Does your skin break out after eating something disagreeable or sugar-heavy? Or are you constantly managing a skin condition with an elusive root cause?
Recent studies have discovered a connection between the skin and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract called the “gut-skin axis”. This fascinating relationship takes place between the microbiome in your gut and the microbiome on your skin. Since both microbiomes play a role in keeping the immune system balanced, when one gets out of whack, the other can easily follow.
Supporting Skin through Gut Health
The skin’s microbiome is the first line of defense against external factors, like sun exposure, pollution, and harsh skincare products. It contains billions of microbiota that aid the immune system and stop foreign microbes from causing damage that may result in breakouts, premature aging, and irritating skin conditions.
The gut’s microbiome works similarly by managing the foreign microbes that enter the body through food and drink. The microbes in the GI tract promote a healthy immune response, among other things. However, when there’s disharmony in the gut microbiome, this immune cell function intensifies and can influence other areas of the body. Overactive immune responses have been linked to “numerous skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, rosacea, and psoriasis.”
Ways to Improve the Gut-Skin Axis
These findings show that what we eat impacts our skin’s health. Luckily, there are quite a few simple ways to promote gut-skin harmony. First and foremost, a healthy diet is essential when supporting a balanced gut microbiome. Sugar, alcohol, and food intolerances are all known to trigger imbalances within the microbiome. Removing or avoiding these triggers can soothe an overactive immune response and reduce the likelihood of skin issues.
Exploring Additional Support
While being mindful of food and beverage intake is productive, introducing new gut-supportive foods can make a huge difference. You may even be surprised to learn that many of these fruits and vegetables are highly accessible and sold at local grocery markets and health food stores.
One way to support the gut-skin axis is by adding more probiotics to your daily regimen. Probiotics maintain and support the colony of healthy bacteria already living in the GI tract. Many fermented foods, like organic yogurt and kefir, kombucha (without added sugar), and kimchi, are rich in probiotics and can naturally improve the health of the gut, which by design, supports the skin microbiome.
You can also consider adding a high-quality probiotic supplement to your daily routine. Dr. Mark Hyman recommends looking for a probiotic that contains at least 25 to 50 billion live CFUs from a variety of strains.
In addition to probiotics, prebiotics can significantly shift gut-skin axis health. Prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber that help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Through the improved health of the gut microbiome, prebiotics can boost immune health, nurture the intestinal walls, aid nutrient absorption, and eradicate harmful bacteria. They also directly benefit the skin by locking in moisture and nourishing the skin’s microbiota.
You can add prebiotics to your diet by eating plenty of onions, sweet potatoes, garlic, and dandelion greens.
Fructooligosaccharides are simple sugar chains of fructose that are naturally found in foods like bananas, garlic, onion, artichoke, chicory, and more. They’re considered a soluble fiber and act as a prebiotic for gut microbiota. Along with fructooligosaccharides’ affinity to support the gut microbiome, research shows that these sugars also inhibit acne-causing bacteria, help the GI tract absorb minerals, and balance cholesterol levels in the body.
A long sugar chain available in some plants, galactooligosaccharides are found in legumes, select root vegetables (like beets and onions), and dairy products. These chains are similar to their prebiotic partners, fructooligosaccharides, and are known to regulate and balance gut microbiota, encourage healthy bowel movements, and support digestive and immune functioning.
Inulin is a prebiotic present in asparagus, onions, leeks, garlic, chicory, oats, and soybeans. It’s comprised of many fructosyl units and has a respected reputation for improving microbiome conditions in the gut. Research shows that taking inulin can regulate bowel function, nurture skin hydration, and support the growth of gut microbiota that manage essential areas of the immune response.
Cranberry Extract (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Cranberries are popular for their ability to keep bacteria and their growth tendencies at bay. These tart berries contain active constituents called “proanthocyanidins” that interfere with the colonization of invading bacteria and inhibit their adhesion to intestinal walls. These activities aid the gut microbiome in maintaining balance, keep healthy bacteria from becoming overworked, and avoid an over-active immune response.
Mangosteen Fruit (Garcinia mangostana)
This sweet and sour tropical fruit originates from Southeast Asia. On the outside, mangosteen resembles a large plum; however, break one open and you’ll find a white flesh that’s highly nutritious, rich in fiber, and a powerhouse against external microbes (on the skin or in the gut). Its high fiber content supports digestion and aids healthy bowel movements, while its microbe-fighting properties eliminate bacteria growth. Mangosteen protects the skin from drying out and assists the gut microbiome by soothing irritation and swelling from an imbalanced immune cell response.
Belly Love Smoothie
Improving gut-skin axis conditions can seem overwhelming, so we’ve developed a delicious, gut-boosting smoothie recipe that will leave your belly and skin happy. We’ve included prebiotic-rich fruits, nutritious kefir full of probiotics, and the Anima Mundi Belly Love Powder that contains nourishing and supportive ingredients like cranberry and mangosteen. Our Founder and botanical skin care specialist, Jessica, makes kefir from her own goats’ milk and recommends finding a local, organic source for increased nutrients and probiotics.
1 cup organic strawberries
1 cup organic kefir (substitute with ¾ cup plain yogurt and ¼ cup milk)
1 ½ teaspoons Anima Mundi Belly Love Powder
A sprig of mint (optional garnish)
- Chop the banana and add it to a blender with strawberries, kefir, and Anima Mundi Belly Love Powder.
- Cover and blend until smooth and well combined.
- Pour into a glass, complete with mint garnish, and enjoy!
This smoothie is the perfect way to kick-start your morning and nourish your gut-skin axis throughout the day.
What happens inside the gut profoundly affects the skin’s health. Paying attention to triggering foods and drinks and adding gut-supportive supplements to your routine can nurture a balanced and flourishing gut-skin axis.
If you think you could benefit from implementing a healthy gut and skin routine, feel free to reach out to Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’d be happy to assist with any questions!