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The Gut-Skin Connection, Explained

It’s said that beauty is skin-deep, but research shows that actually, it goes much, much deeper than that––right down to your gut, in fact. People have long turned to topical treatments to banish skin complaints like eczema, psoriasis, acne and wrinkles, but research indicates that these conditions may actually begin in the gut. A recent Russian study found that 54 percent of acne patients have marked alterations to the intestinal microflora. 

The Gut Skin Connection

Researchers are still studying how exactly gut bacteria interact with skin and which bacterial strains are the most beneficial to healing. What we do know, however, is that the way that the gut directly links to the skin is three pronged.

Nutrient Absorption

One of the core services your gut bacteria provide is synthesizing the nutrition from your food. 

An inflamed gut is going to have trouble absorbing all of the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats your skin needs to look its best.

Detox System

The health of your gut not only determines what nutrients are absorbed, but also what toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out. According to BioCeuticals naturopath Amie Skilton, "All of the bacteria and metabolic byproducts that is produced and also the toxins our liver is excreting is excreted via the bile in the gut, so the gut needs to keep that from being reabsorbed into the system. If it does get reabsorbed -- this is what happens when the gut is not healthy -- it clogs up our own sewer system which is our lymphatic system, which then spews out through the skin. This is especially the case with acne but also with eczema and psoriasis to a degree."

Immune System

Third, there is your gut-immune system. 

Your entire immune system, and the rest of your body, is protected from the toxic environment in your gut by a lining that is only ONE cell-thick layer. 

If that barrier is damaged (also known as leaky gut), your immune system will become overactive, and it will begin producing inflammation throughout your body, and that includes the skin. This can present as a flare up of eczema, psoriasis or a breakout or worsening of acne.

What is the best remedy?

Repairing your gut, of course! If you haven’t already, take a look at our series When Good Guts go Bad Part 2: Repairing your Gut with the 5 Rs.