GUT HEALTH AND THE SKIN: Is there a relationship?
Dr. Shraddha Murali
Junior Resident/PG, Dept. Of General Surgery, SGMC Trivandrum
In his 1828 work Physiologie de Gout, ou Medetations de Gastronomie Transcendante, the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”
Every part of our human body is a delicate component of a well-oiled machine. The fuel for this machine is of course our diet. While our systems were originally built to be all-tolerating omnivores, most of us may have observed that a small change to our regular eating habits wreaks havoc on our health. From indigestion to skin breakouts, we experience a multitude of issues, all related to diet. But what if I told you, this link goes much deeper?
The GI tract and skin both consist of large epithelialized surfaces with colonies of microbiota, which are essential for maintaining the routine functioning of these systems. However, studies have shown that dysbiosis in gut microbiota can lead to several ramifications on the skin. A loss of healthy gut bacteria leaves the system compromised and triggers the inflammatory cascade, which in turn leads to the skin being more reactive to pro-inflammatory cytokines. This ultimately manifests as skin conditions such as Acne Vulgaris, Atopic Dermatitis and even Seborrheic dermatitis and Alopecia. It has also been noted that 7-11% of people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease more often than not have associated skin conditions such as psoriasis. This relationship is, bidirectional, skin conditions such as Atopic Dermatitis often sensitise people to certain food items such as peanuts or seafood resulting in allergies. It is also proven that skin exposure to UV-B ( and thus indirectly to Vitamin D) increases the diversity of the Gut Microbiome.
How does all this information pertain to us as individuals? In today’s world, where social media is thriving, every second person is a skincare influencer who seems to know the best products and routines for getting healthy skin. However, what we need to remember is that every individual is unique. Healthy skin is more influenced by genetics and gut health. Hence, the first step should be to pay attention to the signs our body gives, adjust our diet accordingly and hydrate ourselves well. There is no point in following a 10-step AM and PM skincare routine and splurging on expensive products with actives like glycolic acid, niacinamide or Hyaluronic acid if you are planning to completely ignore what when and how you eat. Yes, skincare is important. But it should be considered a way to maintain healthy skin rather than to produce one.
Remember, the skin is a mirror to our system, and the best way to shine is by becoming healthy inside and out.
- De Pessemier B, Grine L, Debaere M, Maes A, Paetzold B, Callewaert C. Gut–skin axis: Current knowledge of the Interrelationship between microbial dysbiosis and skin conditions [Internet]. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute; 2021 [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9020353
- Vaughn AR, Notay M, Clark AK, Sivamani RK. Skin-gut axis: The relationship between intestinal bacteria and skin health. World J Dermatol 2017; 6(4): 52-58 [DOI: 10.5314/wjd.v6.i4.52]
- You Want Korean Glass Skin Huh! Here Is How You Can