Having great skin is a huge confidence booster and a sign that you’re looking after your body well. Most people feel a little self-conscious if there’s something that they’ve noticed that they don’t like about their skin – it could just be a blemish, or it could be ongoing struggles with dry skin.
A lot of people turn to skin treatments like facials or peels when they notice an issue with their skin. And it’s true that skin care, particularly prescription-based skincare, can help rectify many skin concerns. However, there’s a lot that you can do to improve your skin from the inside out. Often, your skin not looking its best is your body’s way of trying to tell you that it needs something. By taking care of your body, you’ll take care of your skin, and a lot of issues surprisingly start with your gut.
Several studies have directly linked the skin and your gut, known as the gut-skin axis. Gut health has been linked to several autoimmune and inflammatory skin disorders like acne and psoriasis. Around 70% of your immune system is found in the gut, so when your gut isn’t happy, your skin won’t be either.
You’ll likely have experienced this connection if you’ve gone through a period of eating unhealthy food, getting sick or experiencing high stress – you might end up with dry patches or breakouts, and this is your gut’s way of telling you that it’s not happy.
The gut is where nutrients are extracted from food, where hormones are metabolised, and pathogens are fought off. If you want to feel great in your skin, you need to make sure your gut is looking its best too!
You’ll probably have heard the phrase microbiome before – your gut is home to billions of good bacteria that help your body carry out everyday tasks. When the microbiome becomes unbalanced, it can affect other parts of your body, causing skin irritation followed by other symptoms such as digestion issues.
Skin issues can be caused by a range of things, like sensitivity to certain foods, your lifestyle, change of routine or change of diet. It’s not always easy to tell if the underlying issue is with your skin, but the typical signs of a gut imbalance are rashes, breakouts, redness, dryness, inflammation or skin that looks generally tired.
While it can all feel very overwhelming, there are lots of easy ways to keep your gut health in check. Simply getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating a healthy and balanced diet are all great ways to keep your gut happy. However, if you’re doing all this and you’re still not feeling great, don’t worry – there are still other things that you can do to give your gut a boost.
If you’re feeling run down and your skin doesn’t feel its best, then one of the quickest ways to give your gut a boost is to take some probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that support a healthy gut – they contribute to an overall feeling of wellness and support your immune system.
You consume probiotics through healthy whole foods such as tempeh, kimchi, miso and kefir. But if you feel like you need a boost, you can buy supplements or eat probiotic-enhanced foods to help your gut get back in balance.
We all know that getting active is an important part of staying healthy, but in the last few years, multiple studies have linked exercise to an increase in the number and variety of good bacteria in your gut. Doing even a small amount of moderate exercise each day has been proven to lead to a healthier gut; take a walk on your lunch break or pottering in the garden on weekends – it all helps!
We all know that eating a healthy and balanced diet is vital to maintaining your health, but what does a “balanced diet” mean? A lot of the advice for a healthy diet stems from keeping your gut healthy. Eating 40g of fibre per day is essential for keeping everything moving through your digestive tract and helps your gut extract essential nutrients from food. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, ideally in season, will boost your fibre intake and introduce more varied microbes into your system.
Most of us will admit that we probably don’t drink as much water as we should, but being dehydrated can harm our gut health. Drinking more water helps flush out any toxins that would imbalance your gut microbiome and helps the microbes to be more efficient at their job. You should aim for eight glasses per day.
As with everything, moderation is key. You might not be able to keep up a balanced diet, eight glasses of water and exercise every day, but making small, sustainable changes can all offer noticeable improvements. As long as you’re taking care of your health most of the time, your gut (and your skin) will thank you.