How Gut Health Affects the Skin

By Alexa Santory



On Tuesday, we started a new Beauty School lesson about face mapping and how your insides have a hand in what shows up outside. We learned that a majority of the face is connected to the stomach and digestive system. So even if you don't have oily, acne prone skin, what we eat will almost always show up on our faces in one way or another. This is why maintaining gut health goes hand in hand with maintaining a clear face. Of course we all have slip ups, we're humans with cravings and lots of temptation, but as long as you keep a conscious mind about what you eat, you will definitely start to see a difference in the quality of your skin’s health.


Medical Disclaimer: First thing's first please keep in mind we are not medical professionals. Please consult your doctor before making any and all changes to your diet, taking supplements, etc... We cannot make any medical claims. 

The Gut-Skin Axis

The health of your digestive system has a surprising number of effects on not just your skin, but your mood, stress levels, and nutrient absorption, too. Known as the gut-skin axis, this connection could help us better understand why breakouts that aren't purely hormonal or produced by external bacteria, are so friggin persistent. Our gut naturally produces good and bad bacteria, which work in tandem to maintain a healthy balance. Too much of one or the other, though, can essentially start to wreak havoc on your insides and outsides.


So what happens if there are too much bacteria in the gut?

Too much bad bacteria because of antibiotics, high-stress levels, or poor diet, and you could be faced with a condition known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO. This condition interferes with food digestion and creates toxins in your body. Another condition known as leaky gut syndrome could also be the culprit for your skin woes. This condition can cause bacteria, viruses, partially digested food, and toxins to leak into your body, resulting in higher levels of inflammation on the surface. Since acne breakouts are already caused by inflammation, leaky gut just exacerbates the problem. Leaky gut can also increase stress (which we all know causes breakouts), cause food allergies that maybe weren't present before, lead to stomach discomfort and gas, and keep the body from absorbing all the proper nutrients it needs. Other factors cause gut problems too, like bad sleeping habits and eating processed foods, both of which take a toll on our skin’s appearance.

How can I fix my gut health?

Probiotics are your friend!! There are more bacteria in your body than there are cells..think about that. You want to have as much good bacteria in your body as possible. This is where probiotic supplements come in. The good bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics, can be taken as a supplement when you feel like you need an extra boost. If you’re feeling like something in your tummy is off, it could be because of a low number of good flora in your system. Probiotics in pill form can increase the good flora in your digestive system, while also regulating your movements and strengthening your immune system. Probiotics in food are nature’s way of giving the body what it needs to flourish.
Improving your gut health has almost everything to do with what you eat. Changing your diet to be a bit more clean can have a near instant impact on your skin’s appearance and how often you break out. Since face mapping is rooted in Ayurveda, adopting an Ayurvedic diet of more whole foods could result in clearer skin and a healthier gut. There are certain foods that have medicinal effects on the gut. Introducing them to your diet can greatly improve the health and strength of your gut, and eventually, your skin.
If supplements aren’t for you, fermented foods also provide probiotics that help support gut health. Fermentation is the process of steeping foods over time until their sugars and carbs turn into super healthy bacteria. How cool is that? Try incorporating more fermented foods into your diet--they’re really good for you and taste pretty great, too.
Here are some to try:
Kimchi: This Korean dish that’s great as a condiment. Try it in traditional Korean foods, or add it to a hot dog, pizza, grilled cheese, you name it. It’s even great with tortilla chips as a snack.
    Yogurt: Add some fruit and nuts and you’ve got a yummy breakfast. Yogurt is also great alongside curry.
      Kombucha: We’ll get into this later this week, but trust me, it's amazing.
        Sauerkraut: If you’re not into kimchi, this fermented cabbage might be a good option. Add it to your favorite dishes!
          Miso: This paste is made from fermented soybeans and is most easily found in miso soup. Super comforting and super tasty.


            Here are more foods to incorporate into your diet for a healthier gut!

            When incorporating cleaner, more whole foods into your healthy gut diet, some things to consider are healthy fats, high fiber, low glycemic carbs, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins.

            Bone Broth

            This stuff is packed with skin and gut supporting nutrients like collagen, gelatin, and glutamine. Since the process for making bone broth requires a long cooking time, this allows the bones to release all of their nutrients, which will then allow your body to absorb them faster.


            By the way, bone broth is also super easy to make! Here's how.



            Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

            This stuff can be used for just about anything, so it’s no surprise that it can help aid a healthy gut! Drinking a few tablespoons a day can help your gut get back on track. It can aid in weight loss and help alleviate tummy issues like IBS and acid reflux since it’s so rich in probiotics.



            Yes, you read that correctly. Brands are now making chocolate bars that are packed with probiotics to improve gut health.


            High Fiber foods

            Stuff like beans, quinoa, sprouted grains, and most fruits -- these foods help everything move more smoothly through the digestive system and help prevent issues like constipation, diabetes, and weight gain.


            Foods to avoid for a healthier gut


            Simply put, we are human beings, not baby cows. And yes, cheese and all of the dishes that require it are extra delicious (I love you forever, mac and cheese <3), but dairy almost always has detrimental effects on our gut and our skin. There are tons of extra hormones added to dairy milk that we should not be consuming, which in turn leads to an unbalanced gut and unbalanced skin.


            Refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, liquid sugars...all of it should be consumed in moderation. Sugar exacerbates gut issues and creates more bad bacteria in the digestive system.


            It’s not inherently bad for you, but the process of growing and producing soy and soy products in the US involves A LOT of GMOs. Try to avoid GMO soy and opt for organic.


            AKA tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, every food that tastes delicious fried or baked...sigh. Sadly, it’s true. This specific type of veggie naturally produce alkaloids, a bug repellant that can be toxic to humans if we consume too much of it. They also cause a lot of inflammation.  

            GMO foods

            GMO literally stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Uh...that doesn’t sound like something I’d want to put in my body, and judging by that abbreviation, it sounds like something that will probably modify my body if I eat too much of it. It’s wild that the food industry is making billions selling these products to the masses, but trust that there’s so many other options that let you avoid GMO foods completely.  



            That was A LOT to cover. But it just goes to show that a balanced diet on the path to clear skin isn’t just leafy greens and water. Sometimes, you still get to eat chocolate. 


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