“All disease begins in the gut”
2500 years ago this is what the father of medicine said. He believed that a healthy gut will lead to an overall improvement in health and an unhealthy gut will lead to a variety of diseases. According to modern medical science, he is right to a great extent.
In this blog, we will explore the gut-skin axis, skin issues related to the gut, and how to heal from them.
Before we dive into the details, let’s understand some fun facts about our gut:
- Its major function is to breakdown the food and the absorption of nutrients
- It excretes waste substances from the body
- About 70% of the immune cells live in the gut
- The gut has its own nervous system with about 100 million neurons located in the gut
- The microbiome of the gut includes all the bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. It is now considered its own organ.
- The gut and the brain are directly linked through the vagus nerve.
As we can see that the gut is one of the most crucial organs that connect to various others in a significant way.
The Gut-Skin Axis
Similar to the direct communication that happens between the gut and the brain via the gut-brain axis, scientists have also discovered a connection between the gut and the skin.
As research suggests, “The connection between the skin and gut mediates the immune system. The interaction of the microorganisms and the host immune system is important to maintain skin homeostasis. The gut–skin axis is an integral part of the gut–brain–skin axis.”
When an organ like the gut contains 70% of the immune system, it is natural to understand that it is going to be key in regulating an organ like the skin.
Just like the gut, our skin also has a microbiome of its own. Its function is to make sure that no harmful elements will enter the body. But this microbiome is not completely independent. It connects to the gut’s microbiome. So it is understandable that if the skin is showing inflammation of any kind, then the gut is also inflamed or is not able to function properly.
This connection between the gut and the skin that happens due to the immune system and the microbiome is known as the gut-skin axis.
Skin Issues Linked to the Gut Health
The skin is the largest organ of our human body. It’s tasked to prevent anything harmful that can enter and damage our insides. It is the first and the strongest line of defense. But this brilliant organ needs care for it to take care of us. Hence it is the gut’s responsibility to support the skin’s microbiome in fighting harmful external pathogens.
Our skin is great at communicating with us. It will tell us if they are having a good time or if they need something to change. Rashes, breakouts, inflammation, and more such signs can be a hint that your skin is not having a good time.
But one of the challenges here is to be sure that these issues are happening as a direct result of an unhealthy gut. This is because some of the same symptoms can occur without any relation to the gut. They may be happening due to some toxins or pathogens that the skin might have come in contact with.
Regardless of that, we still know that about 34% of people who have these skin issues also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
So let’s look into what are these issues that your gut might be responsible for.
Rosacea is a skin condition where particularly the cheeks and the nose becomes red. People with IBS are 12 times more likely to have rosacea.
This occurs when there is an imbalance in the gut microbiotas and other immunological factors. Specifically, in patients with rosacea, there is an excess of the Campylobacter bacteria. The link between gut health and rosacea is the strongest as compared to all other diseases.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes redness, itchiness, and inflammation. It can be a complex skin condition to diagnose and treat since it gets triggered due to a myriad of reasons.
Yet one of the biggest reasons for eczema is still the inflammation of the gut or the leaky gut. If eczema is happening due to the gut, then one of the best things can be to look back on everything that you ate to find items that may have triggered it. Gluten and dairy are some of the food groups that can cause eczema through the gut.
Acne can also have various reasons behind it. It can be anything from bad contact to poor gut health. This is also a highly common skin condition and has been particularly studied by biologists and dermatologists.
Psoriasis is a condition similar to eczema but it also makes the skin flaky and scaly. This is due to the rapid generation of skin layers linked to the inflammation of the gut. This inflammation is due to the leak of endotoxins and other compounds which makes the immune system overreact.
How To Heal The Gut
Now that we know what the gut-skin axis is and how it can affect our skin we must learn how to heal if we observe such issues.
Here are some of the ways you can take care of your gut:
A Balanced and Nutritious Diet
We were all taught this as kids, but somehow we find it difficult to maintain a balanced diet. A balanced diet includes all the different food groups and must always contain a good quantity of fruits and vegetables. This is because gut bacterias are fond of variety in their diet.
Reducing sugar, high-fat foods, gluten, and more such foods can help in reducing gut issues. And food with high fiber can help the gut regulate its microbiome properly.
Get Enough Sleep
This is a piece of great advice in general but becomes crucial when we are discussing gut health. A good night of sleep is going to give all the time and energy to the gut to work at its best. This is because most of the digestion happens during the night. And if there isn’t enough sleep it can cause problems.
Eating Slowly and Properly
We do eat many times a day but we may have picked up the improper way of eating. We need to chew the food completely and we need to take our time while eating meals. The digestion process needs your help to be with why making sure that the food entering the stomach is right for digestion.
Hydration Is A Must
In a previous blog, we covered how hydration is crucial for the well-being of your skin. And we would like to mention that your gut needs an ample amount of water. Without enough water, the gut cannot flush out harmful bacteria. These bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal infections.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics are found in carbs that are high in fiber and the gut bacteria love to digest them.
Probiotics are the live bacteria found in certain food groups. This is a good kind of bacteria that the gut needs to function perfectly.
Prebiotic and probiotic foods and supplements have proven to be effective in healing a bad gut and maintaining its health.
Examples of foods that contain probiotics include yogurt, kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, some pickles, and more.
Examples of foods that contain prebiotics are oats, berries, citrus fruits, garlic, onion, leafy greens, and more.
And if you’re thinking of taking supplements of prebiotics and probiotics it is best to consult your doctor.
Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
The first step is to check for foods that you might be intolerant towards. You may be intolerant to certain foods if you are facing symptoms like stomach ache, bloating, diarrhea, excessive gas, nausea, acid reflux, and more. It is now best to consult with a doctor to be sure of your intolerance. And once you know it, it would be best to avoid such foods that cause inflammation.
Processed foods, gluten, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and preservatives are also responsible for the inflammation of the gut. And so it is best to avoid them.
A healthy inside is going to reflect a healthy outside. This is what the gut-skin axis has established.
This is why we must be mindful of what we consume and be vigilant if we face any symptoms on our skin. It is highly advised that if you are facing the symptoms mentioned above you need to contact your doctor.
We wish you a healthy and radiant life!
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