Here’s the thing. We believe that healthy skin is the result of way more than just the products we use (though choosing the right ones for your skin definitely helps). Beautiful skin comes from the inside-out. That’s why we want to talk today about what’s going on inside our bodies, and more specifically, in the gut. We already know all about our skin’s microbiome (and its health is vital), so now it’s time to talk about the gut’s microbiome.
Like your skin, the microbiome in your gut is made up of diverse bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses -- all key to your health and good for you (no need to squirm). Your microbiome provides a plethora of benefits to you, including the breakdown of nutrients and protection against environmental toxins and potential diseases -- no big deal. And the condition of your gut microbiome is intricately tied to your skin. Spoiler alert: the prevention and treatment of common skin concerns like acne, eczema, and even aging starts in your gut. In a nutshell, there is a link between the health of your gut and the happiness of your skin.
Whether you like it or not, if you want healthy skin, it matters how you nourish your body and mind. That unexplainable breakout? Patch of dryness you can’t seem to heal? Visible dullness that doesn’t flinch when you diligently use your best Vitamin C serum? Our skin woes are often a manifestation of deeper issues within the body. It’s our system’s way of waving the red flag to let us know when something isn’t quite right. Studies even show a connection between skin health, the food we eat, and our brains.
These are three big things, so let’s break it down: when you’re stressed to the max (hello, COVID-19) or indulge in a little too much sugar (hello, COVID-19 baking adventures), those little messengers in your brain race to your gut and disrupt the flora that strengthens your microbiome’s barrier. In an attempt to fix the disruption, your gut begins to overproduce cells which trigger both gut and skin inflammation, aka: problematic skin.
Before you throw your hands in the air, overwhelmed by the thought of having to care for not just one, but now, two, microbiomes, and decide to do absolutely nothing, take a deep breath. As we learned in caring for our skin’s microbiome, it’s all about stripping it down and going back to the basics.
Start with your diet. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods daily. Probiotics not only make for a content microbiome, but can lead to increased skin elasticity, hydration, reduced inflammation, and protection against harmful toxins and bacteria. I love organic Greek yogurt (who doesn’t?) and can’t get enough of fermented foods -- think kombucha, apple cider vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These are musts for a healthy gut. But be choosy about what you decide to put in your mouth, though, and take your time with the ingredient list. Sugar lurks around every corner -- and it’s a top gut microbiome destroyer.
If you choose (or need) to supplement, there are two species of probiotics you should be on the lookout for: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Within these species, there are a plethora of strains to choose from. I recommend Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and bifidobacterium longum. They are particularly helpful for skin health, a strong immune system, and help with autoimmunity conditions. Check the refrigerated section of your natural grocery store. But, just like food, read the labels to ensure you’re getting a quality probiotic.
Now let’s talk about your lifestyle. Remember that connection we made between gut health, skin, and your mind? It’s key. Healthy skin requires a 360-degree approach -- mind, body, and soul. It all matters, starting with how you think (this includes how you talk to yourself). Stress is a killer, particularly for the gut microbiome. So find ways to manage your stress. I’m a big fan of mindfulness, and my daily meditation and breathing exercises always seem to help when I’m spinning out. If activity is more your thing, lean into it. #freeyourshe and recharge with a hike outdoors. If you’re into painting, hiking, or music, then do your thing! Find a way to create space for peace and stillness and you’ll be well on your way to a happy gut microbiome.
If there’s anything we’ve learned about our skin, it’s that nothing is a one size fits all solution. Figure out what works best for you, then stick to it. That part is key!