When it comes to what we eat and how it affects our skin, it turns out that there could be a connection. However, how it works may be more complicated than you might think. As it turns out, the real focus of our efforts should be supporting overall gut health and a healthy gut microbiome.
If you’ve heard these terms before and are curious as to what they have to do with your skin, keep reading. Here is what you need to know:
The Gut, The Brain, and The Skin, Oh My! - Key Concepts About Gut Health
In order to really get to the bottom of why gut health is so important, the idea in a nutshell is that all of our body systems are interconnected. Whenever one system lacks proper support or becomes out of balance for any reason, it can trigger a domino effect that impacts all of your other systems.
More recently, experts across the fields of medicine, dermatology, neuroscience, and psychology have begun to recognize that our digestive system - also known as “the gut” - could be one of the most fundamental systems, linked to everything from our mental health to our complexion. To better understand how it works, let’s break it down a little, piece by piece:
● The Gut - Referring to your entire gastrointestinal tract, “the gut” has become a blanket term for a complex system consisting of your stomach, esophagus, large and small intestines. The gut is responsible for all functions related to digestion, including breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, distributing them to the bloodstream, and fueling other body networks by proxy.
● The Gut Microbiome - When it is healthy and functioning properly, your gut is home to a variety of good bacteria, as well as immune cells for defending the body against bad bacteria, viruses, and other invaders that may compromise your health. This mixture of organisms is also sometimes called your gut flora.
● Gut Health - The GI Tract is a very advanced system, and is always at work trying to achieve optimal function. However, inflammation caused by stress, poor diet, certain medications, and toxins in our environment can lead to an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria and compromise your gut health. Some physical symptoms of an unhealthy gut include poor immunity, digestive issues, stomach problems, as well as fatigue or lack of energy.
● The Gut/Brain Connection - Besides your physical well-being, your gut plays a role in your mental health, sending signals to the brain via nerves and hormones. Unfortunately, because these two things are linked, poor gut health can have a negative effect on your moods, and can even contribute to more chronic issues like anxiety and depression.
Bringing it All Together: The Gut to Skin Axis
Taking into account all of the above, it only makes sense that when it comes to your body’s largest organ - the epidermis - your gut health has serious implications for your skin.
Just like your intestinal tract, the skin has its own microbiome made up of bacteria, and other microorganisms that work together to protect itself against external stressors. However, when your internal immunity becomes compromised as a result of a struggling digestive system, skin immunity begins to suffer along with it.
In fact, many of our modern-day skin concerns can be attributed to inflammation in the body and gut system including acne, rosacea, eczema, rashes, and other cosmetic concerns such as dullness, dryness, and discoloration. Even in cases where there may be another primary cause for these skin conditions, gut health is often a secondary factor in that it impacts your skin’s ability to adequately restore and repair itself.
So how can we go about promoting better gut balance for our health and a glowing complexion? Check out our recommendations below.
Supporting Your Skin with Good Gut Health: Practical Tips to Promote Balance
- Focus on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods - The most balanced diet is one that allows you to be flexible, so avoiding anything overly-restrictive is best. However, if a healthy gut is the goal, you may find it especially helpful to seek out foods that fuel your body with a variety of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. All of these elements are necessary to support proper synergy for your digestive tract and other body systems.
- Pay attention to foods that can cause inflammation - If you’re noticing signs of inflammation in your skin such as acne, redness, sensitivity, and other reactivity, these symptoms can be linked to consuming inflammatory foods in excess. Although everyone’s body is different, a good experiment for your skin may be to reduce your intake of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and fried foods - all of which are commonly linked to inflammation.
- Consider some troubleshooting supplements - Besides a healthy diet, some people struggling with poor gut health find it beneficial to incorporate certain supplements for boosting immunity in the gut. Some popular options include prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Or you might look into holistic staples like bone broth and adaptogenic herbs such as ashwagandha or schisandra.
- Keep emotional stress in check - For a simple way to support wellness on multiple levels, mindful habits like meditation, journaling, talk therapy, yoga, mental health walks, or other movement can do a lot to reduce chronic stress in your body and boost your brain. At Bellavana, we also believe in soothing stress with regular self care. For example, you might enjoy treating yourself to a weekly at-home spa ritual with our Self Love Bundle or Spa Essentials Bundle.
Final Takeaway: It’s All About Balance
While all of this information can feel like a lot to digest (pun intended), the most important thing to try to remember is that the best lifestyle is always going to be a balanced one. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Knowing that it’s all connected, even the smallest steps and subtle changes can do a lot to improve your health, inside and out. So, start where you can, and be patient with the process. Bellavana is rooting for you!
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