The appearance of the skin can be a suggestion of the lifestyle or habits of an individual. Changes in skin health can indicate if someone is sleep deprived, has not had enough fluid intake, or can even be a sign of a disease. The color of the skin can also be a sign of harmful vices such smoking cigarettes daily or frequent alcohol intake. Additionally, dark circles under the eyes can be a suggestion of exhaustion or fatigue.

Cliche as it may sound, having great skin health is a holistic approach. You might have noticed that your skin is seemingly dull or causing more acne breakouts and thought that this is because you have not been sleeping right. So, you invest in skincare and beauty products. But it should not only revolve around that because our skin is a clear reflection of our health within.

Understanding the gut-skin connection

The gut is home to many bacteria, both good and bad. Gut bacteria affect a variety of body processes such as mediating inflammatory conditions, modulating the immune system, impacting homeostasis, and aiding in the breakdown and metabolism of nutrients.

The gut needs to have a balanced ratio of good and bad bacteria, as well as the right nutrients to support your overall health. Excess and overgrowth of bad bacteria caused by poor dietary habits can lead to the breakdown of the gut barrier allowing harmful bacteria to pass through into the bloodstream causing increased skin sensitivity and other changes in skin appearance.

How does the gut affect the skin?

Leaky Gut Syndrome: Internal and external factors such as diet (high-carbohydrate diet and excessive processed and junk food intake), disease progression (Crohn's disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease or IBD, etc.), lifestyle (alcohol consumption, sleep cycle disruption, cigarette smoking), and aging can weaken the gut barrier, making it more permeable. This then allows more harmful bacteria and toxins to pass directly into the bloodstream. It also impacts the body’s ability to absorb the much-needed nutrients, so fewer good bacteria and a lesser supply of vital nutrients are being transported to the vital organs, and often, the skin, hair, and nails get the least. Other effects may include digestive issues, bloating, and food sensitivity.

Psoriasis: It is important to understand the Gut-Skin axis as this is what links the gut to psoriasis. The gut-skin axis is the relationship between our gut health and the appearance of our skin. Psoriasis is when the process of skin cell turnover speeds up, which causes the appearance of red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin, and this is caused mainly by an imbalanced microbiome. It has been found that changes in the gut microbiome cause alterations in the ratio between effector and regulatory T-cells and subsequently contribute to the development of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis.

Improving gut health to improve skin health

Whole Foods: Whole Foods are foods that are not processed, and these foods tend to have lower sugar with higher fiber content, which helps in maintaining blood sugar. Whole foods also contain prebiotics and probiotics that improve gut health. Examples of whole foods are grains, wheat, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Probiotics: Probiotics are a combination of beneficial bacteria and or yeasts. These are usually called good bacteria which promote good digestive health. Probiotics can be acquired from fermented foods such as:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Yogurt is made by fermentation of milk. Eating yogurt is associated with many health benefits as this also improves bone health and is beneficial for individuals with high blood pressure.

  • Kefir: Kefir is a milk drink made from fermented cow or goat milk. Kefir is similar to thin yogurt, which is also a good source of calcium and vitamin C which also help with skin health.

  • Kimchi: Kimchi is a spicy Korean dish that is made by fermenting cabbage along with other vegetables. Fermented foods are known to be beneficial in improving the negative symptoms of inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders.

Prebiotics: Prebiotics are special plant fibers that give the good bacteria the help it needs to grow. Prebiotics also help in promoting good digestive health and make it work better. Prebiotics are present in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as:

  • Chicory Root: Chicory root has historically been used in cooking and medicine and is a great source of prebiotics. It is also high in antioxidants that may protect the liver from oxidative damage.

  • Garlic: Garlic is an herb with various health benefits due to its antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties. It also promotes the growth of Bifidobacteria in the gut.

  • Onions: Onions are rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides that strengthen gut flora and boost the immune system.

  • Apples: Apples are rich in pectin fiber. Based on a 2016 study, pectin from apples promotes healthy gut bacteria and decreases inflammation and growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.

  • Seaweed: Studies have shown that the polysaccharides in seaweeds can provide support for healthy gut flora.

  • Oats: Oats contain large amounts of beta-glucan fiber which helps in promoting healthy gut bacteria.

Exercise: Moderate exercise has been known to have positive effects on overall health like reduction of intestinal permeability and inflammation. It also improves and encourages gut flora and helps circulate nutrients to the skin. Exercising may also reduce stress by increasing feel-good neurotransmitters or endorphins, which in turn help protect the body from the harmful effects of stress.

Supplements: Food supplements can also directly or indirectly impart positive effects on overall gut health. Gloww Collagen is one of them. It contains collagen which has been found to attenuate TNF-α induced barrier dysfunction in experimental studies. This means that collagen can help in maintaining integrity and help repair the gut lining.