Have you ever heard of the saying, ‘our skin is the mirror of our health’? Our skin is more than just the outer, protective layer of our body. It’s the largest organ and when something goes wrong inside, the change appears on our skin as well.
Years worth of research have shown that the microbes in our gut are directly connected to the organs throughout our entire body, including our skin, and hence, play a significant role in disease progression.
What is the Gut Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis?
Before diving into the gut-skin connection, let's get the terms right.
Scientists estimate that 100 trillion microbes, including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other, live in the human body, and the majority of them in our gut, mostly in the small and large intestines. The gut microbiome refers to these microbes which play a vital role in our body’s daily functions. When we have an imbalance of gut microbes, this can lead to dysbiosis.
The Gut-Skin Connection
Radiant skin comes from within. From a balanced, diverse microbiome. Dysbiosis that beings in the gut can manifest in other areas of the body, or to a lesser degree, it may cause skin to simply appear less radiant or less healthy. This microbiome state can therefore alter the appearance of our skin, making those early signs of ageing more apparent. On the brightside, this also works to our advantage. Studies have shown that supporting the gut microbiome can support the skin’s elasticity and hydration - both markers of a youthful, glowing appearance.
This is how it works: when we eat well, we are altering the proportions of gut microbiomes. An abundant and diverse microbiome will support the absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat. Additionally, consuming a healthy diet full of fiber and plant-based foods drives the microbes to multiply, producing bioactive molecules that actually support the skin. As Dr. Patterson explains, “Your body needs a diversity of gut bacteria and evolves as you age… The greater the diversity that exists in the gut microbiome, the better it is for your health”.
Skin Conditions From Gut Imbalance
Our skin is one of our body’s great messengers. It is highly involved in regulating our immune system, and the way it affects the health of our skin. When we experience gut dysbiosis, our body and skin responds with inflammation and/or irritation which may look different for everyone. Dysbiosis has been connected with skin-related conditions such as dry skin, acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, even though sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint if this is the cause.
A very common skin condition at various points of someone’s life, and present in multiple ways, clogs hair follicle pores with oil or dead skin. This skin condition can be associated with an unbalanced and unhealthy gut.
Eczema & Atopic Dermatitis
Eczema is not a specific disease but describes a group of inflammatory skin conditions that produce rash-like symptoms, such as red, itchy patches on the skin.
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, but also the most severe, chronic and long-lasting, and refers to a tendency towards allergic hypersensitivity. Characterized by inflamed skin that may crack and release clear fluid, some studies have shown that people with atopic dermatitis may have a smaller range of gut bugs than those who don’t have eczema.
This skin condition causes a bumpy blush-like irritation on the face and is linked to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.
All About a Healthy Microbiome
What Does It Mean To Have a Healthy Microbiome?
Our microbiome is as unique as our fingerprint; no two people have the same combination and quantities of bacteria. As previously mentioned, a healthy microbiome is one that is balanced, meaning it is diverse and abundant in healthy bacterias, although the “bad” bacterias are still important in the right amounts. A healthy microbiome will play a significant role in our good health.
What Can Destroy Your Microbiome?
We are all born with a unique microbiome and therefore our family genes play a role in the type of bacterias we have. But further on, there are other factors that impact your microbiome.
Medication. Antibiotics are a great invention and when in need, can save lives, but it is also true that these are being over-prescribed and used as a preventative treatment instead of when strictly necessary. Antibiotics kill and wipe out both good and bad bacteria creating a condition that allows harmful bacteria to take over. As studies show, just one course of antibiotics can negatively affect our gut for up to a year or more.
Refined sugar contributes to inflammation in the body, can stimulate growth of problematic bacteria, and alter our gut microbiome. This is especially true when combined with a diet low in fiber. Turning to artificial sweeteners for a low calorie alternative to sugar is not the answer either. These food-like products often disrupt the gut microbiome by boosting the growth of certain bacteria that trigger fat storage and affecting our metabolism.
Birth control pills can disturb the body’s natural hormonal balance, making it the perfect environment for harmful bacteria and yeast to grow.
A few other factors that are harmful to our gut microbiome include pesticides, which inhibit the growth of any beneficial bacteria, stress, which triggers the release of cortisol and decreases oxygen in the gut, altering the composition and diversity of the microbiome, and lack of sleep, which disrupts our natural circadian rhythm resulting in dysbiosis.
How To Improve Your Gut Health?
To address and heal the root causes of our skin imperfections, we must heal our gut. Our food choices play a large and significant role in determining what kinds of microbes live in our gut. Adopting a diet that supports the microbiome can simply start with consuming plant-rich foods and from different sources. People who consume a diet that is mostly made up of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, complex carbohydrates, seeds and nuts tend to have a healthier gut microbiome compared to people who don’t or consume large amounts of highly-processed foods that are high in sugars, saturated fats and salt. We have the power and every bite can contribute to a glowing healthy skin.
More specific, indigestible carbohydrates and fibers play an important role in limiting the growth of harmful bacteria and providing other health benefits. These fibers are sometimes called prebiotics because they feed our beneficial microbes and although they are commonly sold as supplements, many foods naturally contain prebiotic fibers. The highest amounts are found in the raw versions of garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas and seaweed. But in general, fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains like wheat, oats, and barley are all good sources of prebiotic fibers.
You might have also heard of probiotics. These are also known as the beneficial live bacteria that may alter one’s microbiome and promote digestive health. Some probiotic foods include fermented foods like kefir, yogurt with live cultures, pickled vegetables, tempeh, kombucha tea, miso, and sauerkraut. When consuming these foods, be mindful of their preparation methods (best to avoid them being fried) and of the added ingredients predominantly in the form of sugars, fats, and salt.
Bonus To a Glowing Complexion
Besides implementing a diet plan that addresses your healthy gut goals, and for greater results, visit The Secret Skincare and check out our prescription formulated products. We’ve got exactly what you need to target your specific skin concern, all the way from dullness to rosacea and scarring.
Whether you’re looking to add the perfect products to your skincare routine, treat a specific concern, or are interested in finding out if medical grade and prescription skincare is the right option for you, The Secret is here to guide you on your journey to clear, glowing skin.
If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please contact us online.