The Gut & Skin Link
Gut health seems to be a very popular topic at the moment, and rightfully so! Our gut is the root cause of majority of our health concerns, especially when it comes to the skin!
Two years ago I started working in the hospital as a Registered Nurse. I believed I had drew the short straw when I was allocated a full time position on the gastrointestinal ward. I was hoping to be placed on the plastic reconstructive ward so that I could learn all about the skin and its anatomical structure. I believed this would equip me better when treating my patients skin in the cosmetic world.
It turns out the short straw I drew was instead the universes push in the direction of my new found passion and carer and provided me with an abundance of valuable knowledge.
Working on the gastrointestinal ward, taught me the western medical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of bowel complications. I learnt a great deal about the gut, but unfortunately found when it came to treatment, medications were the soul and primary focus.
The gut includes everything from the mouth all the way through to the anus. Its primary responsibility is to absorb the nutrients from our food, house both good and bad bacteria and then excrete any waste from our bodies.
Studies have shown, there is a direct link between both gut and skin health and gut and brain health. We know now that 80 percent of our immune system cells are found in our gut (1). 80 percent! It is any wonder we are noticing a rise in 21st century illness’ such as, food allergies, eczema, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome etc. This is why I place a huge emphasis when treating my patients on the need to heal their skin/bodies from inside out.
When we constantly put our gut under stress with our ignorant western diet, we damage our intestinal tract and jeopardise our skins defence system. The skin's main function is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial barrier.
When the gut is under stress and sparking inflammation, it can impair the integrity and protective function of the guts barrier, this can lead to a permeable gut wall. This is quite commonly referred to as a ‘leaky gut’. A leaky gut means that the gastrointestinal system is now allowing toxins and undigested food through the gut wall and directly into the bloodstream. This ‘leak’ then causes systemic inflammation. As the body is now full of these harmful toxins, its main objective is to excrete them. Due to the skins decrease in its antimicrobial defence system, we can unfortunately notice an increase in infection and inflammation as a form of excretion through the skin.
Whether you have been informed you have gut issues or not, being kind to your gut is imperative for your overall health. There are tests that can be done in clinic to determine intestinal disorders however we can all take small measures every day to ensure optimal gut health and prevent future risks.
I will be writing more in depth blogs in the months to come explaining how certain foods affect our gut health and the importance of our microbial system, but for now here are some of my personal top tips to ensure you are being kind to your gut today and creating the glow from inside out!
Take a daily oral probiotic. Probiotics have been shown to decrease lipopolysaccharide (an endotoxin that triggers major inflammatory response in the gut) , improve intestinal barrier function and reduce inflammation.
- Incorporate fermented and cultured foods into your diet that are naturally rich with probiotics. Ie, sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt, kombucha, kimchi etc.
Start taking L-Glutamine supplements. This is an essential amino acid and helps reduce inflammation and fuels the cells that line the intestine which can aid in the repair of the gut and intestinal lining.
Remove/ reduce refined sugar from your diet!
Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 153(Suppl 1), 3–6. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x