ASK THE EXPERT: The Gut Skin Connection

When it comes to skin health, more and more studies are linking healthy, glowing skin to a healthy, balanced gut. And, conversely, show that a disrupted gut biome can also trigger immune response and inflammation that results in skin-related challenges.

Part of my own Lyme Disease struggle is exactly this. Inflammation that wreaks havoc from the inside out and often causes skin issues that, frankly, drive me crazy! Once I was educated on the gut / immune connection it really opened my eyes and challenged me (continuously) to try and make healthier food choices.  I don’t always get that right, but small steps have really shown to be powerful for my healing.

What I’ve learned through the counsel of my dermatologist, integrative doctors, Lyme specialists and nutritionists is that no product on our skincare shelf can replace the benefits of a healthy gut. 

Our gut microbiome is often the center point in helping to calm inflammation, increase barrier support and promote cell regeneration. All things that create a healthy glow from within!

Today, we talked about this with Dr. Daisey Anglow, a licensed naturopathic physician with a passion for the gut healing process, to get a few tips on simple ways we can be mindful of this connection.

Dr. Daisy Anglow

How does your gut health affect your skin?

It’s important to remember that the diversity of organisms in the intestines varies across human populations, cultures and even among healthy individuals over time. The gut microbiome changes over the first three years after birth and is influenced by our genetics, diet, our environment and medication use.

Increased intestinal permeability (a.k.a leaky gut) triggers the immune system, most of which begins in our gut as well, causing an activation of inflammatory cells (T-cells) which can leading to systemic inflammation and disruption to the skin balance. 

Another theory I've researched is that increased intestinal permeability associated with altered gut flora can allow for direct migration of inflammatory products into the blood circulation, causing overall body inflammation.  For some it can be a skin rash, others joint pain, headaches or even difficult menstrual cycles.

Working to heal an imbalanced gut can and should be the first step towards healing your skin and improving your health. But, before running to the store to grab a probiotic/prebiotic thinking it will instantly heal your skin, please know that there are differences among probiotics/prebiotics depending on the species, genus, or whether they are a spore-former or not. It is very important to consult your medical professional and a nutrionist to identify the proper supplement mix for your body's needs.

Three Simple Tips for Inside Out Glow

Exercise Matters. Even Just a Little! When we exercise, blood flow increases, the lymphatic system is stimulated and toxins are more easily removed from the body. Through exercise, there is an increase in cellular oxygenation that gives us that healthy skin glow we crave as more nutrients are delivered to our cells.

Food Can Be Beauty. Eat foods high in omegas like Cod Liver Oil and Salmon. If you are a vegetarian, certain mushrooms help with microbiome balance. Filling up on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and fermented foods (like kefir and kimchi) can help promote healthy microbial diversity. Also never underestimate the importance of proper hydration! Drinking lots of water through the day can not only help with detox, but also works from the inside out to plump and hydrate our skin.

Get Sleep!! Lack of proper rest can trigger, you guessed it, internal inflammation amongst other things, which can again lead to unhappy skin. Beauty rest is called that for a reason! As we sleep our body helps to heal and balance itself from the inside out. 

Note: Dr. Daisey Anglow is a licensed Naturopathic Physician practicing in Tempe, Arizona. Dr. Anglow has been compensated for her time away from work to consult on this article but all opinions and advice are her own. Ask the Expert tips are for informational purposes only. Always consult your trusted medical practitioner to determine the best routine for you.