The gut and skin are both barriers to the outside world and are both intimately involved in protecting our bodies. It seems like they are uniquely related both in design and function. In fact, many researchers are terming this relationship as the gut-skin-axis.
So can our gut really have an impact on our skin?
Many human and animal studies suggest that our microbiome’s influences extend way beyond our gut and seem to contribute to the function of a multitude of organ systems. Nutrition has long been associated with our skin health. In fact, according to Liakou et al, the “onset and course of certain skin conditions – like acne, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis are critically affected by nutrition patterns and habits”.
The skin has many functions: protection, temperature regulation, hydration and most importantly homeostasis which is critical for our health. It is one of our largest organs, has continual cell regeneration and it seems now is influenced by the gut microbiome and of course what we eat. (1,2)
So powerful is the association between gut health and skin conditions that in a particular study investigating the relationship between rosacea (a skin condition characterised by red, inflamed, flushing or even an acne-like appearance) and the prevalence of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). It was demonstrated firstly that patients with rosacea had “significantly higher SIBO prevalence than the controls” and that once SIBO was eradicated – an almost “complete regression” of symptoms resulted, demonstrating that treating SIBO had a positive impact on the severity of the skin condition.
In another placebo-controlled human trial, bacterial supplementation was shown to have a positive effect on skin barrier function as well. (3,4)
Interestingly because of this association between gut health and skin; researchers are investigating strain specific probiotics in the treatment of certain skin conditions. Feel free to chat to one of our nutritionists or naturopaths if you would like further information on specific probiotics used to treat specific skin conditions.
What about collagen?
Taking collagen as a supplement or as a food in recent years for its health and healing properties has become quite popular. It seems that collagen may have the capacity to reverse signs of aging by reinforcing skin tissue integrity. One of the many ways in which it does this; is through the regeneration of deeper skin layers. In fact, in a double-blind randomised placebo controlled study involving females between the ages 40-60 years old, participants noticed and it was measured that in less than 12 weeks after supplementing with collagen there was a difference in the intervention group. Participants’ skin was noticeably more hydrated with a reduction in visible wrinkling.
Collagen is naturally found in the connective tissue of animals, it is the main protein responsible for keeping the tissue firm and flexible. Supplementing with collagen may help to support and enhance the repair of your body. Collagen rich foods like bone broths have helped to highlight to the general population the immense healing benefits that collagen has. (5,6)
In fact, here at AMC we run a 6-week weight loss program – many of our patients opt for the ultra-pure collagen protein powder (which comes as part of the weight loss package) so that they can not only begin their health journey, lose their excess kilos but at the same time enhance the health benefits that collagen supplementation can bring particularly to the skin
If you are interested in our collagen protein powder or our 6-week weight loss program – please speak to one of our nutritionists or naturopaths.
Foods to include in your diet to ensure a healthy gut-skin-axis.
Foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, C, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc
- Vitamin A – liver, eggs, cod liver oil (orange and yellow vegetables and fruit rich in beta carotene)
- Vitamin D – fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver (most importantly get some sunshine!)
- Vitamin C – capsicum, strawberries, broccoli, lemons, oranges, kiwifruit
- Vitamin E – nuts and seeds, dark green leafy vegetables
- Omega 3 fatty acids – fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, flaxseed oil, walnuts
- Minerals such as zinc play a critical role in skin health – pumpkin seeds, chicken and lean red meat
- Obtaining all these nutrients from whole food sources is ideal.
- A healthy diet rich in unprocessed whole foods – a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables daily.
- Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! (filtered pure water at least 8 cups per day and more if you are exercising)
- Avoid foods that are inflammatory (highly processed sugar laden foods)
- Eat fermented foods, whole foods rich in nutrients and make your diet predominantly fresh produce that aim to nourish your body.
Support your gut health and nourish your skin from within!
- Salem I et al,2018, “The gut Microbiome as a major Regulator of the Gut-skin Axis”, Front Microbiol; 9: 1459
- Liakou AI et al, 2013, “Nutritional clinical studies in dermatology”, J Drugs Dermatol, 12(10):1104-9
- Parodi A, et al, 2008, “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Rosacea: Clinical Effectiveness of Its Eradication”. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology; 6;7: 759-764
- Gueniche et al, 2014,” Randomised double-blind-controlled study of the effect of Lactobacillus paracasei NCC 2461 on skin reactivity”, Benef Microbes, 5(2).
- Kim DU, Chung HC, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee BY. “Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study”. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 26;10(7). pii: E826. doi: 10.3390/nu10070826.
- Avila Rodríguez MI, Rodríguez Barroso LG, Sánchez ML. “Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications”. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):20-26. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12450.
- Cosgrove MC et al, 2007, “Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women”, Am J Clin Nutr, 86(4): 1225-31
- Keller KL & Fenske NA, 1998, “Uses of Vitamin A, C and E and related compounds in dermatology: a review”, J Am Acad dermatol 39(4 Pt1)
- Boelsma E et al, 2001, “Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids”. Am J Clin Nutr 73(5)
- Russell M, 2012, “Assessing the relationship between vitamin D3 and stratum corneum hydration for the treatment of xerotic skin”, Nutrients, 4(9)