Ladies: wanna know the secret to having more youthful-looking radiant skin?
The secret’s in your gut!
OK, so maybe you’ve heard of the gut-brain axis. Your gut and brain are like two chatty Kathys who never shut up. And that’s a good thing because this bi-directional communication system between your gastrointestinal system and your central nervous system has more control over your life than your overbearing husband!
Every aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health is determined by how well your Gut-Brain cable girls (neurons, actually) communicate with each other.
Will that second glass of champagne go right to your hips and will you experience a bout of anxiety for seemingly no reason? Will you feel ok one minute and then depressed for reasons you can’t explain? It’s all determined by your gut-brain axis.
And did you know your gut also communicates with your skin? In fact, some researchers think the Gut-Brain Axis should be more accurately called the Gut-Brain-Skin axis.
So how does your gut/gastrointestinal system affect how your skin looks?
The Gut-Skin Axis: The Gut’s Role in Skin Health
What would you do with an extra $300 grand in your pocket? Well, if you’re like the average woman, you’ll spend that much over your lifetime on skincare products [SOURCE]. But instead of relying on creams, lotions, serums and treatments to beautify our skin, maybe we need to focus on skincare from the inside out!
Our skin’s appearance is profoundly influenced by what’s happening inside our bodies, particularly in the gut, especially the colon (large intestine) where trillions of bacteria get to live rent-free, eating our food (bacteria help us digest fiber, which in turn produces healthful fatty acids) like a 30-something kid who is still mooching off the folks at home.
Emerging research like this 2021 study titled “Gut–Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions” in the journal, Microorganisms shows that there’s indeed a strong association between gastrointestinal imbalances and chronic skin conditions.
The connection between gut health and skin health seems to be the determined by the immune system, the researchers suggest. A happy, diverse crew of beneficial bacteria usually means a strong immune system and healthier-looking skin.
And let’s look at another obvious connection. Do you know anybody that eats like crap and has blemish-free, wrinkle-free skin? If so, damn her and her lucky genetics to hell! (I’m not jealous or anything.)
The good news is that you don’t have to eat 20 pounds of vegetables a day to improve your skin. But you do need to eat a healthy diet. If you don’t know which diet would make your skin look the best then I can help! Through simple lab tests you can do at home, which I can order for you, you’ll learn exactly which diet best suits your unique makeup. Pun not intended.
How Gut Imbalances Lead To Aging Skin
The important takeaway is that imbalances in the gut can significantly impact skin health and vice versa. This is because your gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to trillions of beneficial bacteria (the gut microbiome.) As I mentioned, these microscopic bugs help you digest and absorb your food.
But when the delicate balance of the gut microbiome is disrupted, it can lead to a cascade of inflammatory responses. And that means hello nasty skin breakouts. Or the tell-tale signs of aging I’m starting to dread now that I’m in my mid-30s.
And it’s not just eating too many bonbons that causes a disruption in gut health (too much harmful bacteria, not enough friendly ones). Other factors like these ones can disrupt your gut microbiome:
- Synthetic chemicals from detergents, soaps, dyes, perfumes, household cleaners and personal care products
- Toxic mold
- Heavy metals
- Chronic emotional stress
Are these endocrine disruptors (chemicals that interfere with hormone balance) going to make you look like Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust or Kate Winslet in The Reader? Hopefully not.
Leaky Gut and Poor Skin Quality
But these stressors all cause leaky gut. If you have a healthy gut lining, you have super tight junctions in your large intestine that acts like a gatekeeper, allowing only essential nutrients to pass into the bloodstream. However, stress of all kinds make these gut guardians fall asleep on the job, allowing all kinds of nasty stuff to enter the bloodstream like undigested proteins and harmful bacteria.
And when this toxic brew enters the bloodstream, inflammation can directly affect the skin, leading to conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
6 Ways Functional Medicine Improves The Gut-Brain-Skin Axis
So how can you improve your gut health to improve your skin? First by hiring me as your certified health coach and functional medicine practitioner. (I’m also a Nurse Practitioner so I have an integrative approach to healing.)
Eat a diet rich in fiber from fruits, vegetables, and a moderate amount of whole grains. These foods act as prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them thrive in your colon. I’ll also teach you how to include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi to introduce beneficial live cultures into the gut. Think probiotic supplements, only food instead of pills.
Eliminating Food Sensitivities
Using lab tests I can order for you, we’ll identify foods that trigger allergy symptoms or sensitivities. Ever wonder if dairy, gluten, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, peppers) are bad for you? Let’s find out!.
After years of eating the wrong foods, your digestive enzymes have screamed “UNCLE!” Although they’re still active, they’re slacking, barely able to crank out enough proteins to fully digest your food. I can help you select the best digestive enzymes to reduce the chances of undigested particles contributing to leaky gut.
I’m no meditation or yoga guru. But I can help you manage chronic stress that affects the gut-skin axis. I’ll teach you simple stress-reduction techniques that take just a few minutes to do.
If you’re struggling with menopausal symptoms, I can help you balance your sex hormones, which will improve your gut-skin axis. Many women don’t realize that it takes more than fixing estrogen imbalances. You also need to address plummeting progesterone levels in the postmenopausal phase. If you’re starting to look like a teenager 5 decades after you got your driver’s license, now you know why.
Blood Sugar Balance
Maybe in a future article, I’ll talk about how abnormal blood sugar levels contribute to aging skin. But here’s one quick example: Insulin resistance can increase the production of androgens (male sex hormones) in the body, which stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Excess sebum can clog pores, leading to the development of acne. Embarrassing for a teen, but normal at that age. For a mature lady, it’s a horror show!
Work With Me To Optimize Your Gut-Skin Axis
These 6 ways to improve the gut-skin axis are just a sampling. If you’re interested in learning more about how functional medicine can help reverse your biological age regardless of your chronological age, get in touch!
Until next time,
Jenna Witt, NP
Functrional Medicine Practitoner
Certified Health Coach
Founder, Fundamental Wellness Nebraska