The Skin Gut Connection and it's Secret for Beautiful Skin
Brittle skin? Premature wrinkles? Poor Complexion? Some seem to be born with amazing skin and always glowing. While others, no matter how hard they try and invest in expensive treatments, always seem to be in an unending battle to improve the skin.
Is it surprising to learn that approximately two thirds of those that are battling a skin condition like dryness, acne, eczema, rosacea and other types of skin flare ups also experience digestive issues such as frequent gas, constipation, IBS, Colitis, Crohn’s, and others?
Modern science and treatments have focused on treating our skin from the outside with topical creams whether they are over the counter beauty products or prescribed. However, we have not learned to also look inside our bodies to determine if there is a stronger root cause of certain skin problems.
Functional medicine and studies published throughout the years have shown that many skin issues are the result of an immune response that is battling inflammation inside our bodies, and some of our skin problems can be more telling of what is really going on inside our bodies.
Sometimes it is hard to believe, but scientists as early as the 1930's had identified the relationship between the health of our gut and the skin. Here is the link to that study.
Most recently many more studies have come out and the importance of a healthy gut has been heightened; however, there is so much new information to sort through that it is a daunting task to figure out on our own how all of this applies to our lives. In this blog, my objective is to explain in an easily understandable way how our gut and skin are related.
The Connection Between the Gut and the Skin
Let’s start with the fact that the gut is now sometimes called “the cradle of our immune system.” We also know that there are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut, these are called “probiotic” bacteria, and the fact that there is also a small percentage of “pathogenic” or bad bacteria in our gut.
Probiotic bacteria work hard to keep the bad bacteria in our gut in check. If the gut gets out of balance where the bad bacteria in the gut outgrows or outperforms the probiotic bacteria, dysbiosis starts happening. Below, I get to explain the role of our gut in our skin health.
Proper Absorption of the Right Vitamin Nutrients is Critical for Skin and Overall Health.
The most important function of the gut is to properly metabolize and absorb key nutrients into our bloodstream. I don't believe most of us give that much importance to our gut or completely internalize that the gut is the organ that gets all of our body nourished, including our skin, brain, and all organs.
Interesting.... most of us don't even think about our gut at all, don't feel bad, I did not used to, either. It is important to stress that it is truly a vital organ because it selects the nutrients that will pass on to the bloodstream and ultimately nourish every cell in our bodies.
The Relationship Between Probiotics and Skin
Now, having established the importance of the gut, here is a clue of what can be going on with the skin. If the gut is out of balance, in other words, having mild to moderate dysbiosis, it is very likely that the body is not properly processing and metabolizing the vitamins that are needed for a healthy skin and body.
This means that the gut itself might be keeping our skin from the nutrients that foment skin renewal and healing. A sign that the gut might be out of balance is dry brittle skin, and if these symptoms are coupled with digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation or even occasional diarrhea, then the gut is likely playing a bigger role. This is how probiotics and skin health are related!
Here are some examples of the nutrients that could be missing from our diets if our gut is out of balance and skin issues are also being experienced.
Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, plays a strong role in skin repair meaning wound healing and skin regrowth. A deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to dry skin, wrinkles and a poor complexion. That is why Vitamin A is also present in many topical treatments that come in the form of Retinol, another name for Vitamin A.
Here are some great sources of vitamin A: carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, broccoli, eggs and squash.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as antioxidant by promoting healthy glowing skin and collagen formation while fighting free radical damage. Vitamin C will help your skin look youthful and keep that natural glow.
Here are some foods that are high on Vitamin C: oranges, raw red peppers, kale, broccoli, strawberries and guava.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps decrease free radicals and environmental damage to hair and skin. It also promotes circulation to the scalp and helps strengthen the capillary walls in the skin while improving skin moisture and elasticity.
Here are some foods that are rich in vitamin E: almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, butternut squash, and olive oil.
A Scientific Perspective: Benefits of Probiotics for Skin
So, why is the gut not properly absorbing the vitamins we need? When we eat a diet high in processed carbohydrates, sugar and artificial sweeteners we are feeding the “bad bacteria” in our gut and literally starving the probiotic bacteria. If the bad bacteria grow faster than the probiotic bacteria in our gut, our gut becomes out of balance and it starts “leaking”.
When the gut is compromised, the probiotic bacteria becomes less effective in protecting and metabolizing the nutrients from our food and less nutrients pass into the bloodstream. That’s how some vitamin deficiencies originate.
Here is more on how our gut works. Our gut is coated with structures called “villi”, which is where all the nutrients pass on to the blood stream. Villi is coated by “enterocytes,” which are the very cells that complete the digestive process and absorb the nutrients in our bloodstream. The “enterocytes” are constantly being regenerated to ensure the gut works well in processing all the food we eat.
Probiotic bacteria are in charge of protecting the “enterocyte” population as they get constantly renewed in the "crypt" (refer to picture), so when the gut gets out of balance, the “enterocyte” population decreases and the villi start to become “leaky” meaning that it becomes unable to digest and absorb food properly leading to nutritional deficiencies and food intolerances. Some nutrients even pass into the bloodstream without being fully metabolized.
That’s when our immune system responds and we develop allergies and other immune responses, some of these allergies and responses are manifested in our skin as dry, in other instances in the form of acne, eczema or even rosacea.
Probiotics Skin Benefits
When dry, brittle skin, premature wrinkles, and other conditions like acne or eczema are experienced, always look for the root cause. That is why it is recommended to change your diet and start taking a probiotic.
Studies have proven that probiotics will help skin become healthier by bringing back the gut to balance and strengthening the walls of the gut. A probiotic combined with a change in diet to include the foods that contain Vitamin A, C and E will help turn around skin health and promote a clear complexion.
“Spore Forming” Bacteria, A Revolution in the Probiotics Market
“Spore forming” probiotics occur in nature and their benefit is that they can survive heat up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit as well as stomach acid. This is truly a revolution in the probiotic supplement market because most of the probiotics in the market today need a special coating to survive stomach acid and most do start degrading as soon as they are manufactured due to transportation, time and changes in the environment by the time they make it into our homes.
Spore forming probiotics are different. They have a natural protective spore layer that keeps them alive despite changes in temperature and gets them through the harsh stomach acid to open-up when the conditions for growth and reproduction are optimal.
Because our gut is warm and contains the right food to help them thrive and colonize, these probiotic bacteria are very effective in completing their journey to the gut, where they make the biggest difference in our health.
There are no specific "skin probiotics," but probiotics that have been proven to reduce leaky gut will also help improve skin.
Bacillus Coagulans is one strain of spore forming probiotics that is also very versatile because it helps relieve several digestive symptoms, and is has been proven to be an effective and prolific colonizer of the gut. Note key findings of a present study establishing that oral spore-based probiotic supplementation that includes Bacillus Coagulans is effective in reducing symptoms of leaky gut, which can directly help benefit and improve skin health.
ActiveChange Probiotics is a potent high quality dose containing 15 Billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs) of Bacillus Coagulans combined with prebiotic fiber for maximun efficacy. Just take one tablet a day at anytime with or without food to help improve skin and to build a stronger gut and immune system.
Let me know if this blog post was helpful to you by leaving a comment below or if you have any questions that you would like me to write about on my next blog post.