Believe it or not, but your skin and gut are in constant communication with one another. In fact, more and more research shows that where skin conditions have manifested or there is skin inflammation—there’s also gut inflammation. Did you know that IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is almost four times as likely to occur in people with eczema, while SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is ten times as prevalent in people with acne and rosacea?
So while applying clean, nourishing products to the surface of your skin is important, nurturing a healthy gut is also an important step on the journey to a clear complexion and optimal skin health (not to mention an improved immune system and overall wellness).
The Gut-Skin Axis, Explained
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Clear, radiant skin? Or an inflamed, red and irritated complexion?
The answer to this simple question can provide you with a deep insight into what’s going on beyond the surface. Where there is gut inflammation, there is almost always skin inflammation caused by dysbiosis—an imbalance in your microbiome.
Just like the gut-brain axis—whereby our gut and brain are in constant communication via the vagus nerve—our gut and skin also enjoy a consistent dialogue via what is known as the gut-skin axis. This pathway allows the gut and skin to communicate via the microbiome—so it makes sense that if our gut is out of balance or inflamed in any way, our skin is one of the first places to show symptoms.
So How Exactly Does Our Gut Health Affects Our Skin?
The simplest way to understand exactly how our gut health affects our skin is to use the analogy of our gut as a garden. If the soil in the garden isn’t healthy, balanced and thriving with a good array of nutrients and bacteria, then the plants that grow within its soil will struggle to blossom. For glowing, healthy skin, we must first turn our attention to our gut.
While almost all skin conditions are either caused by—or linked to—gut health issues, diagnosing this link can be a complex task. This is because the symptoms we experience when faced with skin health issues are often similar in nature to those we experience when our gut is out of balance. If, for example, we consume something that triggers inflammation in the gut—such as gluten or dairy—we may experience a skin manifestation such as a rash or hives. This link may seem obvious, but it requires that we pay careful attention to our bodies and the substances that trigger a reaction.
Similarly, if we suffer from leaky gut, we may be unable to fully absorb and utilise the key nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are essential for glowing, healthy skin. Furthermore, if our gut is considered to be ‘leaky’, endotoxins that would ordinarily be processed and expelled may escape into our bloodstream, placing extra pressure on our liver, thereby causing our skin to pick up the slack. Leaky gut also causes inflammation in the body, which is implicated in most skin issues, from acne to eczema and psoriasis.
To heal our skin, it’s therefore important to heal and nourish our gut garden first.