The vital link between a healthy gut and great skin
The skin and gut are tightly linked with a connection called the gut-skin axis. The skin condition reflects the health of the gut. Therefore, any issues on the skin can often be improved simply be improving gut health. There are a few ways in which these two are connected.
Absorption of nutrients
Your gut must be working properly for the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients to be optimal. You may have a great diet, but if you cannot absorb the nutrients you put into your gut, your skin cannot use them.
Many people have a problem with fat absorption, which decreases the rate at which fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E and K are absorbed. Vitamin A is needed for normal skin cell turner, vitamin D for normal inflammation levels, vitamin E is needed to provide protection to the skin from environmental toxins and oxidants including the sun, and vitamin K is needed to strengthen the blood vessels and decrease dark circles around the eyes.
People who have issues with fat absorption may have had their gall bladder removed or have an underlying condition such as coeliac disease which reduces nutrient absorption.
It’s not just fat-soluble vitamins that are affected, however. Nutrients like zinc can also be low in those with poor gut health. Zinc is needed for the normal turnover of skin cells and protection from sun damage. Zinc helps to balance hormones and keep hormonal acne at bay.
Protein absorption must also be good so that the skin has the right building blocks to create and maintain collagen, the main elastic component in skin. If you have issues with absorbing nutrients, you may need to work with a professional to address the root cause.
Elimination of toxinsA healthy gut will eliminate toxins through the bowel effectively. Ideally you should have 2-3 bowel movements per day. When the bowels become clogged and slow, the toxins that are destined for the toilet may become reabsorbed and pushed out through the skin.
This gives the skin a dull appearance, large pores and can contribute towards acne and inflammation of the skin. Aim for 7-9 portions of vegetables and fruit per day plus wholegrains to keep you regular and your skin glowing.
Probiotics, also known as friendly bacteria, are an essential part of a healthy gut, and are just as important for the skin. Probiotics produce a substance called short chain fatty acids which are not only excellent for gut health, but they are also absorbed and find their way to the skin where they provide moisturisation.
Probiotics also promote the elimination of toxins through the bowel, helping to keep your skin healthy and glowing. One of the major nutrients that probiotics produce is vitamin K. In fact, probiotics provide more vitamin K to the body that the average diet. Vitamin K is needed for normal blood flow and a decrease in dark circles around the eyes.
The gut plays a huge role in the regulation of inflammation in the body and on the skin. There is a patch of tissue that sits right below the gut and is called the gut-associated lymphoid-tissue or GALT for short. The GALT stores immune cells which are involved in inflammation in the body, and these immune cells have direct communication with the gut.
If your gut is unhealthy and under functioning, you will experience a higher level of inflammation in the body and on the skin than from a gut that is working well. Inflammation appears in the skin as redness and large pores and keeping your gut in check will help to reduce these symptoms and keep you looking fresh and youthful.