Many people have heard about the gut-skin axis. It is discussed frequently amongst natural health and natural beauty practitioners, but what exactly is the gut-skin axis?
The gut-skin axis is a phenomenon where the health of the skin is directly impacted by the health of the gut.
The bacteria in our gut
The gut is oozing full of microbiota. These are the bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites and other organisms living in our gut. Usually, the balance is kept in check by a good level of beneficial bacteria, which prevent any harmful organisms from thriving.
Not only do the bacteria keep the balance of other organisms in check, but they also provide many other benefits. Some of these benefits are directly related to skin health and vitality.
Poor gut health microbiota may contribute towards some skin disorders including acne vulgaris, psoriasis, eczema and rosacea, so it really does pay to ensure your gut is healthy.
Research looking at the gut-skin axis has found a much higher prevalence of rosacea in individuals with a type of detrimental bacteria called H. pylori which lives in the stomach. H. pylori occurs when the healthy bacteria in the gut is compromised, and the individual is then exposed to an infected person. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4315682/
There are many research papers concluding a link between the gut microbiota and the immune system. The immune system is heavily involved in eczema as it overreacts and causes inflammation on the skin. Probiotics have been shown to regulate the immune system and are recommended for patients with eczema. Exposure to probiotics in early life, via a natural birth and breastmilk consumption dramatically decrease the risk of developing eczema. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6518061/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6056614/#!po=1.31579
The bacteria on our skin
Much like the gut, the skin is also oozing full of bacteria – this sounds bad but is actually a good thing! Like the gut, this balance can be beneficial or detrimental to skin health. Correcting any imbalance can be beneficial for many skin conditions. Beneficial bacteria including lactobacillus bacteria helps to supress a detrimental bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes which can cause acne. Some conventional treatments include antibiotics and antibacterial skin cleansers to help control this bacterium.
There is a better way however, improving the balance of bacteria on the skin, rather than killing the beneficial bacteria promotes skin health in a few ways. Lactobacillus bacteria produce a substance called short chain fatty acids which nourish the moisturise the skin. They also produce anti-inflammatory substances which are beneficial to the look and integrity of skin. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048199/#!po=2.77778
Supplement for the skin
There are many types of probiotics to choose from. Lactobacillus species are the most studied probiotics. They product short chain fatty acids which are absorbed by the gut and used in the skin. They also produce anti-inflammatory compounds which help the skin to stay healthy and glowing. A study showed a significant improvement in skin elasticity and hydration after just 12 weeks of supplementation with Lactobacillus Plantarum. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6048199/#!po=2.77778
Probiotics in skin care is a recent advancement. There has already been some research completed which has showed some promising benefits. These include improvements in acne, eczema and rosacea. There is further, larger scale research being carried out, due to the promising findings in relatively small-scale studies. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2v83r5wk
The probiotics that make its home on the skin prevent the growth of acne causing bacteria and inflammatory bacteria. The skin also receives the benefits of the probiotic metabolites such as short chain fatty acids and other beneficial compounds.