria can trigger inflammation, causing unpleasant, painful, or frustrating skin conditions.  
  • If you battle acne — as nearly 10% of the global population does! — this one’s for you: While teams of scientists are still racing to learn more about the link between acne and gut health, all of the clues currently point toward a strong connection. We know that acne involves obstruction of our pores, over-secretion of sebum, and inflammation. Those symptoms are caused by a microorganism — Propionibacterium acnes — that may be present at higher levels in our bodies when our intestinal flora is imbalanced. 
  • At the very least, nutrient malabsorption linked to an unhealthy gut reduces our ability to get specific nutrients and minerals (like folic acid, chromium, selenium, and zinc) that keep our skin beautiful and blemish-free.
  • If you’ve got aging on your mind, we’ll end with a fun fact about our gut microbiota and looser, wrinklier skin: When researchers looked at the relationship between microbes, metabolism, and metagenomics data, they found that the production of fatty acids, ceramides, and pigmentation — factors that make your skin look older or younger — could be tied to specific bacterial pathways in the gut. 

This is a lot to take in, but one thing seems clear: If we have frustrations surrounding our skin, whether it be aging or acne or just how plump and beautiful it happens to be on any given day — taking a quick gut check might provide us with some answers. 

Gut Health and Skin Issues

Let’s start with some validation and answers: If you’ve been dealing with any of the following issues, your gut skin connection may be trying to tell you something.

  • Rosacea
  • Eczema
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis

If you think of these skin conditions as your gut’s attempts to communicate with you, suddenly, they’re far less scary. 

You may begin to think you can do something about it. And you’d be right!

While your skin is unique to you and you should always consult with a doctor or dermatologist about personalized skincare strategies, taking some time to learn about and optimize the gut skin connection is usually a good first step.

The Strange And Special Similarities Between Your Gut And Your Skin

Here’s a quick definition: 

As a critical network of both protection and communication for your body, your skin is also known as the integumentary system. 

The integumentary system (your skin and its billions of teeming bacteria) and your intestinal system (including your gut microbiome) have a lot in common.

  • Both feature inflammation-prone epithelial cells.
  • Both have a very close connection to the immune system. 
  • Both are very sensitive even to minute environmental changes. 

We also know that these two systems speak to each other — a lot. Scientists have even found that the gut microbiome releases compounds that are “hormone-like” in nature. Many of these hormone-adjacent substances can make or break your skin health. 

Your gut microbiota can also induce inflammation and even infections in your skin, depending on which intestinal microorganisms are currently present in high numbers.

This makes the way you treat your gut a pretty good indicator of how your skin will look. The question is no longer “can gut health affect skin?” but “how much does gut health affect skin?”

In fact, the following unhelpful habits — ones that can wreak havoc on your gut health — can also be directly linked to many frustrating skin conditions: 

  • Eating an imbalanced diet. It’s essential that you, your body, and your beautiful skin get enough fats, proteins, and carbohydrates for resiliency and glow. 
  • Not getting enough fiber. Your gut’s bacteria need fiber to thrive. If your gut doesn’t have good bacteria, your skin and its bacteria will suffer. 
  • Taking antibiotics. Antibiotics save lives, and you should always follow your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to prescription medication. Just know that antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria in your gut as well as the bad, resulting in a host of unpleasant symptoms. If you’re taking them, you’ll need to focus on restoring balance to your gut microbiome.
  • Failing to get enough sleep. When you sleep, your body restores and heals itself. This goes for your skin, your gut, and every part of you! If you’re burning the midnight oil regularly, your gut may not be able to replenish its levels of good bacteria. Your skin, similarly, may be more vulnerable to inflammation and infection when you haven’t slept enough. 

Some of these things may not be entirely in your control, but there are some healthy tweaks you can incorporate into your routine today. 

Your Skin, Your Gut, And You: A Quick How-To

Interested in learning the lifestyle hacks you need for the skin of your dreams?

Figuring out how the road to great skin is a long process, and one that will play out uniquely for you. Working with a dermatologist to identify any specific symptoms or concerns you may have is always smart. However, if you’re looking for a holistic solution that will make you feel great and help your skin, consider starting with these habits: 

  1. Get a good amount of sleep! The amount you need will depend on your age, health, lifestyle, and many other factors. Eight hours per night is a good target.
  2. Stress less. This can feel like vague and unhelpful advice, but stress leads to both systemic and skin inflammation. If your life contains unavoidable stressful situations (we get it!), see if you can incorporate a quick breathing or stretching routine into your day. 
  3. Stay hydrated. Not only will hydration help your skin, it’ll help your gut. Drinking water protects your gut’s lining and helps keep your digestion regular. As a result, your gut microbiome will be happy and healthy — producing great benefits for you and your skin! 

A Beautiful Grocery Haul For A Beautiful You

You probably already know that eating the rainbow or packing your grocery cart full of plants will be ridiculously transformative for you and your skin. But there’s more.

If you’re looking for a list of snacks that will soothe your skin from the inside out, look no further. 

Think about picking up these foods next time you want to invest in a great-feeling gut and sensational-looking skin: 

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Kombucha
  3. Lactose- or Dairy-Free Yogurt
  4. Coffee (or fermented coffee, if you’re feeling fancy!)
  5. Sauerkraut
  6. Mangoes
  7. Kefir
  8. Sprouted grains
  9. Coconut oil
  10. Wild salmon
  11. Garlic
  12. Miso
  13. Chocolate
  14. Collagen
  15. Bone broth
  16. Onions
  17. Kvass (a fermented rye beverage)
  18. Lentils
  19. Artichokes
  20. Raspberries
  21. Kimchi

Whether they’re fermented and full of probiotics, healthy fats and proteins to rebuild your skin matrix, or fruits and veggies full of fiber and nutrients, these foods are delicious and capable of boosting your health. Try them, and see if your skin improves! (We bet it will!)

Help Out Your Largest Organ With A Gut-Boosting, Skin-Savvy Probiotic

Are you looking to see glowier, healthier, more vibrant skin fast? Like, the day after you start a new skincare regimen fast?

We can’t promise that kind of magic, but we can offer probiotics that can help supercharge your journey towards a happier, healthier gut. Take our quiz today to learn more about what probiotics can do for your gut, your skin, and your overall health!

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