An inside look at intestines with healthy fruits and vegetables traveling through them.

Taking Control of Our Skin Health: Our Microbiome

There is no doubt a direct relationship between the gut microbiome and the skin, which has become an important topic in dermatology and gastroenterology. It is evident that many factors such as diet and psychological stress can influence our gut microbiome, and, can directly or indirectly affect skin health.

Like part of any nutritional protocol, gut health is getting a lot of attention, and skin health is right alongside it. When we take care of our gut by diversifying our microbiome, our skin has a much better chance to thrive.

What is the gut microbiome?

So what exactly is the microbiome, and why is it so critical for skin health? Some might think that we are autonomous creatures, though, in reality, we are covered from head to toe with invisible microbes, bacteria, and fungi. We actually have trillions of microbes living mainly in our colon and also on our skin. The gut microbiome refers to all of the microbes in our intestines crucial for our health and well-being. The gut and the skin are organs that each have their unique roles, and the close relationship between these organs is referred to as the “skin-gut axis.” Many studies link gastrointestinal (GI) health to skin homeostasis or balance.

The relationship between the gut microbiome and skin health

One of the main modulators of the skin-gut axis is how the gut microbiome communicates with the skin. There are complex interactions between the microbiome and the immune system that regulate both systemic and local inflammation. Research suggests that the gut microbiome can directly affect the skin. In an impaired intestinal barrier, intestinal bacteria and their metabolites (mid or end product of metabolism)can enter the bloodstream, accumulate in the skin, and disrupt the skin microbiome. Gastrointestinal disorders are often accompanied by skin issues, and the gut microbiome appears to play a key role in the development of many inflammatory disorders of the skin.

Imbalance of the gut and associated skin disorders

Intestinal dysbiosis (a state of microbial imbalance) can potentially negatively impact the skin microbiome and its basic function. It can commonly be a contributor to skin disorders like atopic dermatitis. It is believed that a lack of microbiome diversity in the gut during the early stages of life can affect the proper maturing of immunity leading to chronic inflammation. Psychological stress can also be caused by intestinal microbes producing neurotransmitters that can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal barrier, resulting in systemic inflammation, ultimately affecting the skin. So what we want is A MORE DIVERSE MICROBIOME! How can we do that?

How to diversify the microbiome

Diet is a huge factor that supports a more balanced microbiome. Dietary fiber can absolutely promote a healthy colon. Studies have shown that greater dietary fiber consumption is associated with increased gut microbe diversity! When we speak about fiber, we are not alluding to Metamucil or Psyllium Husk; that might be the typical association. Good sources of dietary fiber include oats, chia seeds, flaxseed, beans, grains, vegetables, avocado, apple, banana, nuts, and seeds.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Consumption of probiotic foods is another great way to increase the microbiome's diversity to promote skin health. Foods such as, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, tempeh, kombucha.

Eating prebiotic foods also helps maintain a healthy balance in the gut microbiome. Prebiotics work similarly to fiber, supporting the beneficial bacteria already in the gut, allowing them to flourish in the gut and perform their healthy functions. While all prebiotics are fiber, not all fiber is prebiotic!

Intermittent fasting

Another great way of creating more diversity in the microbiome is by intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is not a diet. It's a pattern of time-restricted eating. It doesn’t change what you eat; it changes when you eat and when you fast — your fasting for a certain number of hours and eating for a certain number of hours. You can research more information on intermittent fasting for more details as there are various ways to introduce it into your life.

It's about understanding

With all of this said, not all of us can freely eat these foods due to sensitivities or allergies, nor can we fast. We have to take responsibility for what might cause a flare-up. I am sharing this information to introduce a basic understanding. As always, it’s advisable to check with your own medical practitioner what is the best way to manage our gut health and microbiome. It is a process to understand the condition of one's gut health and what steps need to be taken to build a healthy gut microbiome.

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