We all long for that healthy glowing skin. But when it comes to getting that healthy skin glow, there is more to a sweep of Vitamin C or a splash of hyaluronic acid, however wonderful though they may be for that lit-from-within glowing beautiful skin. Although your skincare routine is as important, what’s goes on way below the surface in your gut may be just as, if not more important. Yes, your skin has lot to do with your gut health. Hence, supporting your gut health could be a key part of being beautiful from within that extends to achieving healthy glowing skin as a compliment to your beauty regime.

The importance of our gut health is nothing new, but not much was talked about its association with skin health in the past. Gut health however has risen to prominence in health, fitness and skin care areas in recent years. We are becoming highly aware that our overall health starts in our gut and gut microbiome being the key player in orchestrating our overall wellbeing.

Gut Microbiome

What is gut microbiome you ask. Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea that influence array of physiological functions in our bodies including immune system functions. Our gut, primarily colon (large intestine) plays host to tens of trillions of microorganisms with at least 1000 different species of known bacteria and over three million genes. More organisms live in your microbiome than cells in your entire body. This whole collection of microorganisms in our gut and their genes is what makes up our gut microbiome.

Gut microbiome works together with our other bodily systems to support our immunity, efficient digestion, ensure our body absorbs nutrients effectively and disposes of waste regularly. Gut microbiome not only supports our digestive & immune health – but also has implications for our mental, hormonal and external health. Therefore, it’s super important to get your digestive health in check to feel well and of course, experience clear, glowing skin.

Gut-Skin Axis

Skin, the largest organ in the body can often reflect our internal health due its constant dialogue with our gut. Hence, skin is a great indicator for what’s going on inside the gut. Scientists have found links between gut health and skin issues including eczema, rosacea and acne. A study confirms that those who suffered from acne were more likely to experience gastrointestinal issues such as bloating and constipation, both of which can be attributed to unbalanced levels of good and bad bacteria in the gut (gut dysbiosis). Similar results were reported by others. A 2017 study observed that individuals with rosacea have a higher incidence of gastrointestinal disease, and a 2012 study found that patients with IBD may experience lesions and other skin disorders.

When we have an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in our microbiome aka gut dysbiosis, it will often lead to digestive issues and inflammation. And inflammation often presents itself as red, sensitive skin, wrinkles, rashes, and even acne. And that’s only when it comes to your skin. So, it’s only sensible to add gut health into your skin care routine and work toward a balanced gut, better digestion, excellent overall wellbeing and healthier glowing skin.

Dietary and Lifestyle Strategies to Support your Gut Health

  • Manage stress
    Stress has a huge impact on gut microbiome. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga have all been linked to improvements in gut health.
  • Love your gut – Eat healthy & varied diet
    Given that food is a major determinant of the health of our microbiome, making smarter food choices is the most vital step. People who eat 30 different plant foods per week have a much more diverse and abundant gut microbiome than those who eat 10 or less. So, try to incorporate wide variety of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds in your diet each week.
    To keep the gut health in shape it is imperative to feed the gut microbiome with dietary prebiotic fibres. Prebiotic dietary fibres feed the friendly microbial members in the gut to produce various beneficial metabolites which in turn keep the gut environment healthy and consequently the rest of the bodily systems in check.
    Seed your gut microbiome by eating plenty of probiotic-rich fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, cultured milk, tempeh, kefir etc that contain many different species and strains of beneficial bacteria.
    Reduce or eliminate intake of refined and ultra-proceed foods. High intakes of these foods are associated with reduced abundance and diversity of the gut microbiome and increased inflammation. Try to make them the exception rather than the rule.
  • Get body moving
    Keep your body active by getting some exercise. It doesn’t matter what movement you do, it’s consistency that is key. Find something you enjoy and do it regularly.
  • Keep hydrated
    Skin that’s dehydrated can lack a little glow and feel tight, dry and flaky. However, by focusing on hydration you can support healthy glowing skin. Keeping hydrated is extremely important when it comes to gut health also. Drink plenty of water daily. This is because it encourages the passage of waste through your digestive system and helps soften stools. It’s good practice to have a glass of water with every meal. Get glugging!

What you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream in as little as 30 minutes. It is important to appreciate that our skin has its own microbiome as well. So, it’s important to pay special consideration on what ingredients are in the skincare you are using and how that may be affecting your skin and overall health as well. It’s always best to opt for clean, non-toxic ingredients when it comes to skin care products

The Bottom Line

Your skin is a reflection of your overall health. Having a healthy, balanced and diverse gut microbiome is non-negotiable to keep you healthy. When your life is in balance – getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, getting regular exercise, and stress is managed, your skin glows. A little effort into your lifestyle & dietary choices goes a long way when it comes to supporting your gut health and your skin.

By Dr Tanvi Shinde, PhD