How your skin looks and feels is influenced by many lifestyle factors including skincare routine, UV exposure, stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, pollution, exercise and even your diet. All of these can affect your microbiome composition and diversity, and your skin health!
The gut microbiome has been studied for many years and consists of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms in your gut. A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is incredibly important as it affects food digestion, your immune system, and your brain and skin health. Even identical twins with the same genes have been shown to respond differently to the same foods, possibly due to their differing gut microbiomes!
An imbalance (or dysbiosis) of the gut microbiome can be caused by a decrease in overall diversity, too many harmful bacteria, or not enough good bacteria. Imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
More recently, the importance of the skin microbiome is becoming another hot topic as we learn more about the roles different types of bacteria play in our skin health and appearance.
Your skin microbiome consists of all the different microorganisms living on the surface of your skin. It is as unique as your fingerprint and determines your personal skin type and needs. For example, people with oily skin will have a very different skin microbiome composition to those with dry skin. Specific bacteria on human skin have also been linked to acne, inflammatory skin conditions or skin diseases.
It may come as a surprise but your gut and skin actually have a lot in common. Both form an interface between the internal body and the outside environment and are home to trillions of bacteria which interact with you in different ways.
Though the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, numerous studies indicate that the gut microbiome’s influence extends well beyond the digestive system. Your skin is one of several organs which has a complex connection with your gut. This connection is also known as the gut-skin axis.
Gut Microbiome And Your Skin
One way in which your gut microbiome affects your skin is via your immune system. Certain bacteria, and the substances they produce, promote accumulation of T cells which have anti-inflammatory roles. Some studies suggest that a microbial imbalance or lack of bacterial diversity in the gut actually precedes atopic dermatitis and chronic inflammation later in life. Early studies have also linked gut dysbiosis to skin microbiome imbalances and conditions such as acne, psoriasis and rosacea.
Another way in which your gut microbiome affects your skin is through improving digestion and nutrient availability. Dietary fibre cannot be digested by the enzymes produced in your gut. Bacteria, however, love the stuff! Fibre fermentation by gut bacteria leads to the production of short chain fatty acids which improve the fatty acid composition of your skin and your skin microbiome.
Food And Your Skin
The food you eat affects the diversity of your gut microbiome and may trigger skin irritations or flare-ups in some people. However, everyone’s microbiome is different so it is important to remember that one person’s food sensitivity or diet may not affect you in the same way.
A high-glycaemic diet (a diet rich in fatty junk food, sugary drinks, and simple carbohydrates like white bread) may make acne worse in some individuals. This is because the simple sugars cause spikes in blood sugar and hormone levels. Hormone imbalances can lead to an increase in sebum production which clogs pores and provides the perfect environment for acne-causing bacteria to grow.
Milk consumption is another dietary factor that has been linked to acne and eczema flare ups. However dairy isn’t all bad as probiotic yoghurts actually have the potential to benefit your gut microbiome and your skin too!
Coeliac disease is an inflammatory disorder in people who develop an immune reaction to gluten. It is associated with intestinal symptoms, as well as skin conditions like dermatitis herpetiformis and psoriasis. Due to the gut-skin axis, inflammation in the gut can also result in inflammation in the skin.
A Healthy Diet For Healthy Skin
Food, supplements, medication, and anything you consume can reach your gut and affect your microbiome. While scientists are still working to define exactly what comprises a ‘healthy gut microbiome’, a more diverse microbiome is definitely better for you. This is because if one type of bacteria can’t do its job properly, another bacteria may be able to compensate.
Here are our top tips for a happy gut and glowing skin:
- A diverse, balanced diet is a great place to start in your quest for beautiful skin and a healthy body as different bacteria prefer different types of food.
- Prebiotics are types of fibre that feed your gut’s good bacteria like Bifidobacteria. High fibre foods include many fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
- Omega-3 fatty acids also improve skin hydration and skin barrier function. They can be found in foods such as fish, walnuts, chia seeds and linseeds.
- Many fermented foods such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha contain beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli which can help you break down food, and absorb nutrients that can benefit both your skin and body health.
- If you are prone to acne, consider reducing your dairy intake or swapping high-glycaemic index foods for less sugary alternatives. For example, you could replace white bread and white rice with wholemeal bread and brown rice.
- Linoleic acid may improve sebum consistency and acne symptoms. It can easily be added to your diet through nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
- Avoid known food allergies and anything you have identified as a food sensitivity or irritant.
- Consider taking probiotic supplements like Aurelia London’s Beauty & Immunity Support capsules to help manage the balance of natural bacteria in your gut.
- If you want to boost your skin microbiome directly, we also love Aurelia London’s award-winning probiotic skincare range!
Understanding Your Skin
Why not try our at-home skin microbiome test to truly understand your skin and it’s needs.
For a limited time, we are offering a free trial of our microbiome test kit, scientific analysis of your unique skin microbiome, a skin report with personalised skincare recommendations, and access to our skin health tracking app!
Sign up for your free trial here: https://www.skintrustclub.com/skin-microbiome-kit-offer/