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The Gut-Skin Axis: Why Maintaining Gut Health Should be Part of Your Beauty Routine

June 06, 2022 8 min read

The Gut-Skin Axis: Why Maintaining Gut Health Should be Part of Your Beauty Routine - Layer Origin Nutrition

The Gut-Skin Axis: Why Maintaining Gut Health Should be Part of Your Beauty Routine

Your skin is your body’s biggest organ. It can weigh up to 8 pounds and can cover a surface of 22 square feet.

It acts as a highly sensitive sensor, packed with nerves for translating information to the brain from the outside world. It is, of course, responsible for one of our most important senses: the sense of touch. 

But your skin affords you more than the privilege of feeling the summer sun on your face, your first kiss, or the touch of your baby’s cheek. It is a remarkably complex super organ with a wide range of important functions in the human body. 

It is our body’s first line of defense against environmental harm. It insulates us from temperature fluctuations and protects us from other environmental assaults like sunburn and pollution.

In fact, since the human body is made up of more than 70% water, the skin’s water-proofing capabilities literally protect us from evaporating into thin air!

Aside from its important role in water and fat storage, the skin also produces Vitamin D that assists in the uptake and conversion of Calcium into strong, healthy bones.

It’s more than skin deep: Our psychological connection with our skin

With the skin being our physical interface with the world around us, it plays a significant role in how we perceive our overall appearance. We also often associate the appearance of our skin with how we are perceived by others.

Even temporary blemishes or any visible skin abnormalities can be harmful to self-esteem and cause people to limit social interactions until the issue is resolved.

More permanent skin problems have more severe repercussions. Research has shown that people with visible skin ailments are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, social isolation, and experience a lower quality of life in general.

In the past decade, much attention has been given to holistic approaches to health and wellness, with growing interest in gut health. Questions are beginning to emerge regarding a link between the gut and skin.

The link between gut and skin

To better understand this potential link between the gut and skin, it is important to understand how the gut is involved in overall human health.

Correct functionality of the gut is largely dependent on the collection of microorganisms that inhabit it, known as gut microbiota.

Although the entire gut is actually the long gastrointestinal tract that stretches from the esophagus all the way to the rectum, we mostly associate the gut with the intestinal portion that accommodates the microbiome.

The gut-brain-skin axis

Our current understanding of the relationship between our gut and skin is rooted in the ability of these gut microorganisms to communicate with the brain via the gut-brain axis.

Along this gut-brain axis, the brain and gut are not only physically connected but also biochemically. What this means, is that gut microbes produce signaling compounds, such as neurotransmitters that stimulate neural communication pathways with the brain. These signals trigger the release of hormones that start a cascade of widespread biochemical changes throughout the body.

The gut-skin axis

Similarly, a bidirectional signaling pathway exists between the gut and skin.

Gut microorganisms produce neurotransmitters that stimulate hormone production in the brain. These hormones cause a systemic change in the body that has a direct impact on the health and appearance of the skin.

For example, one of these neurotransmitters, serotonin, is largely produced in the gut and can cause an itch-scratch response in patients with atopic dermatitis.

More evidence of this relationship lies in the link between a high-glycemic diet that increases lipid-rich sebum levels on the skin. This increase in sebum levels are known to lead to the formation of acne through the stimulation of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).

Because of the highly-regulated nature of this communication network, a disruption in the gut microbial populations could result in other downstream disruptions in the body. These gut disruptions, collectively known as gut dysbiosis, have the potential to disrupt communication between the gut and brain which could have a negative impact on general health and wellness.

The microbial populations and the ratios in which they occur in our gut are continuously changing throughout the course of our lives, naturally. And although the gut microbiome can be highly resilient, our lifestyle choices and medical interventions can have a profound impact on the well-being of our gut and downstream health markers.

Some of the common causes of gut dysbiosis include:

  • The use of antibiotics, both in the form of medications and/or unintentional consumption via antibiotic-treated animal products and antimicrobial cosmetics.
  • Unbalanced or unhealthy diet.
  • Abuse of alcohol.
  • Untreated, high levels of stress and/or anxiety.

