Making the Gut & Skin Connection

If you notice dry skin or breakouts, your first impulse may be to apply a topical moisturizer or ointment. But studies reveal that the actual culprit may be inside you.

Scientists and researchers are following just how the gut and skin communicate and interact with each other, and diagnosing a gut problem may be as easy as looking at your skin.

The gut is a complex colony. It contains trillions of strains of bacteria, fungi and other living things. When gut microbes are out of balance, they trigger your immune system. This in turn produces inflammatory markers that communicate with your skin’s microbes.

Essentially, if you encounter issues with your gut such as inflammation, leaky gut or digestion problems, your skin is usually the first place you will see the signs. Scientists have linked gut health to skin issues including eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, acne and premature aging.

There are some things you can do to combat this inflammation and gut turmoil. For one, add omega 3 fatty acids to your diet, which are associated with lower skin inflammation and feed the gut bacteria. Eat fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines) twice a week to get enough.

You can also add flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and tofu, but they are not as efficiently absorbed.

Another important change is to add probiotics to your diet by eating yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi and sourdough bread as well as provolone, cheddar, feta and Gruyere cheese.

Another bonus for your gut and your overall health is to increase the soluble fiber in your diet. Good sources include oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus, carrots, barley and psyllium.

And just like your mother used to tell you, make sure you chew your food thoroughly. One study found that people who ate nuts and chewed 40 times extracted all the good nutrition while those who chewed only 10 times did not.

If you’re looking for a quick fix, don’t get discouraged. Studies show that if you include fiber, probiotics and eat a cleaner diet, the gut bacteria changes after about three days.

However, to see effects on your skin you’ll have to wait at least three months. But the benefits will be worth it.