The Gut-Skin Axis
How good is it when you wake up and your skin is looking radiant, dewy and clear. A bit like a great hair day, or when an outfit comes together - it puts a spring in your step and the world seems like an easier and more fun place to be!
By the same token, when your skin is misbehaving - irritated, unbalanced, and the opposite of glowing… it can be depressing and distressing. Especially when you don’t know what’s causing those issues and you can’t find a cream that works to sort it out!
The truth is your skin is a powerful reflection of what’s happening on the inside, and chronic skin issues such as acne, mild eczema and psoriasis can often be an indicator of an internal imbalance that needs correcting. A common source of skin challenges is a gut-skin axis that is out of balance and, when the gut-skin axis isn’t working well, no amount of serums, potions and lotions are going to shift what’s happening on the surface.
So what exactly is happening inside? Let’s take a look.
What is the gut-skin axis?
The term ‘gut-skin axis’ describes the connection between your gastrointestinal tract and skin. It was over 80 years ago now that two dermatologists (John Stokes and Donald Pillsbury) first proposed the gut-skin connection and scientific literature has continued to provide evidence of this relationship.
Firstly, there is literally not one cell, tissue or organ that is not affected by what’s going on with the gut and, nutrient absorption and waste elimination aside, most of our immune system is present on the other side of the single cell wall lining of our gut and it’s responsible for whether our entire body is in a state of tolerance or inflammation.
Our gut microbiome heavily influences our immune system and, through complex immune mechanisms, the gut microbiome can affect the wellbeing of distant organs such as the skin.
Essentially, gut health issues, such as dysbiosis, can cause inflammation elsewhere in the body that can then turn into ongoing skin problems.
How do you support the gut-skin axis?
Supporting gut health requires a multi-faceted approach. There are many things that can affect gut health, and therefore skin health, including:
- dietary choices such as consuming refined sugar, excess carbohydrates and fat, alcohol and coffee
nutrient insufficiencies, including omega-3, zinc, vitamin A and fibre
- illness or infection (including food poisoning)
As a result, there are many things that can also be helpful for supporting gut health, including:
dietary fibre(especially prebiotics)
- digestive enzymes
- nutrients such as glutamine, vitamin A, D, zinc and omega-3
- herbs like slippery elm, marshmallow, turmeric and licorice root
Gut health is a fundamental foundational for the health of your entire body - including your skin. If you’ve been struggling with skin issues for a while and not having any luck, consider whether your gut-skin axis is in need of some support. Of course, if they persist or change unexpectedly, make sure to discuss with a health professional.