Skin ailments linked to gut dysbiosis

As more research on linking gut and skin health is conducted, more skin ailments that could be caused or aggravated by gut microbiome imbalances are revealed. 

Here are some of the well-known skin diseases that have been linked to gut dysbiosis and insights into how these conditions are influenced by gut health:

Acne vulgaris:

  • Studies identified lower levels of gut Actinobacteria and higher levels of Proteobacteria in patients suffering from acne, compared to those who did not.
  • A diet high in glycemic carbohydrates has been linked to aggravation of acne symptoms via the gut.

     Skin aging

  • The Lactic Acid Bacteria, Lactobacillus plantarum HY7714, produces exopolysaccharides in the gut that are effective anti-aging molecules in the skin.

     Eczema

  • Reduced bacterial gut diversity in infants has served as an early predictor of developing eczema later in childhood.
  • Probiotic treatment during pregnancy has reduced the development of eczema in young children.

     Psoriasis:

  • 7-11% of patients with Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) also suffer from Psoriasis.
  • Researchers have defined a “psoriasis microbiome” that was significantly different in patients with psoriasis compared to the healthy population.

     Alopecia areata:

  • Genes associated with alopecia may also affect gut microorganisms responsible for activating signaling pathways that cause abnormal hair follicle growth.
  • Fecal transplants improved hair growth in patients with alopecia, although the specific mechanisms are still being investigated.

    Atopic dermatitis (AD)

  • Patients with AD had higher levels of the gut bacteria, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
  • Patients with AD had more genes encoding gut damaging molecules which causes inflammation.
  • Symptoms are dramatically improved by treatment with probiotics. 

    Not only do the above-mentioned conditions have a profound impact on the quality of life of people suffering from them, but there has also been a strong link drawn between gut health and mental health. We also know that skin disease and mental health diseases are often linked. 

    These findings are systematically bringing the complexity of gut health into focus and are pointing toward the importance of caring for your gut health as part of your beauty and self-care routine.

    Improving your skin through gut happiness

    Knowledge is power when it comes to taking charge of your gut health. 

    There are many lifestyle and self-care steps you could take to significantly improve your skin by maintaining gut health. Some of these steps could include:

    • Choosing cosmetics that support gut health:

    Choose cosmetics without antimicrobial properties that are hypoallergenic and contain limited preservatives and synthetic colorants.

    • Diet

    Research and create a suitable, balanced diet that will support your gut health. A balanced, sustainable diet will be unique to each individual’s personal preferences and physiological make-up. Limit alcohol consumption and highly processed foods. Avoid animal food products that were treated with antibiotics. 


    Want to find out more? Start your quest for a gut-skin healthy diet here.

    • Supplementation with pre and probiotics

    The undeniable benefits of pre and probiotics in sustaining a healthy gut have been studied extensively. Here, at Layer Origin Nutrition, we are in the business of gut health! 

        We believe that gut health not only relies on supplementing your gut microbiota with probiotic cultures but to provide these cultures with the best available nutrients for optimized probiotic activity — in the form of prebiotics. 

        At Layer Origin Nutrition, we specialize in producing a wide range of unique products that contain fermented Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). These HMOs serve as prebiotics to support gut health and are optimized to address a wide range of health issues. 

        To support the relationship between your gut and skin, we recommend our PureHMO® Beauty Mix with Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid. This dietary supplement is a skin health powerhouse and contains all the weapons you may need in your arsenal against skin aging and imperfections: 

        • PureHMO® human milk oligosaccharide prebiotic fiber helps restore gut balance and a healthy metabolism.
        • Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides boost the vitality of your skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, bones, and joints. VERISOL® collagen peptides are clinically tested and can stimulate skin metabolism and counteract the loss of the collagenous extracellular matrix from the inside.
        • Hyaluronic Acid, also known as hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by your body. Hyaluronic acid is found in your skin, connective tissue, and eyes. It helps retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist. 

        Written By:

        Kari du Plessis, Ph.D. in Biotechnology, who enjoys writing about holistic health topics. 

        References


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