When it comes to holistic health, it’s widely believed that all roads lead back to the gut. Home to the microbiome, an ecosystem containing trillions of bacterial strains and microbes, the gut is responsible for supporting the vast majority of our immune system. A balanced gut is vital for our overall health. It helps us handle stress, perfect our sleep pattern, protect us from pathogens, regulate autoimmune responses and assist with digestion, and, surprise surprise, it’s closely linked to our skin.
Many experts consider the skin a window to the gut, or a signal of what’s going on deep within the gut microbiome. In fact, the two are in constant communication, a relationship known as the gut-skin axis (we’ve already spoken about the mind-skin axis here). That’s why maintaining a healthy gut is absolutely fundamental for the wellbeing of our skin.
But if the gut falls a bit off-kilter? Well, that can lead to conditions such as a leaky gut (where the intestinal barrier is damaged resulting in an altered gut bacterial composition), which can not only compromise the barrier function of the skin, but it can also cause skin conditions such as acne vulgaris, rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis.
We should note here that the gut isn’t the only organ to have its own microbiome, the skin has one too, which we’ve gone into more detail on here. And in recent years, you’ve probably heard a lot about the skin microbiome from the skincare industry. From Aurelia to Gallinee, we’ve seen so many probiotic serums, creams and cleansers hit the shelves, each promising to address the bacteria balance of our complexions. And while we actually like so many of these products, the problem is that the research behind whether they can actually positively affect skin health isn’t quite there yet.
Now for the good news! Anyone is capable of developing a strong and functional microbiota; it’s not related to genetics or DNA, but rather our diet (and lifestyle). So when our Skin Mentors speak to clients who are concerned that their gut is playing games with their skin, we always look at the full picture to figure out if things like stress, low vitamin D levels, antibiotics or poor diet could be to blame. Then, we recommend caring for the microbiome living in your gut directly by feeding it a diverse range of probiotics. These can be food-based (think: kefir, kimchi, yoghurt and kombucha) or you can add them to your diet through supplements. Below we’ve highlighted a few for you to look into.
But the next step in understanding your own gut-skin axis? Booking in for a Holistic Skin Session with one of our Skin Mentors. A key pillar of our training program, they’ll be able to delve much deeper into the topic with you, so you can make sure you’re optimising your gut microbiome (and thus your skin!) in the best way possible.