The skin never lies. As our body's largest organ, it acts as a tangible window into our overall health. Our skin can indicate internal health conditions we might not know about, from nutrient deficiencies and dehydration to more serious illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or infections. Learning about potential skin-related signs of illnesses helps us maintain our well-being and overall health.
There can be a host of reasons for skin complaints such as acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, skin ageing, skin cancer, and dandruff. However, one reason that has long been overlooked is gut health.
While we often link skin complaints with the environment, our lifestyle, or genetics, what we eat is a major factor in maintaining healthy skin. If you’ve been struggling with skin problems despite making positive changes to your lifestyle, it may be worth looking at how to improve your gut health.
An imbalance of bacteria species in the gut, known as dysbiosis, is associated with an altered immune response. Of its many potentially nasty results are the development of skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
Some microbes promote inflammation, regulate immune cells, and alter neurotransmitters which can affect your skin. Changes in gut flora may also increase the permeability of the intestinal wall, known as a leaky gut. A leakage of gut bacteria into the bloodstream may result in a variety of skin conditions. Thankfully, there are ways to address this and the results are likely to be evident quite quickly.
Dietary changes, as well as pre and probiotic supplements, can be a good start along with specific dietary methods, such as intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been associated with an improvement in the intestinal wall barrier and, therefore, improving skin condition.
Let’s look at two of the most common skin conditions and their connection to gut health:
There is a distinct difference in gut bacteria species in dermatitis sufferers, such as a lower diversity of microbes and altered levels of specific bacteria species. Foods that are good for gut health, such as probiotics and prebiotics, can help keep the microbiome balanced and reduce inflammation which may help people suffering from dermatitis. Additionally, many studies recommend removing foods that are hard to digest or contain inflammatory substances to avoid irritating the digestive system - as this can cause adverse effects on the skin over time.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease caused by an interplay between genetics, lifestyle, and the environment. It’s linked to gluten sensitivity, along with several skin conditions but is also associated with changes in microbiome diversity. About 10% of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) sufferers commonly have psoriasis.
Recent research has suggested that a correlation exists between gut health and psoriasis, as the two systems may be more closely intertwined than previously thought. In particular, studies have been conducted exploring the effects that changing diet to include probiotic-rich foods may have in aiding individuals with psoriasis symptoms. Therefore, it is important to recognize that while conventional treatments are typically recommended, also considering one's microbiome as a potential area of adjustment may yield promising results when managing this skin condition.
Other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and smoking can also have major implications for psoriasis. Both alcohol and smoking have been associated with the exacerbation of skin lesions and even poor responses to treatments.
In addition, obesity is also an independent risk factor for the development of psoriasis. A healthy weight is associated with a reduction in symptoms. Furthermore, a lowered carbohydrate intake and intermittent fasting have been shown to have a positive impact on psoriasis.
When it comes down to it, having healthy-looking skin starts from within - namely from what we put into our bodies through our diet. Slightly altering our diets towards more probiotic-rich food sources, along with reducing stress levels and avoiding processed foods high in sugar, will help rebalance our microbiome for improved gut health. In turn, this can lead to noticeably healthier-looking skin.
Health & Wellness Ambassador
You can find out more about the link between food and skin at AstonRX.com.