You may have started hearing about the gut-brain axis, as there is now an established link between gut health and mental health, but have you heard of the gut-skin axis? The health of your skin, being your largest organ, is directly related to what is happening in your gut so it is time to start considering what you are putting in your mouth if you are after naturally healthy skin.
Our Diet and our Skin
As you would have read from previous blogs, there are amazing things that happen in our gut that are responsible for the health of all other parts of our body, and the skin is no exception. If we look at indigenous groups in various countries eating their native foods, and studies have shown this, there are no signs of any skin conditions. Unfortunately, as with many other diseases that we see plaguing us in modern western civilisation, these skin conditions are directly related to food and gut health.
Some of the skin conditions that we see in our society now are:
Although covering our skin with medication or makeup may help with these conditions in the short term, it is very important to look for the underlying issues that may be causing them. With 79-95% of adolescents experiencing acne in the western world it is time to start looking at diet, because we do not see the same results outside of the developed world.
For example, the Inuits had no known cases of acne on their native diet (which was rich in probiotic foods) until they transitioned to a western diet. It is now widespread.
The combination of this processed western diet, along with the stress of our modern society, lead to conditions such as leaky gut, which is when we see signs of permeability in our gut lining. This lining is the barrier between the outside world and our insides, and when toxins are allowed to cross, it can create a range of issues both within and outside our body, including skin conditions.
Probiotics and the Skin
Probiotics have been shown to help with skin conditions through two key mechanisms. The first is because they reduce gut permeability, and this can help with the underlying gut health issue. The second is that probiotics can also reduce the production of substance P, which can increase the size sebaceous cells and sebum production. You may have seen skin product advertisements talk about ‘sebum clearing’. Well, this is because if you produce too much sebum it can lead to acne. Sebum’s role though is to provide a moisturising factor for your hair and skin so “sebum clearing” may lead to dry skin, and then more unnatural moisturising is needed. Probably better to look at the underlying issues, let your skin do its own moisturising, and avoid buying products that strip moisture and then others that supposedly put it back in again.
Hydration and You
I will however let you know about a product that is fantastic for increasing moisture within our skin and making it look and feel great, water. Topical moisturisers that feel wonderful when we put them on can only assist in keeping water in our skin that is already there. It is also critical that you are well hydrated to ensure your lymphatic system and bloodstream can do their job of removing toxins from your body and your skin as well as reducing your risk of sickness and disease.
I will save the other effects that a leaky gut and dehydration can have on your system for another blog, as it is a long list, but stress tolerance is on the list and those that are suffering from skin conditions are likely to be in that bucket too. The combination of acne and stress are not what our next generation should have to be dealing with considering everything else on their plate. So please drink lots of water, look after your gut, and it will look after you.