Have you ever thought about the health of your gut and how it may be causing your skin to break out? Our gut and its microbiome affect more than we realise. 70% of our immune system is actually found within the gut – it’s responsible for very important detoxifying and metabolising processes. If you’re experiencing acne, rosacea, eczema or other skin conditions, looking at the state of your gut may be the best place to start.
How your gut & skin are linked
Your body is always looking for ways to clear toxins from your system. Because your skin is your largest organ, it can be a great way to expel said toxins (especially if your main toxin-expelling system – your gut – is not functioning properly!). The health of your gut can also influence the effectiveness of the detoxification of hormones – particularly estrogen. If estrogen is unable to be removed through your stool, it gets reabsorbed into the body. Bad news! Hormone balance is delicate at the best of times – estrogen dominance throws everything out of whack. This imbalance of hormones (testosterone, progesterone, estrogen) can cause hormonal acne, as well as other PMS symptoms at certain times of your cycle.
What you can do to improve your gut health
There are a few things we can incorporate into our diet to assist with improving our gut health:
- Insoluble & soluble fiber: fiber is important for a healthy gut – but you need two types. Insoluble fiber (found in whole grains, avocados, dark leafy greens, potatoes) helps to bulk up your stool & aid in its movement, while soluble fiber (found in oats, apples, carrots, lentils) stabilises blood sugar and assists in nutrient absorption.
- Prebiotics, probiotics & postbiotics: prebiotics are types of food (whole grains, vegetables) that contain ingredients that fuel the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are types of this good bacteria (think fermented foods – kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi). Lastly, postbiotics are the byproducts of probiotics that are created once they have consumed fiber or prebiotics. Confusing, right? All of these are beneficial to creating healthy gut bacteria and a healthy gut microbiome.
- Liver supportive foods: consuming foods like cruciferous vegetables, raw carrots, beets, onion & garlic will support both the liver & the gut in estrogen detoxification from the body. The less accumulation and reabsorption of estrogen, the better. Balanced hormones lead to balanced skin!
Prioritising sleep & exercise, and lowering stress, will also contribute to the functioning of a healthy body.
My skin actually started clearing up when I started to take care of my gut. I’ve always experienced skin issues, but they particularly worsened when I stopped taking the pill a few years ago. Naturally, as my body readjusted, my gut, my hormones and my skin became agitated. Through the help of a naturopath, I found a supplement that really worked for me. It was essentially a ‘detox’ powder for my liver and gut, and consisted of broccoli powder and other compounds like curcumin, and amino acids glutamine, glycine, and taurine. I saw the biggest difference (after about 2 months) in my digestion, and as a result, my skin soon followed.
No one wants to keep taking prescription supplements their whole life, so I started to incorporate a few things into my diet to achieve the same, or similar, results. I am still always figuring it out (it’s a journey, as they say), but eating a raw carrot once a day and upping my fiber intake for all of my meals has definitely helped. If you want to find out the origin behind the carrot, read this post by one of my favourite nutritionists. The last important thing that I realised was I needed more healthy fats in my diet. Fat is important in making the expulsion of your stool a comfortable experience.
Remember, what works for you may be different. But just know, your gut health and skin are closely linked. Good luck on your journey!
Cover photo by Ike louie Natividad