The digestive system was once thought to be a simple system within the body. The food goes in, travels through a long tube, and anything that isn’t absorbed is excreted. Simple enough. But then why has it been the focus of so much scientific research lately?
Researchers have been aware of the gut microbiome for some time. However, it’s only recently that they have become aware of just how impactful this ecosystem of bacteria is on our overall health.
Every person has an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms in their digestive tract. These span across 300 to 500 different species of bacteria. Some of these can be harmful, but most are beneficial and even necessary to the health of your body. They contribute to immunity, cognitive function, weight management, and several other functions in the body — including skin health.
That the health of the gut can influence the health of the skin may seem like quite a leap to make. But scientists wouldn’t make such a claim without the evidence to back it up.
Here’s how it works: disturbances in the gut caused by a poor diet or food allergies may cause increased “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, which can, in turn, irritate the skin.
And your gut and skin have more of a connection than you may think…
The gut and the skin share a lot in common, which contributes to the gut-skin axis. Both the gut and the skin help defend against outside invaders. Additionally, they are large players in the neuroendocrine messaging system, as they have nerves that send and receive signals from the brain with the ability to send messages to other parts of the body.
Another similarity between the two is that the skin has its own microbiome that is just as important to your health as that of the gut microbiome. Although it has not yet been researched quite as much as the gut microbiome, studies have found it to be one of the most diverse microbiomes in the body. The skin flora provides protection by acting as a barrier against potential issues, so it’s important to keep it healthy.
The brain has a role to play as well, causing many to call it the gut-brain-skin axis. In this theory, stress can lead to dysbiosis in the gut. This, in turn, may lead to a poor inflammatory response, which can directly affect the skin.
Because the gut and skin can interact, they also have the ability to influence one another’s health, with the gut having a greater impact on skin health. This is what creates the gut-skin axis.
It’s interesting to know how the gut and skin are connected in a general sense. But how are they connected when it comes to health issues?
Several studies have shown that poor skin health is more common in those with gut issues, and vice versa.
Certain skin problems, like pimples and rashes, have been found to have a direct connection with gut health. Furthermore, supporting the health of the gut has been found to also support clear, smooth, and vibrant skin.
There are many ways you can help boost your gut health and in turn support the health of your skin. Here are ten that can have a positive impact:
Probiotics — probiotics are good bacteria that can improve the health of your gut and other parts of your body (ie. the skin). You can take them as a supplement or get them through fermented foods or yogurt.
Prebiotics — probiotics feed on non-digestible carbohydrates called prebiotics. These can be found in many foods, including bananas, garlic, onions, and whole grains.
Lower sugar and sweetener intake — several studies have found that both sugar and artificial sweeteners contribute to the growth of bad bacteria and can lower the counts of good bacteria.
Reduce stress — research suggests that stress — even short-lived bouts of stress — can create an imbalance in the gut flora, potentially causing issues.
Be mindful of antibiotic intake — antibiotics do a good job of killing harmful bacteria, but they can also destroy good bacteria and disrupt the microbiome. Though absolutely necessary in many cases, if you need to take antibiotics, give your gut the tools to recover by taking in probiotics following your treatment.
Exercise — regular exercise is good for, well, almost everything it seems. Research has found that those who exercise regularly had healthier microbiomes than those who did not exercise. However, it’s important to note that those who exercised likely ate better diets as well.
Get enough sleep — research has shown that irregular and poor sleeping habits can have a negative impact on the microbiome.
Use natural cleaning products — one study looked at infants in homes that used cleaning products with harsh chemicals versus those in homes using natural cleaners. Those in the chemical household had a certain bad strain of bacteria in their gut which resulted in negative health impacts years later.
Avoid smoking — research has shown that smoking increases the population of bad bacteria in the gut while lowering the population of good bacteria.
Eat less meat — vegetarians have been found to have healthier microbiomes than those who routinely eat meat. This is likely due to the fact that vegetarians are more likely to frequently eat vegetables, which contributes to a healthy gut flora.
I hope that some of these tips can help you create a lovely and diverse microbiome that can support the health of your skin.
Did you know that another way to support skin health is through absorbable collagen?
In fact, collagen is a major component of your skin. If you don’t have enough of it, your skin health may be suffering…
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