Think back to the last time you had a stomach upset. Was it just your stomach that felt ill or the rest of your body too? You probably felt ‘off’ in general, and that’s because when your gut isn’t up to scratch, the rest of your body isn’t far behind either.
Gut health is vital for the overall wellbeing of the entire body, and it’s certainly not just down to how well you digest your food. Poor gut health can affect how well you deal with emotional upset, how well you sleep, your weight, your immune system, as well as the quality of your skin.
There is a connection that stands between your brain and your gut, and it’s often known as the ‘gut to brain axis’. This all came about after research into how the bacterial makeup of the gut was affected by certain mental health conditions, such as depression. It was found as an incidence that it also affected inflammation within the skin. So, does that mean that as well as a gut to brain axis, there is also a gut to skin axis too?
We all know that if we eat something our stomach doesn’t like, we can come out in a rash, or hives, so surely there’s a link between how well the gut is feeling, and how well the skin is doing too? This is backed up by the fact that there are a few similarities which exist between the bacteria within your gut, and the bacteria found on your skin.
Looking After Your Microbiome
The gut is packed with good and bad bacteria, and there needs to be a balance of the two, in order to maintain harmony and to starve off stomach upsets and conditions, such as IBS. Within the gut, good bacteria stand guard on the digestive wall, stopping toxins and other nasties from entering your stomach, and therefore affecting your entire immune system, which is basically sited within the gut as a result.
Your skin has a similar role to play. Whilst there is good and bad bacteria in your gut, there is good and bad bacteria on the surface of your skin too, although completely invisible to the naked eye. This all creates your entire microbiome, one in the stomach and one on the skin; both need to be happy and working correctly in order for you to feel fit and healthy, and for your skin to be glowing (source).
There is another part of the story when it comes to your immune system, and that is down to avoiding inflammation. When you gut is healthy, the bad bacteria is on its best behaviour, because the good bacteria is running the show. The same goes for the good and bad bacteria on your skin.
The gut is known to affect your immune system (source), as we have mentioned, but it also helps to produce molecule which have an anti-inflammatory effect. When these are present, inflammation levels within your entire body are low. When inflammation is high, it can not only affect your body and give you chronic pain and put you at higher risk of other serious diseases, but it can also increase the chances of your skin being less than glowing, and perhaps even the development of skin conditions, such as acne and eczema.
How to Help Your Gut, And Indirectly, Your Skin
Now we know that the state of your gut affects the state of your skin, how exactly can you give your gut a helping hand? Luckily there are a few ways, but probiotics are a great place to start.
You might have heard of probiotics in the past, but these are certainly popular supplements to add to your daily routine. Of course, you can attempt to get a good probiotic amount in your general diet too, and there are many natural probiotic foods you can try, such as yogurt (make sure it says ‘live and active cultures’ on the label), miso, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, any type of fermented food, traditional buttermilk, to name a few.
Many people struggle to fit these types of foods into their daily routine and that in case, supplements are very popular choices. It’s a good idea to shop around for the best probiotic product, as the supplement world isn’t regulated, and that means finding a good quality product can be hard. If you’re looking for a top rated probiotic supplement, Complete Probiotics by 1MD might be your best bet for potency and strain diversity (source).
There are also many different strains of probiotics. Of course, probiotics are a source of those good bacteria we were talking about earlier, but there are countless different types to choose from. It’s important to do your research into the best strains for your particular condition, or the type of benefit you’re trying to target. You should have a chat with your doctor before you start taking any type of supplement anyway, so this is a good chance to find out which strains could be a good starting point for you. A good general strain, for both gut health and some skin conditions, is L. acidophilus, to name just one.
Most supplements are taken once per day (source), but again, read the label as these can all vary according to instructions. You would then continue to take this over the long-term and you should notice the benefits over time. Remember, the benefits won’t come to you immediately, so you may have to wait a few weeks to see if you’re noticing benefits, before you consider whether to switch strains or products. Shopping around is vital in terms of cost effectiveness too.
The idea that skin and the gut are linked may sound outlandish at first, but when you really delve a little deeper and understand the close connection between the two, and the bacteria which are battling to maintain a healthy balance, you can understand why one affects the other. By keeping your gut healthy, you’re giving your entire body a healthy boost, but as a fantastic side effect, your skin will be thanking you too.