Do you remember the skin of your childhood? It is just one of the many parts of your body that may have functioned better in early life. It was probably soft, smooth and blemish free. We all want to have healthy looking skin. And healthy looking skin is not just aesthetic – it may tell us something about the health inside as well. Among the longest-running microbiome research projects at Fred Hutch are dietary studies that look at chemicals that are released when different communities of microbes break down foods in the gut.
What has changed as you age so you no longer have the skin of a child? So many things, of course – exposure to the environment, stress, hormonal changes, medication, diet. And some of these we may have minimal control over. But there are imbalances in the body that you can improve that may be leading to chronic skin symptoms such as acne, eczema, dermatitis or rosacea.
You may be familiar with how diet impacts some of these conditions: a food allergy causing eczema or a high sugar diet leading to acne. But have you thought about how the overall health of your gut may be impacting these symptoms as well? Is it too late to have childlike skin again? Maybe, but there are choices you can make that will help you to have clear, glowing, healthy looking skin.
The gut-skin connection
In addition to the connection between your gut and your brain or your weight, there is also a connection between your gut and your skin. Researchers as far back as the 1940’s realized this connection and today we have more support for the importance of keeping the gut healthy to promote healthy skin as well.
Today studies have shown that those with acne were more likely to experience constipation, gastric reflux and bloating. It is believed that the alteration of specific gut bacteria and increased intestinal permeability of the lining of the gut may be a pathway to explain the relationship between gut and skin dysfunction. In some research, introduction of specific strains of bacteria were shown to have beneficial effects on inflammation on the skin and skin homeostasis.
Improving your gut health for healthier skin
Simple choices can make a big difference:
- Reduce sugar intake focusing on real whole foods rather than processed foods rich in added sugars.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables choosing foods vibrant in color like blueberries, strawberries, broccoli and spinach.
- Choose foods rich in nourishing omega-3 fats such as salmon, tuna, sardines, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
- Choose probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut or kimchi.
- Feed those good probiotics with prebiotics including leafy green vegetables, onions, and whole grains.
- Add a probiotic supplement if that is right for you.
- Consider what is causing inflammation in your body – specific foods, overweight, chronic stress – and make changes as possible to reduce overall inflammation.
Each person is different. The reason for inflammation leading to skin symptoms will vary for each individual and therefore the best route for healing the gut and eliminating the symptoms will differ as well. But many of these recommendations will create benefits for every individual. When you choose a diet rich in whole foods and eliminate processed foods you are giving your gut the nutrients and fiber it needs to function at its best. You will not only eliminate the digestive symptoms of constipation and reflux but will create healing needed for healthy glowing skin too.
If you are tired of living with skin symptoms – take these first steps to heal. Checking out the symptoms is very important before applying any remedy.
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