In recent years, researchers have uncovered a fascinating connection between the gut and the skin. Referred to as the gut-skin connection, this bi-directional relationship has emerged as an exciting field of research. Let’s shed some light on this connection and its implications for our health. By understanding how gut issues and inflammation can impact the skin, we can take proactive steps to get that skin glowing and promote optimal well-being.
The Gut-Skin Connection
The gut-skin connection operates in both directions, with the gut influencing the skin and vice versa. Gut issues, such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and medically diagnosed conditions like IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease, can sometimes reflect in the skin by causing inflammation. This inflammation often manifests as various skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea, acne, rashes, and itchiness.
Leaky Gut and Increased Intestinal Permeability
The root cause of gut-related skin inflammation lies in a phenomenon known as increased intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’. Intestinal permeability refers to the ability of nutrients and water to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Under normal circumstances, tight junctions in the intestinal lining prevent the passage of unwanted molecules.
However, when gut inflammation is present, these tight junctions may become slightly more permeable, allowing clusters of molecules to pass through. This should not happen under normal circumstances, and the presence of these molecules or microbial components in the bloodstream triggers an immune response. Symptoms such as brain fog, skin inflammation, and various other manifestations may occur as a result.
Menopause and Perimenopause:
During menopause and perimenopause, the fluctuating levels of estrogen can contribute to increased intestinal permeability. Estrogen fluctuations, particularly the periods of decreased estrogen, can exacerbate leaky gut and skin conditions. Skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are commonly associated with these hormonal changes. Factors such as stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, certain medications (e.g., nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and alcohol consumption can further contribute to increased intestinal permeability, compounding the skin issues experienced during menopause and perimenopause.
Beyond hormonal changes, factors such as low stomach acid, poor digestion, and dietary choices can impact gut health and skin conditions. Low stomach acid and poor digestion have been reported in a significant number of acne sufferers. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the effectiveness of digestive processes and ensure proper breakdown of food through adequate chewing and mindful eating habits. Conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can also influence skin health, with SIBO increasing the risk of rosacea.
Recognizing the profound influence of the gut-skin connection on our overall health is essential, especially for women going through menopause and perimenopause. By addressing gut health issues and promoting intestinal healing, we can reduce skin inflammation, have glowing skin and improve our well-being. Identifying problematic foods through a food journal and seeking professional guidance for gut healing strategies, rather than resorting to self-administered probiotics, are some of the steps to take. Additionally, prioritising hydration, quality sleep and stress management can further improve overall skin health.
This is the first in a series of skin health posts where I’ll dive deeper into topics such as wrinkles, sagging, and collagen loss to provide more support and advice. Remember, the journey to optimal skin health begins with small but meaningful steps, such as eliminating problematic foods and embracing habits that promote a healthy gut and radiant skin.
Of course, this is general advice and not a personalised protocol. If you’re look for a more personalised approach and a protocol with the EXACT strategy for your individual biochemistry, then click this link to learn more.
Susie Garden | Clinical Nutritionist & Naturopath
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