It may seem strange to suggest a link between your skin and your gastrointestinal tract, but it’s actually quite obvious when you think it through. Think of the gut-skin connection like this: you are in a sense a donut, with your skin on the outside, and your mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, and intestines forming the inside of the hole.
Of course, your skin and gut are not made of identical tissues. Your skin resists airborne and waterborne pathogens, while your gut “skin” must protect you from high levels of acidity and a constant press of toxins and bacteria. Even the good bacteria in your intestinal tract are good only because they are kept away from your bloodstream. While you depend on them to break down the foods you’ve eaten and supply you with energy, you would suffer serious illness if they managed to cross that barrier into your bloodstream.
The Science Behind The Gut-Skin Connection
An increasingly large body of evidence shows that your gut and skin react in similar ways to body issues. A condition such as acne can indicate issues with your digestion. A 2008 study of 13,000 individuals with acne showed they are much more likely to suffer from digestive issues including constipation than those who did not have acne.
Radiant Skin Equals A Happy Belly
If you suffer from acne or blotchy skin, this may indicate issues with your digestive system. So what can you do about it?
Fermented foods help supply you with the proper bacteria your digestive system needs. So add sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and other foods with natural probiotics in them.
Your body’s cells – and the bacteria in your gut – naturally produce enzymes that help with breaking down foods and supplying energy. However, sometimes they need help. So add enzymes to your diet. Proteolytic enzymes such as those found in papaya are also anti-inflammatory. Other sources of enzymes are bananas, avocados, and pineapples.
Water hydrates the body and skin. Your skin, in fact, is about 30 percent water. Increasing your water consumption increases skin density, giving you a healthier look. Good hydration also helps your skin cleanse toxins, so drink plenty of pure water.
Get plenty of antioxidants. These are easy to find. Colorful fruits and vegetables typically contain loads of them. So look for apricots, beets, berries, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Foods To Avoid
Of course, there are plenty of foods that are detrimental to your skin. Here are a few to avoid in your diet.
Alcohol consumption is, of course, both damaging to your digestive system and to your skin. It’s also dehydrating. So reduce or eliminate your use of alcohol.
While we need certain types of oils in our diets, fried foods rarely include the right ones. Reduce the amount of fried food in your diet. Your gut and skin will thank you for it. You insist on frying food, use an oil such as avocado oil rather than canola or other common vegetable oils.
We consume far too much sugar, whether it is added to foods or present in soft drinks. Your skin will thank you if you cut back – way back.
Those cups of coffee you love first thing in the morning can have an adverse effect on the appearance of your skin. You can replace them with healthier alternatives such as green tea. Keep in mind, even decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, but if you must have that coffee fix first thing in the day, decaffeinated versions make for a healthier alternative.
Persistent Skin Issues
If you have skin issues that don’t clear up, it’s wise to consult your doctor or a dermatologist. If you’re having issues with digestion, be sure to mention this. A doctor with a functional medicine approach or holistic perspective will understand the gut-skin connection and take it seriously. Research supports a clear gut-skin connection, so a vital component of dealing with your skin conditions may be to treat your digestive issues.