By Abigail Hueber
If the eyes are the window to your soul, then the skin could be considered the window to your gut. Humor me for a moment, imagine that inside your gut is an incredibly populated city. In general, individuals and families will choose to live in a city that provides them an environment that supports a good quality of life. This most likely is a city that has resources for those people to thrive, such as jobs, a safe environment, healthcare and good schools.
If you were to picture this type of city in your mind, it would probably house a happy and productive population with a clean and safe environment, am I right? While on the other side of the spectrum, a city that lacks jobs, has a struggling school system, no proper access to healthcare and an unsafe environment would most likely not top the charts for places to live and raise a family and would impact the likelihood of it being an extremely productive and thriving city. A city’s environment impacts its population which impacts its ability to thrive, this is not unlike the connection between our gut and our skin. The environment or health of our gut establishes the foundation for our whole body’s health; housing our digestion, absorption, immune response and most importantly our gut bacteria which all have tremendous impact our skins ability to thrive.
The health of our skin is inextricably linked to the health of our gut. Our gut is the city and our skin is the result of that city’s overall function. When our gut’s health or function is impaired, our skin is more likely to reflect that disfunction.
Now we obviously don’t have people living in our gut, but we do have billions and billions of bacteria. The bacterial inhabitants of our gut create what is known as our microbiome, an intricate network of billions of varying bacterial strains that construct the environment of our gut. Just like a city, this environment houses all walks of life from the good to the bad, the key feature of a healthy gut environment is balance. Too much crime, or in the case of our gut an unhealthy lifestyle, pave the way for the opportunistic unhealthy bacteria and yeast to tip the balance leaving little to no room for healthy bacteria.
Not only do unhealthy bacteria and yeast overcrowd our gut and produce harmful toxins, but they also disrupt the primary function of our gut which is to provide a protective barrier against the external environment. When our guts barrier is weak or “leaky”, this allows for more aggravating proteins and toxins to get into our body and bloodstream increasing inflammation and irritation in many parts of our body including our skin.
So what does the research say?
An imbalance in the guts microbiome environment has been shown to impact the physical, chemical and antimicrobial defense system of our skin. In short, an imbalance in healthy bacteria can impact the amount of inflammation, infection and irritation expressed externally on our skin. The guts health is not the cause for all skin conditions; however, it can play a significant role in the severity and aggravation of skin conditions.
Two of the most common skin conditions, acne and seborrheic dermatitis, have been linked to disruptions in the balance of the microbiome. This link is so significant that a Russian study found that of 114 patients with acne, 54% of those had impaired microflora or an imbalance in their gut bacteria. This suggests the guts health can impact the external expression of skin irritations. Skin that is fed from an imbalanced gut has a significantly higher chance of showing irritation than a gut that is balanced.
So what happens if we improve the bacterial health and balance in our gut?
Well it’s no new story. One of the first published studies dates all the way back to 1961 when a physician named Robert Siver treated 300 patients experiencing acne with lactobacilli, a commonly used strain of probiotic. Of those treated 80% showed clinical improvement. Many more recent studies have continued to further support the significance of a healthy gut microbiome for optimal skin health. A balanced gut is the foundation of our bodies digestion, absorption and nourishment, it is the superhighway for nutrient delivery which our skin needs in order to thrive.
What can we do now?
Keep your city clean! Launch your own campaign to beautify and balance your gut environment for optimal skin heath.
Here are some of the best ways to promote a healthy community gut bacteria:
Nourish your gut to nourish your skin! Your are the Mayor of your own city!