The health of the skin at any given time is the result of a combination of things. From genetics and hormones to diet and nutrition, the skin is often a reflection of what is happening internally within the body. So, it should come as no surprise that an unhealthy gut can reveal itself through various skin conditions.
Robust gut health with thriving good bacteria is the foundation for a strong immune system, quality sleep and overall healthy glowing skin. A well-balanced gut can also help ward off potential complexion concerns.
Our gut microbiome is an evolved and complex ecosystem. Our modern lifestyles often comes with detrimental effects on your gut bacteria and microbiome. Everyday exposure to things like alcohol, gluten, stress, and exposure to toxins and medication, particularly antibiotics, can lead to immune, mood and skin issues.
Maintaining a well-functioning gut by feeding the good bacteria and looking after the lining of the gut will go a long way towards counterbalancing the impacts of modern life and in turn look after your health.
A Gut overview
The gut is responsible for processing all nutrients that are consumed and houses most of the bacteria in the body. The body contains trillions of microorganisms that outnumber human cells by a 10 to one margin, and the largest number of microbes can be found in the large and small intestine.
Microorganisms in the microbiome exist to aid digestion, stimulate the immune system, break down potentially toxic food compounds, and synthesize certain vitamins and amino acids critical to human living. Maintaining optimal health means having enough good bacteria to counteract the bad bacteria. While each person has a unique microbiome that is initially determined by genetics, it can ultimately be impacted by environmental factors like diet, medical history, stress and more.
In the gut, bacterial imbalances are linked to inflammatory conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea, and constipation. And gut issues can also manifest in other parts of the body. Overgrowth of bacteria in the gut, also known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), has been linked to both acne and rosacea in several research studies.
Common signs of an unhealthy gut include:
- Upset stomach
- Sugar cravings
- Skin problems
- Food intolerances
- Autoimmune conditions
The Relationship Between the Gut and the Skin
The Gut-Skin Axis may be a newer reference you’ve heard of & it’s essentially linking the relationship between gut health and skin health. It has been clinically proven that when digestive balance is off the gut becomes overrun with bad bacteria, which can lead to skin-aggravating inflammation. This inflammation can cause acne, redness, sensitivity, and even the breakdown of collagen, which can cause wrinkles.
A recent study from Frontiers in Microbiology concluded that — through complex immune mechanisms — the gut microbiome influences distant organ systems, including the skin. Through modulations of ‘good’ bacteria (think: probiotics and prebiotics), they have found proven benefits in the prevention and/or treatment of inflammatory skin disorders, like acne vulgaris, atopic eczema, and rosacea.
Why are Prebiotics & Probiotics Important?
Prebiotic foods are non-digestible food ingredients that contain live strains of bacteria that cannot be digested or absorbed into the human body. Instead, they act as a catalyst that stimulates and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. In other words, these foods fuel the good bacteria in your gut which then provides beneficial nutrients for your body. Prebiotics are found in many fruits such as apples, bananas & berries and in many vegetables such as asparagus, onions & peas. They are also extremely high in fibre in specific complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, sweet potato or legumes.
Benefits of prebiotics include reduced cholesterol, stronger gut wall health and immune system, promoting regular bowel function and regular blood sugar levels, and most importantly fuelling the brain and the body.
Probiotic foods on the other hand already contain living bacteria and micro-organisms and are consumed to directly add to the population of healthy good bacteria in your body. Probiotics are usually found in many fermented foods as they can produce their own bacteria. These include fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. They are also found in fermented dairy goods such as yoghurt and some types of cheese.
Benefits of probiotics include lower risk of allergies, lower stress levels and improvements in sleep, improvements in skin and mood, easier pregnancies and prevention of many diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and preventions of cancers such as prostate and stomach.
Here are 3 ways to Improve Your Gut Health for Glowing Skin
At birth, your microbiome is the result of genetics, but external factors come into play as soon a person begins interacting with the outside world. As such, environmental changes can have both positive and negative effects on the gut. Here are three ways to improve gut health.
A High-Fibre Diet
High-fibre foods are beneficial to the quality of bacteria in the way the body digests dietary fibre in the large intestine. This lowers the pH of the colon and limits the growth of harmful microbes. High-fibre, prebiotic-rich foods can be found in the raw form of the allium family (i.e. garlic, onions, and leeks), in addition to bananas, nuts & whole grains to name a few.
In addition to a well-balanced diet, a regular fitness routine and good sleep schedule will help keep the entire body (including the gut) operating optimally.
Inner health and wellness give you glowing skin. And a diet that avoids/limits dairy, sugar, gluten, and alcohol while increasing the intake of healthy proteins, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables, will help improve the appearance & health of your skin.
Another thing to consider? Your antibiotic intake. Antibiotics are designed to kill bad bacteria, but they also damage the microbiome by wiping out a significant number of ‘good’ bacteria. After a course of antibiotics, it can take months and even years to restore the beneficial gut bacteria that is lost. Consulting with a board certified provider will ensure you receive the best course of treatment.
Ingestible and Topical Probiotics
Consuming and applying probiotics is another avenue to take to improve both gut and skin health. While there are countless probiotic supplements on the market, there is no shortage of foods with naturally occurring probiotic properties. Fermented foods and drinks like kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso are just a few of nature’s probiotic sources.
Probiotics are natural, good-for-you bacteria that work to improve your health, both inside and out. While ingestible probiotics balance the gut microbiome, topical probiotics in skincare have been shown to soothe and calm skin inflammation for virtually every skin type (i.e. sensitive, dry, oily, acne prone).
Topical probiotics are clinically proven to reduce the appearance of inflammation and can also help to reduce the appearance of redness and irritation, which helps improve the skin’s clarity and tone. Topical probiotics help defend the skin against age-accelerating environmental stressors and free radicals, which can help the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Additionally, research shows certain skin conditions can be effectively treated with good bacteria. “It has been found that using oral and topical probiotics to restore the normal gut and skin flora is helpful in treating acne and rosacea.
AMPERNA® Skincare Range
AMPERNA® is in fact the first Australian brand to bring you a full range of probiotic skincare products, and the first to use this probiotic strain in any Australian skincare product.
Using a combination of natural active ingredients, along with tried and tested ingredients of modern science, the hero ingredient in the AMPERNA® range is the active probiotic complex, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate. This probiotic complex helps support the skin barrier; helping to protect you from aggressions such as environmental pollutants, helps keep your immune system in check and helps reduce inflammation. In short, it acts as a protective layer on the skin, helps boost healthy looking skin and helps calm & soothe skin.
When it comes to skin health, Kiri, founder of AMPERNA®, helps many people suffering from a variety of skin & health conditions. You can book a Holistic Skin Coaching Service to discuss your skin concerns and develop a tailored plan to work towards healthy skin.
Also be sure to check out a great blog post written by Naturopath and Clinical Nutritionist Pernille Jensen (The Gut Co) on how your gut health & skin are connected.