The old cliche, “You are what you eat” is hackneyed, yet completely true. Your diet plays a direct role in your skin health, but how big of a role exactly? We decided to do a deep dive into the gut & skin axis connection and give you the need-to-know facts on the importance of your gut microbiome.
What’s up with these Microbiomes?
Your gut microbiome is much like your skin microbiome, it is comprised of trillions of bacteria, fungi & other microbes. The health of your gut microbiome can be harder to determine than your skin microbiome, since it is internal there is no physical (besides your, well, bowel movements) evidence of its health. Science has discovered the important link between your gut microbiome and: mental, physical & skin health, just to name a few. It is difficult to overemphasize just how important these microbial ecosystems are on our bodies. There are WAY more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. Roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells live in & on your body, yet your body is only composed of about 30 trillion human cells. One could argue we are more bacteria than we are human. The health of these microbial communities determines the status of so many systems within our body.
Just like the skin microbiome, the gut microbiome can be balanced and unbalanced. Too much of any one bacteria can alter the state of the microbiome and cause a ripple effect on the rest of your body. Aiding the health of your gut microbiome is a different process than your skin microbiome. To benefit your skin microbiome we always preach a “less is more” approach, using little ingredients and minimal products to allow your skin to balance itself. Your gut microbiome requires a more diverse approach.
How to Benefit Your Gut Microbiome:
- Eat a diverse range of foods: This can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health. In particular, legumes, beans and fruit contain lots of fiber and can promote the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria!
- Choose yummy fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, and kefir all contain healthy bacteria, mainly Lactobacilli, and can reduce the amount of disease-causing species in the gut.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners: Some evidence has shown that artificial sweeteners like aspartame increase blood sugar by stimulating the growth of unhealthy bacteria like Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome.
- Take antibiotics only when necessary: Antibiotics kill all the bacteria within the gut microbiome, this includes the good guys. Stripping your gut microbiome of its bacteria can lead to stomach issues, weight gain, and antibiotic resistance.
How Is My Skin Related to My Gut Microbiome?
When it comes to our bodies, it’s all connected. Whatever food you choose to eat is broken down within your digestive system and extracted for nutrients by the rest of your body. This means choosing a diet that is rich in healthful vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and a low amount of processed foods is beneficial for everything, including your skin.
Studies have shown that your diet can alter your gut microbiome, and therefor alter your skin microbiome. A study divided mice into 2 groups, one of them eating a balanced diet, and the other eating food that nutritionally represented a “Western Diet”. The study defines Western diet as “a high sugar and moderate fat diet”, as opposed to a balanced diet, which is considered standard for mice. After 6 weeks the mice eating the Western Diet gained significant weight as opposed to their balanced diet counterparts. Additionally, their skin quality started to rapidly deteriorate. By week 10 most of the Western Diet mice displayed skin inflammation — indicated by signs of red, scaly patches on their skin and ear swelling — along with joint inflammation. In addition, the Western Diet mice also experienced signs of psoriasis-related skin issues.
Further study discovered that Western Diets decreases gut microbiota diversity. This is a bad thing. A diverse microbiome is a happy microbiome. The more diverse, robust, and alive your microbiome is, the better chance the bacteria have at performing at their prime due to increased competition and survival of the fittest. This is the same when it comes to your skin! If your gut microbiome is not performing at its best, your skin won’t be either.
This study and countless others display the importance of our microbiomes and the role they play for each other. Improving your skin microbiome is not a one-step fix, it takes time, patience, and a deep understanding that our bodies are interconnected on a large and small scale. To discover microbiome-friendly skincare visit our shop, and to learn about the health of your skin microbiome, consider taking our Skin Microbiome Kit.