Your skin is the reflection of your internal health. If your skin is inflamed, congested with pores, or consists of acne it usually reflects imbalance in the gut or mismanaged lifestyle. So, if you are someone who spends thousands of rupees improving your skin health, it might be worth checking in on what’s happening inside your body.
Your skin is the largest organ of the body. The skin regulates body temperature, water loss, protection from external invaders and maintains homeostasis. Beyond its functional role, skin definitely has an aesthetic role in our lives. The factors that affect our skin are genetic factors, lifestyle factors like sleep, nutrition, stress, digestion and environmental factors like toxins, pollution, uv rays. In this blog, I am addressing skin and its relation to GUT.
The connection between GUT and skin disorders: GUT-SKIN AXIS
A lot of skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis herpetiformis, ectopic dermatitis have an established link to the gut barrier. The most common skin condition – Acne Vulgaris – is influenced by the quality of the gut microbiome. The common link between all these conditions is SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). While poor gut health is not solely responsible for skin issues, it’s commonly observed that digestive issues are common with poor skin health.
Our GUT is lined by trillions of good and bad bacteria. This plethora of bacteria is called GUT Microbiome which is influenced by sleep, stress, food, and emotions. An imbalance in the gut microbiome means there is more bad bacteria than good bacteria in your gut. This is called GUT Dysbiosis. This imbalance where the bad bacteria outnumbers the good bacteria leads to inflammation, loss of gut barrier, and overgrowth of bad bacteria. The intestinal gut lining is like gatekeepers which are maintained by good bacteria. The loss of this intestinal lining leads to increased intestinal permeability allowing all the toxins, undigested food particles, bad bacteria which otherwise would have been avoided into the bloodstream. Now you understand these toxins and inflammatory proteins once into your bloodstream will be distributed into blood vessels and into capillaries.
The unwanted bacteria release few chemicals like free phenol and p-cresol metabolites which can increase the free radicals. These toxins can access the blood circulation and accumulate in the skin causing eruptions or inflammation of the skin. There are many pathways through which the gut dysbiosis can cause inflammation causing acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis which is beyond the context of this blog.
Stress, anxiety and depression alters the gut-brain axis which alters the gut microbiota causing secretion of inflammatory cytokines, heightened immune responses and altered neuropeptides (certain protein responsible for nerve stimulation) causing systemic inflammation. Hence it’s not just food that impacts your GUT but also stress, emotions, sleep too. This is basically why it’s vital to address your GUT Health while you are at work to beautify your skin. If you only work superficially on your skin without addressing lifestyle and eating habits, the job is half done.
How does improving your digestion improve your skin health?
Improving your digestion can reduce the output of toxic waste. This can tremendously reduce the burden of excess immune reactions and systemic inflammation. When your introduce diversity into your meals by which I mean introducing local and variety of vegetables, wholegrains and fruits thats absolutely works in sync with your your digestive pattern, it improves your GUT bacteria ratio. The GUT bacteria thrives on dietary fibre and releases few fatty acids which helps in improving your GUT lining. Also nutrient dense food can help reduce free radicals and toxins through a good dose of antioxidants.
This article is written by Nisha Salian – founder @ HealthSutra. Nisha is a Registered Nutritionist and Integrated Health Coach specialising in Gut & Hormonal Health.