I constantly talk to my patients about how keeping your gut healthy is essential to clear skin, whatever your actual skin issue is.
To understand this, we need to talk about something called the gut-skin axis.
That relationship is complicated, but the basic understanding you need to have it that there are four aspects to this:
The gut may communicate with the skin in several ways:
• Absorption of nutrients with a direct effect on the skin: for example vitamin E and beta-carotene
• Absorption of nutrients that can stimulate hormonal changes that affect the skin; we think about dairy as well as high-carbohydrates foods that act as a potent stimulator of insulin which can cause acne flares
• Influence of gut microbiota on the immune system. The gut flora interact with the immune system to balance what’s called the T-cell response. The more imbalanced your microbiome, the more T-cell response and the more inflammation you have. T-cells play an important role in inflammatory skin conditions.
• Modulation of the local microbiome that releases metabolites that may have distant effects on the skin. Simply put, the gut lining houses very important metabolites that are important to maintaining the body’s inflammatory response, particularly as it relates to acne and the skin.
There are lots of things you can do to maintain gut health and therefore skin health. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is at the top of that list, and taking probiotics and eating probiotic foods is the foundation to that.
Studies have shown that you can change your microbiome within hours of positively shifting your diet.
Probiotic foods: kefir, both dairy if you tolerate it and non-dairy like coconut and almond kefir.
Fermented foods: sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, pickles, cultured vegetables, kombucha
Two probiotics in particular have been found in studies to have 1) managed the insulin response that drives acne and 2) counter inflammatory infection in the gut. So look for a probiotic that contains those two strains of bacteria.
Diet alone, I find in practice, is not always adequate to maintaining gut flora nd most of us benefit from taking probiotics, particaruly if you’re someone who’s taken a lot of antibiotics or other meds for skin issues. For daily use and maintenance 30 billion cfu (colony forming units) is a good target. 100 billion if you’re dealing with a specific gut or inflammatory issue; as always, make an appointment with us to find out what works for you.