How the gut influences the skin - the Gut-Skin Axis

It's easy to forget that your skin is a vital functioning organ. With an average surface area of more than 2 square metres and about 10-15% of your body weight, your skin is actually your largest organ! Part of your integumentary system, which also consists of your hair and nails, your skin can say a lot about your health. Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis are typically a symptom of something else going on in the body.

As a skin care manufacturer, its would be so much easier to say buy this lotion, try this cleanser etc etc, but they are only part of the picture, we need to be addressing the insides. 

The gut-skin axis

The gut and skin enjoy a constant dialogue via what has become known as the gut-skin axis.  And this on-going constant dialogue is like a superhighway of conversation done through our microbiome. Skin problems and gut issues have a long history of connection. It is well known that one symptom of food allergies are hives. During your adolescent years, you also probably heard a lot of advice on what foods to eat to prevent acne breakouts, even if the advice was not always valid. More and more studies are coming out demonstrating a strong association between skin disorders and gut health, leading many to determine there is a gut-skin axis. 

Unlike other organs, you can easily touch, see and check your skin health daily, so it’s a great indicator of what’s going on inside your body - especially your gut health. 

So it makes sense that the health of your gut is fundamental to having glowing, clear skin! 

How the gut influences the skin 

Have you ever noticed that when your gut appears to be ticking along nicely, you don’t pay much attention to it? For most of us, until symptoms manifest, we don’t give our gut health as much TLC as we should. And for many of us, our skin (as our body’s largest organ) is one of the first places to alert us that something within our microbiome may be a little off-kilter.

There are many common skin conditions – such as acne, eczema and rosacea – which exhibit similar symptoms to gut conditions, illustrating just how closely the two are linked. It makes sense then that if your gut is feeling irritated, inflamed or a little out of balance, your skin can be one of the first places where symptoms manifest.

I often describe our gut as being like a garden – so when the soil is healthy and well-balanced nutritionally, plants are able to thrive and flourish. In terms of our gut, this analogy rings true as when our gut is in balance – with the ideal numbers and diversity of beneficial microbes – we experience optimal health and wellbeing, and glowing skin!

Reading the signs

What’s important then, is to learn how to tune into your body and understand your gut’s signals, as determining whether your skin condition is directly caused by your gut can sometimes be problematic. Unless your symptoms are overt – such as breaking out in a rash if you consume dairy or gluten – the connection between our gut health and skin health can be subtle.

While there are a myriad of digestive issues that may contribute to skin complaints, studies show, for example, that up to 40 per cent of people who have IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) also experience skin complaints. And, if you have rosacea and/or acne, you’re more inclined to also have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). SIBO: Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth happens when bacteria from the colon grows into the small intestines where it doesn't belong.


So, perhaps it's time to go inside-out? Feel free to reply to this newsletter or email me directly if you have skin concerns and which to dig a little deeper by looking at the gut. 


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