The gut-skin connection

  • 18 Jun - 24 Jun, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Beauty

How your skin looks and feels is influenced by many lifestyle factors including skincare routine, UV exposure, stress, smoking, pollution, exercise and even your diet. All of these can affect your microbiome composition and diversity, and your skin health! Want to find out how you can improve your skin by taking care of your gut? Read on to find out more.


Your gut microbes are linked to pro- and anti-inflammatory activity in your digestive system. And this is strongly influenced by what you eat, with researchers finding inflammatory bacteria known as Clostridium bolteae and Lachnospiraceae in people who included meat, French fries, mayonnaise and soft drinks in their diet. And what you don’t eat matters, too. If your diet lacks fibre, pro-inflammatory bacteria feed on and damage your gut lining, in turn, influencing the health and appearance of your skin. The solution? Current research suggests the more diverse your gut microbiome, the healthier and the stronger it is. If you have less diversity or imbalances in your gut microbiome it can manifest in skin symptoms and conditions such as eczema and acne.

Take action: Focus on foods that are rich in vitamins A, C and E, as these are key nutrients to support gut health and skin. Aim to include eggs, organic butter, sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, nuts and seeds in your diet.

Build immunity

With so much of your immunity dependent on a healthy gut, when your microbiome is out of balance, your immune system will be, too. Your gut and skin microbiomes have a lot in common. When healthy, they’re both packed with mast cells, which form a first line of defense for your immune system. If your gut-mediated immunity is out of balance, however, it can cause problems, such as eczema flare-ups.

Take action: A good way to support your gut’s immune function is to increase your prebiotic intake. Eat more fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kefir. You’ll also need to avoid refined foods and, if you take antibiotics, make sure you replace the microbiota with a probiotic supplement afterwards.

Remove the toxins

When your gut isn’t functioning correctly your bowel function may be less than optimum, reducing its ability to eliminate the substances your body doesn’t need. The result? Reabsorbed toxins may be pushed out through your skin as a way for your body to get rid of them, which can cause inflammation, acne and dull skin. But decreasing inflammation on the skin by correcting the bacteria in the gut may lead to younger and smoother-looking skin.

Take action: Taking probiotics orally promotes healthy bowel movements, allowing your body to remove toxins quickly from the gut before they are reabsorbed. Probiotics also improve digestion and aid the absorption of nutrients, allowing your skin to receive more of the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy complexion, firmness and tone.

Heal your gut lining

Bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue and skin issues could be a sign you have a leaky gut, where your gut barrier has been compromised and substances that should remain in your gut cross over into the blood stream. Diets low in fibre and high in sugar and saturated fats may contribute to the problem, while excessive alcohol and stress also disrupt this balance. A leaky gut can set off a cascade of heightened immune inflammatory responses, which can manifest in many different symptoms, including those related to the skin. It can also lead to your ability to absorb nutrients being compromised, which can show its effect on the skin.

Take action: Supporting the health of your gut barrier is really important for skin health. Experts suggest eating foods that are either rich in collagen or support collagen production. Try consuming organic bone broth, organic chicken, fish and shellfish, eggs, citrus fruits, broccoli, berries, leafy greens and nuts and seeds.