The Gut-Skin Axis
In my naturopathic medical practice, I believe that in order to optimize your health, you need to optimize your gut. This is especially true when treating common inflammatory skin complaints such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Research has termed the link between our gastrointestinal health and skin homeostasis as the Gut-Skin Axis and as it turns out, the bacteria that reside within our gut play a large role in mediating this relationship.
How can your gut health impact your skin?
Gut dysbiosis, a state of microbial imbalance, has been seen to impair skin barrier integrity causing permeability. Skin barrier disruption results in an immune response that is pro-inflammatory in nature. A disruption in our gastrointestinal barrier, popularly known as leaky gut, also has been seen to cause microbiota metabolites to gain access to the blood stream resulting in an accumulation in the skin-disrupting skin integrity.
What can disrupt our gut health and impacts our skin?
Anything that impacts the composition of our gut microbiota or disrupts the integrity of our gut lining will have an impact on our skin homeostasis. The most common offenders are the following:
- Antibiotic Use
- Gastrointestinal Infection
- Food Sensitivities
- Low stomach acid (HCL) and digestive enzymes
- Diets high in sugar and processed foods
- Low fiber diets
What can you do?
When treating inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea, it is important to reset, restore and optimize gut health and function. I often test individuals gut microbiota composition, digestive/absorptive function, inflammatory and immunity markers as well as vitamin B12 and iron levels when treating skin conditions. Depending on your case, hormone testing may also be required to ensure there isn’t a hormonal imbalance, this is typically more related to acne depending on your presentation.
Keep your gut microbiome happy with probiotic rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha and kefir as well as soluble fibers like flax and avocado. Depending on the results of your gut health/functional assessment, you may also require supplemental probiotic specified to your imbalance and condition. There are certain strains of bacteria that have been seen to impact different types of skin conditions, so I always say that in order to gain the most benefit from your health investment, be as individualized as specific as you can.
Dr. Mallory Harris, ND
* The information presented in this article is intended solely for educational purposes and is not medical advice. You must always speak with your health care provider before beginning or modifying any approach to managing your health including diet, vitamins, minerals and botanicals. In no event shall Dr. Mallory Harris, ND, ESM clinics or Balance Fitness be liable in any manner for direct, indirect, incidental or punitive consequences that may arise from the access or use of this article.